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Monday, March 8, 2010

The Impending Death of Brine Lacrosse?

Does anyone else get the impression that New Balance may be phasing out the Brine name?
If you've watched any games this season you have no doubt seen the New Balance commercials featuring Chaz Woodson. They are technically New Balance/Brine ads but really only spotlight the NB logos on his Machine uniform (nice to see they are using that on TV!), socks, and shoes. NB now has a lacrosse section on their site and have launched lax cleats with NB branding. They are still producing Brine equipment, but are definitely cross marketing it with NB stuff - especially on the NB site. This is leading me to believe that the Brine name may be on its way out in favor of the larger NB name. In hockey when Nike bought Canstar they did the same with Cooper. Reebok did it with Jofa & Koho. Warrior did it with both Innovative Hockey and Montreal. Harrow did it with Christian before later selling the Christian brand. Easton seems to be doing it with Talon in lax as well.

My theory is that NB is doing that because they want the larger name to be part of lax in order to compete for new customers against Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Easton. With those brands so well known outside of lacrosse, they hold the major advantage when it comes to new players from non-traditional lax areas. Why not take advantage of the well known New Balance name and iconography by combining it with the technology and reputation of Brine? The New Balance name definitely has significantly more oomph than Brine internationally and outside of lacrosse.
NB is definitely keeping the Warrior line active. Not only are both the hockey and lacrosse divisions performing well on a consistent basis, but they have just launched an athletic shoe line under the brand. By combing NB's reputation for quality with edgy Warrior looks, the line looks very promising. I see the Warrior/New Balance lacrosse relationship being similar to that of CCM and Reebok in hockey in the near future with the Brine name lost to history like Koho & Jofa.

But where does this leave Brine on a larger scale? Will New Balance remove the brand entirely? This could give the NB name a strong foothold in other large markets, especially soccer. It will definitely be interesting to see this play out...

Tribe 7