Client: Evinrude

The Challenge

Evaluate Evinrude’s position in the marketplace

Evinrude, founded in 1909 by Ole Evinrude in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, is the creator of the world’s first commercially viable outboard engine. Since that invention, Evinrude has built a legacy of innovation by engineering the most environmentally friendly engines on the market. However, despite the company’s long history in the outboard engine industry, their market share began to diminish as competitors expanded their presence in the industry.  

In an effort to regain market share, Evinrude approached Hawthorne Strategy Group with a unique challenge: determine the company’s relationship with consumers, media, community leaders, and the industry by conducting a brand perception study. The findings from this study would then shape a strategic communications plan aimed at raising their visibility with key audiences.

The Solution

Conduct a detailed analysis 

To better understand Evinrude’s position in the industry, Hawthorne designed and executed a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative analysis of media coverage and social media engagement, and combined those findings with the results of a community awareness survey. The Hawthorne team also researched Evinrude’s top competitors’ marketing materials to better understand where Evinrude stands within the marine industry and identify strategies competitors were using to engage consumers. 

Key elements of the study, which was completed in just five weeks, included: 

-Survey of community members, leaders, and organizations to understand their awareness and perception of Evinrude and its competitors 

-Audit of customer engagement on social media through a review of Evinrude’s and competitors’ social media posts and consumer posts that mention the marine companies 

-Analysis of the volume, quality, and estimated public reach of Evinrude’s media coverage compared to competitors 

-Identification of the most common topics discussed by Evinrude and competitors in media placements 

-Phone interviews with trade media editors to gauge industry perception of each competitor 

Through the brand perception study, Hawthorne gained a more comprehensive understanding of Evinrude’s business objectives, their competitors, the industry, and other key players – knowledge that was essential for the Hawthorne team to best serve the needs of the client. The study served as a vital tool for Hawthorne to develop a thoughtful, actionable communications strategy that integrated proven communications solutions, such as message development, proactive media relations campaigns, and industry and community award submissions. 

The Results

An effective, actionable plan

Working alongside the Evinrude communications team, Hawthorne successfully executed numerous media and consumer-engagement campaigns, helped forge new relationships within the marine industry, and won awards recognizing Evinrude’s innovation, technology, and community leadership. These efforts have raised Evinrude’s public profile in their community and industry while helping them establish key media relationships. 

The strategic media engagement plan has also positioned Evinrude as an active community member and thought leader in the marine industry through over 30 unique, prominent broadcast, online, and print placements in local, national, and international traditional and trade publications. 

A year after implementing a communications strategy to elevate the Evinrude brand, Hawthorne has:

-Increased the overall reach of Evinrude’s media coverage, elevating their share of voice in the industry by over 30% and the total number of placements by 150% from October 2017. 

-Secured prominent news coverage that promoted Evinrude’s key messages including product sustainability and innovation, ultimately increasing their rate of prominent coverage by 35% in one year. 

-Elevated perceptions of Evinrude by increasing positive news coverage by 32% from last year.