Apex is a performance materials company. We currently specialise in socks, specifically grip or non-slip socks, built to give athletes across a wide range of sports more stability, speed, agility, and comfort when running and changing direction. We are launching two products - the Apex PRO and the Apex SL. Primarily used for football and rugby, we also want to target weightlifters, and runners initially, expanding into other sports moving forward. Eventually Apex will produce innovative sport-specific products that combine innovative materials and design to bring elite performance to everyone.
We are going to produce the leading performance sock on the market. Apex will be directly competing with Trusox. Our aim is to offer a premium, yet slightly cheaper price option, with a more focused brand, and keyword (KW) driven advertising plan. We are focused on the launch of Apex initially and will expand this goal based on performance.
Our advantage is simple. We must maximise exposure to Gen Z across Instagram and Tik Tok with video first free and paid content. Combine this with highly targeted KW's across our Google Ad and Google Shopping campaigns. Throw in a sock with an exoskeleton and premium packaging.
Unique exoskeleton, graphic design, and premium packaging. Our socks are built to be comfortable and durable at a leading price point.
Our brand is future proof. Less about socks, and more about elite performance. Vibrant and unique branding combined with simple CTA's.
Video first, social media heavy, short and sharp interactions. We must use influencers, paid Reels and Tik Tok to reach mass audience quickly.
Apex is a vehicle for experimentation and learning. Whether combining social media and ecommerce, exploring radical paid advertising channels, sourcing new materials for our products, or building key stakeholder relationships. Apex thrives on calculated risks. We want to move fast, be close to our community, and be unique amongst the market. Apex will never take it's self too seriously.
Though we are selling socks. We are not selling socks. We are selling the notion that everyone is an elite athlete in their own right.
Our launch products - the Apex PRO and the Apex SL - are two competing products to gauge the market. The market leader Trusox, is the only sock that utilises a "suede" patch system, where all other competitors use a variation of "silicon gel" grip patterns. In the PRO and the SL we are testing the demand for each separate material as our initial exploration into the market.
Exoskeleton: Apex socks are made to be 'fitted'. Around the heel, under the arch of the foot, and at the toes we have implemented elastic strips, that wrap into the foot. This stops internal slippage of the foot inside the sock. This is unique to the market.
Aesthetics: Our socks are not a conventional white base and a black logo. We have a graphic across the sock that fades into the lightweight mesh upper of the sock. Our branding in minimal. The logo is embroidered to enhance that premium feel.
Experience: We want our customers to feel like high performing athletes. The packaging, the internal information cards, (contain information for amateurs and pro athletes), and the sock itself makes them feel special. No cardboard or cheap plastic packets.
The Apex PRO is designed to directly compete with Trusox. Using "suede patch" grips that are activated by sweat and moisture, effectively offering more texture surface area than just the base sock material alone. Our grips are highly structured into clear rows and columns to fit the maximum area of the foot. The PRO is built to offer more speed and stability to our athletes.
The Apex SL is designed to compete with the wider market. The SL uses "silicon gel" pads to give immediate grip to the athlete. Our grips are again highly structured into clear rows, with a low profile to minimise discomfort. The SL is built to offer more grip and agility to our athletes, primarily in dry weather, and intense multi-directional sport.
Grip Pads: The grip pads are solid and have been extensively tested. But we will upgrade the suede patches from the suppliers material to our own selection after the first batch. The silicon gel will be experimented with to find optimum grip x durability.
Multiple Sizes: Offering a small (5-7), medium (8-10), and large (9-12) sock would give greater flexibility to the customer. Currently our sock size fits UK 7 - UK 10 (or UK 11 at a push).
Colours: Offer a black sock (with black silicon pads for the SL) would give a secondary selection to our customers. Then we would expand into other key team specific colours.
Softer & Lighter Base Material: The base material is currently a cotton-spandex hybrid. It can get "dry" and "rough" after 5-6 washes if not tumbled dried occasionally. A softer, more breathable base would help improve lightness and airation of the foot.
