Five minutes with Ben Caddy - General Manager of Sprout
Sprout's now in more than 350 retail outlets across Australia and boasts one of the country's widest ranges of technology accessories. What's the secret to your success?
I think our focus on product innovation has been instrumental. Sprout's not just mobile phone cases, we spend a great deal of time looking at the market, what people's key challenges are and then creating products that solve those challenges.
Take our Stride Bluetooth headphones as an example. We saw that people were struggling to find headphones that would stay in their ears while they were exercising so we spent eighteen months designing our own patented earpiece that moulds to the inside of the ear – ensuring it doesn't fall out. We also learned that when used whilst exercising, sweat and rain could damage the headphones and cords. This is why we made them completely waterproof, and we included Kevlar in the cables so that they can hold 5kg of weight. It is possibly excessive for the needs of the customers, but if we can handle 5kg on the cables then we know we will have no issue with particularly rough use whilst exercising. I think that level of care, ingenuity and quick response to customer feedback is what sets us apart.
How has the brand changed since it started in 2011?
Well in the very early days we were just mobile phone cases and chargers so in terms of product range, we've evolved significantly since we started, to now having a catalogue of over 200 items.
So we've changed in that sense, but I think we've also come a long way in terms of our ability to bring new technology to market, and have successfully established ourselves as a key player in the Australian technology accessories market. Today, we're much more daring in exploring new products and in putting our own unique spin on the accessories we create and release.
I think in 2011 we were mostly focused on offering higher margin alternatives to existing products, whereas today, I would argue that we play a pretty big role in setting the trends, particularly in the waterproof audio and powerbank space.
Consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to technology accessories. How does Sprout cut through the noise?
We really differentiate in two ways. The first is innovation, which I've already spoken about, and the second is through developing quality, ethically sourced products. We don't cut corners on price and none of our products are 'off the shelf' solutions. Our Waterproof Powerbank for example contains an extremely high quality battery that charges devices at up to 2.4a– which you just don’t get on competitor products.
We also make a point to walk through all factories we use to ensure exemplar staff conditions and that rigorous testing procedures are in place. Because of these two key points of difference we can proudly say that we have high levels of customer satisfaction and lowest in market return rates.
Brand evolution is the key to success in today's retail climate but what's one thing that Sprout won't budge on?
We absolutely won't compromise on the quality of our products. We acknowledge that this means our products will be on the higher end of the scale in terms of price but we believe, and our customers continue to prove this to us, that people would rather invest in a product that they know they can trust and rely on to stand the test of time and not break after a few uses.
For more information on Sprout, visit sproutinc.com.au.
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