With Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor winning women's beach volleyball today, Kinesio comes out as a big winner as well. The company hasn't paid Walsh or any other Olympic athlete a dime to wear its strange looking tape -- they just donated 50,000 rolls to 58 countries competing in Beijing. We sat down with John Jarvis, director of Kinesio USA, to talk about this marketing coup.
What's the difference between Kinesio tape & traditional athletic tape?
Jarvis: The biggest differences between this and the other athletic tapes that are on the market is that Kinisio is an elastic form of taping, basically providing four major functions:
Correcting of muscle joints, correction of muscle function, improved circulation of blood and lymph fluid as well as relief of pain. Most other taping techniques out there are primarily set up to constrict a joint or immobilize an area so they don't further damage itself. Us on the other hand, we're trying to encourage that proper movement through the support of the Kinesio itself.
How do you get athletes to wear it?
Jarvis: The biggest way that our athletes obtain the product and the technique itself is honestly through our therapists out there, which I thank tremendously for their dedication to what we've been able to do over these past few years. The technique itself and the product itself is strictly sold to the medical practitioner, being everything from athletic trainers to physical therapists, occupational therapists to medical doctors, the list goes on and on. These are the ones that truly introduce it within these particular populations.
How much does the tape cost?
Jarvis: The sales price on our product is $15, or approximately $15 per roll. One roll of tape though will probably cover about 2 to 3 months worth of applications for one specific condition, so it's kind of a sticker shock to begin with, when compared to most athletic tapes, or tape products out there. But if you look at the long term, it's definitely worthwhile."
How long has the company been around?
Jarvis: The company itself has actually been around for a little over 25 years. It was founded by Dr. Kenzo Kase -- still very much a hands on. We feel his presence at every turn. We've been in the United States for the last nine years.
What's the sales prognosis for the future?
Jarvis: It took us a few years to kind of get this product introduced. It was very difficult to convince physical therapists that a piece of tape actually does what we say it does, but over the past six years we have far exceeded our expectations as far as our growth. We went from literally selling about 36 rolls of this product per year to literally the hundreds of thousands per month right now at this point.
How many potential consumers in the world could be using this tape and for what purpose?
Jarvis: I believe it's limitless at this point. Right now, we specifically go after the medical community. We are taking a look with aligning ourselves with a leading manufacturer and sports retail chain here in the United States and I believe once we are able to introduce this within the general population itself, the uses of the tape are absolutely limitless. And we feel that the prognosis of us being able to enter into the retail population would tremendously increase what we're trying to do as a company as a whole.
Is there a comparison you can make to another product -- maybe Breathe Right strips?
Jarvis: We actually have been getting a lot of comparisons to, say the Breathe Right strips. It was actually done for medical purposes and kind of trickled down into the general population. One of the things we are definitely looking for are the opportunities within the general population to kind of broaden our overall acceptance out there. We have definitely seen, especially with the Kerri Walsh stories and the tape being seen throughout the Olympics, to really kind of broaden our horizons out there, as far as retail is concerned. Within the past year and a half, I've brought on 21 international distribution partners throughout the world. We represent the product through 73 different countries right now, so again, it's an absolutely limitless amount to what our potential is out there.
How big of a coup is this Olympic attention?
Jarvis: It's absolutely phenomenal. To tell you the truth, I've kind of run out of things to describe the feeling that we're kind of going through right now. We've seen an incredible spike within our Web site, within the phone calls, within the emails we've received over the past week and a half. To kind of give you an idea, typically on an average day for us, we receive between 600 and 1,000 new views per day. Over the past week and a half, we've received over 400,000 just on our Web site alone. The big thing that I think triggered this one more than anything, we've been in the athletic community for a number of years now, we've seen our product out there, but with the NBC commentary mentioning the name, mentioning the functions of the product itself and the technique, that first day we spiked. I believe it was last Saturday, we came back into the office just blown away with the acceptance we've received out there.
And you have no Olympic athletes endorsing this?
Jarvis: They're not endorsed by us whatsoever. It's truly getting it out in front of our therapists. We went strictly after the medical community within the United States, within Europe, the Middle East and really focused our attention on them. They in turn brought this to their teams. We've done a number of presentations within the sporting community, but it's one of the smallest communities out there that we actually serve.
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