Our packaging is simple and yet unique in our sector. We use a Stand-Up-Pouch (SUP) design, with a zip seal top, and the ability to be stood up if needed. Our SUPs are made from fully recyclable plastic and was chosen to be flexible and lightweight. The pouches measure 190mm x 260mm and are thin enough (with the socks) to fit through a post-box. This gives us the ability to post the socks as a "Large Letter" which averages to be £1.06 per item, instead of £3+ when sending as a "Small Parcel". Our total package weight is less than 90g. Unit cost for external packaging is 33p. Unit cost for Internal packaging is 30p.
Exterior Design: Contrasting and striking design. Adds a feeling of mystery and intrigue. We use black and white for each separate style of sock. We have purposefully not alluded to an image of the sock on the packaging.
Information Cards: With each pair will be information cards. These will have a "Play Fast" card with our mission statement on. A "Care" card with washing and care details for both amateurs and professionals. We want our customer's to "see" how pro players would care for their socks. We will also include a "Membership" card for use in the future.
Drastically Different: Our packaging is very different to the competition. We have removed the cardboard sleeves, and the cheap plastic wallets most competitor products arrive with. The first interaction with our socks as they come through the post is vital.
Our socks will be shipped as Large Letters. To begin with we will package and ship orders manually from the local post office. The goal is to reach a critical point where we need a Royal Mail Collection for UK orders, and a DHL Collection for International orders. In the future (in particular when we expand into Amazon USA) we will use fulfilment centres, or use Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) - this will automate the shipping process for us.
1st Class Standard > Stamp & Online > £1.06
RM 24 > Business Account (Min 1000/year) > 91p
RM 48 > Business Account (Min 1000/year) > 70p
UK Local Shipping $3
EU Local Shipping $4 / UK to EU Shipping $6
US Local Shipping $3
International Standard > Up to £20 Compensation> 3-5 Working Days > £3.25
International Standard > Up to £20 Compensation> 6-7 Working Days > £4.20
Shopify will be our central selling hub. All links from Google Ads, Instagram Reels, Tik Tok content, and wider reach will land on the Apex Shopify store. We will manage stock, payments, returns, pricing, pre-orders, and flash sales from here. It will have a simple "Home" page and two separate landing pages for the PRO and the SL. Our store is targeted at Gen Z customers. As such it will be vibrant and mobile optimised. We want the confidence of Nike, with the edge of Sneak Energy.
Our website must be simple and yet unique. Our goal is to not to sell the technical aspect of socks, but instead an affinity to the brand and what we stand for. As such here are the things we must avoid and things we must implement:
Football players wearing socks on astro-turf
Infinite white space
Boring headers, title, and content
Overly technical jargon
Vibrant contrasting colours
Lifestyle images NOT related to football socks
Banners and eye catching quotes
Large images and font
Key USPs as simple keywords
We want to maximise the number of clicks between landing and checkout to 2.
Our customers want streamlined buying. Our product landing page will be split into two parts. The top is the product, multiple images, quick description and key information, plus a Buy Now button. The second part is beneath the fold of the page. Here is more detailed images and descriptions of the socks USPs, some more affinity quotes, and then at the bottom another place to Buy Now.
Key Shopify Apps
There are a range of useful Shopify apps we can use to enhance how we sell, retarget, reward, communicate, upsell and build relationships with our customers. Many have a free trial, but the key ones are paid at a price between $10-$30 / month.
Smile or Swell (Rewards)
Pre-Order Manager (Pre-Orders)
Tidio Live Chat (Messenger)
Product Reviews or Loox (Reviews)
Candy Rack (Upselling)
Amazon is our gateway to the most number of customers actively looking to buy. We will begin in Amazon UK, with a view to expand to Amazon US very quickly. The goal with Amazon is to use it as an alternative buying channel, a place to test our pricing, and a more
"secure" place to build brand recognition. Amazon takes 15% fee for each sale.
Our approach on Amazon must be similar to our approach on Shopify, except all our messaging, imagery, reviews, and information is geared towards actively selling the product:
Ranking Apex socks on the first page is the top priority for the first 3 months after launch on Amazon. The KW's we use will be similar to what we pick for our Google Ads, however will be optimised to perform on our product title, description, and PPC. It is vital we rank highly - this is a combination of a good listing score, multiple reviews, consistent PPC, and early sales.
Within the product listing the Title will contain a minimum of 5 KW's, the description another 10 KW's. We need to identify the Highest Relevance KW's (HR) with over 500 searches per month and use these wherever possible.
Amazon expects the highest performing products to pay in part for their successful ranking - particularly new products entering searches. Alongside our KW rankings, we will spend 20% of the sock value ($5) on PPC per day at launch to boost ourselves in the rankings and secure early favour with the Amazon algorithm. Conversion rates on Amazon are generally strong (5% to 15%) as customers are primed to buy immediately. We will be able to see the best performing KW's that we pay for using PPC by tracking the conversion rate for each individual PPC ad we run.
Strong early reviews will make or break our launch. Amazon tracks IP address for review origins, so we need to find a way to secure and promote positive reviews, without asking for them (this breaks Amazon TOS). A minimum of 4.3 star reviews will show 4.5 stars on the listing. Combine this with a conversion rate of 2.5% of sales lead to a positive review and we can gain a competitive edge. There are some key ways to do this:
Amazon Early Reviews: Amazon has an early review program whereby we pay $60 / ASIN to Amazon and they ask customers to post a review (in exchange for $3). It's a simple way to get 5 quick reviews, it's safe and encouraged by Amazon for new listings.
Customer Comms: Once a sale has been made we can build a rapport process. Initially it's about checking if the item has been delivered and "is everything okay?". If not we then get in front of any bad reviews and troubleshoot the problem.
Platinum Ticket: In selected Amazon sales we will add a "platinum ticket". This ticket gifts a free pair of Apex socks by redeeming a code that we set aside for them. Limit numbers to 100 and "encourage" a feedback (aka a review) on the insert.
Discount Code: In selected Amazon sales we will add discount codes 30% - 50% off. This is to instigate a social sale (to a friend or teammate) or in turn provide a catalyst for a review.
How we brand Apex is at the crux of any success we will have. We are looking to be a video first brand, with a focus on Generation Z, showcasing our products with vibrant imagery and unique short form video. Our social presence will be a cross between Nike Football and Sneak Energy - a mixture of lifestyle imagery and graphic design overlays on gifs and video. We will not have a heavy Facebook presence, instead using Instagram and Tik Tok as our main vehicles for exposure to our target demographic.
Our social goals are very simple. We want a highly engaged community (influencer heavy approach, UGC "platinum ticket" posts etc). Our approach will focus on finding 10 early stage influencer with growing followings and high quality content. We want to build long term relationships with these people and grow alongside them.
Engagement across Insta and Tik Tok
Dedicated Influencers across video and social
ROAS for DTC social media video content
Product Images always have background graphics
Short form video is has element of intrigue and mystery
Vibrant colours and fonts that give their brand imagery contrast
Upload a lot of desks, workstations, neon lit areas (where the product is not central)
Product Images are lit in very dark or very light areas
Short form video has graphic overlays and special effects (speed, smoke, rain etc)
Football focused content is of a whole human, with the product as a minor focal point
Lots of group/human imagery that focus on sport, togetherness, everyday football
Our competition does not market efficiently or with enough aggression for a single brand to dominate the sector. The goal is to combine hyper targeted KW adverts alongside paid Instagram and Tik Tok content (via Influencers) to funnel customer's to our Shopify landing page. We have a Google Ad target of a 4.0 ROAS and a paid content target of a 3.0 ROAS.
Our Google Ads will be our main channel to grab and convert customers. We will launch individual adverts for each KW, for example "grip football socks" and pay around $50 a day (across the campaign) to rank highest across both Google Search and Google Shopping. The advantage we have is in finding 50 keywords of about 1000 search volume/month each (Total Volume= 50,000) and creating ads specifically for the keyword we use. We will use Google Ads to gauge our sales before we commit to our first bulk order.
Google Search Ads
These appear above the Google results as "sponsored" or "promoted" ads
Launch budget of $10/day, with a target budget of $50/day
Our locations will be set to UK, USA, CAN, AUS, EU
Bidding will be Manual CPC (with no enhanced CPC)
Every 24 hours we manually manage the KW. Low performing ads get removed and added to the "Negative KW List".
Google Shopping Ads
We need to access our Shopify Merchant Centre and use an app "Google Shopping Feed" to maximise our Shopping Ads
These appear directly under the results bar as a product image thumbnail and title or under "Shopping"
Test budget of $10/day, with a target of $50/day
Location set as "People in, or regularly in your target locations" - Exclude "people in excluded locations"
Bidding will be Manual CPC (with no enhanced CPC)
Use the "Product Shopping (Individual) option
Remove negative keywords and manage the campaign from a single list of ads
Single Keyword Ad Groups
Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS) are individual ads for each KW we choose. Within a campaign we will have 50 separate ads with separate conversion rates, ROAS, and impressions that helps us trim poor performing ads, and double down on high conversion keywords.
Paid Instagram and Tik Tok Content
We will advertise on Instagram Reels, Stories, and Pages looking to pay $30 to $100 per 24 hour slot. These "ads" will be managed through DM, and we will use our own videos we make. On Tik Tok we will pay a similar $100+ fee for unique UGC that will be a short form video actual with our product being used.
Our target customers are simple to define. Initially we will focus on football players (across different ability levels) and access them through the places where they will be found the most often. Football has a very large total addressable market (TAM) meaning we have to remain niche in who we target and how we target people to begin with.
It is important to remeber we want to be an international brand. However, during our early sales we will see patterns of customers - where they are from, age, social group, engagement - it is vital we act on these and are very flexible to the people (and sports) we should be selling into. We begin with football, and expand into rugby, weightlifting and running.
Amateur Football Players: Saturday and Sunday league players. Love playing football. Hobby and an obsession.
Age: 13 to 20 Years Old
Found: FIFA, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitch
Influence: Celebrities, Pro players, Youtubers, Social Influencers
Football Players: Amateur, Semi-Pro, Youth Teams, Academy Level
Age: 16 to 30 Years Old
Found: FIFA, Instagram, Twitter
Influence: Looking for an advantage and willing to pay for premium (as long as there is social proof)
Football Players: Top 6 UK Leagues
Demand: Steal players from Trusox, Tapedesign, Gravity
Desire: High Performance athletes want premium new technology
Access: Direct Messaging (DM) on social media and Free Handouts (premium team boxes)
Future Customer Segments
Expanding into rugby, weightlifting, and running (with specialised products) will help us reach more customers. We don't want to box ourselves as a "football only" brand, when our competition hasn't infiltrated various other sports, our flexibility to attach these other sports will provide a sales boost when we are driven to expand.
There is a single leader in the market. Then two European based brands. Behind that is a plethora of average brands, with solid sales, and yet no distinctive technical, market, or brand advantage. Apex will compete directly with Trusox, aiming to render every other competitor useless, riding the demand from Trusox to launch Apex to a new generation of players and professionals.
Market leader and main competition. They have the most visually obvious sock, most pro players, most sales. They are the most established brand. However, they do not offer a silicon option and there IN/EX tech is challenged by our exoskeleton approach.
2nd largest seller. Mainly sells to Europe and European players. Has broken into rugby more recently. Cardboard packaging.
European seller alongside Tapedesign. Has some pro players in Spain and Italy. No marketing or ad presence on Google or TikTok / Instagram Reels.
Small seller that has made minor inroads into the Premier League (Ederson, etc) No real unique edge. Standard social and brand.
Run by Harlequins rugby player. These are cheap private listed socks with rubber grips and basic branding. Strong Google ad and social presence.
Premium sock on the market at £35 per pair. European brand that has small exposure to football. Featured by Unisport on YouTube.
YouTuber that private listed a sock. Strong Instagram presence, diverse colours, and reasonable sales. Nothing unique technology wise.