Once a unit of Justin Industries, Justin Brands two-stepped away, returning to its cowboy roots. The firm is known as a maker of western boots under the Justin Boots, Nocona Boots, Chippewa Boots, and Justin Original Workboots brands, but the company also makes and markets work, safety, and sports footwear. Its western boots come in a variety of exotic leathers, including lizard and ostrich. Justin Brands sells its footwear through department stores, shoe chains, specialty stores (Academy, Cavenders Boot City), catalogs, and online (Zappos.com). It also caters to cowboys and fillies who want to learn more about the West through its Northland Publishing unit. Justin Brands is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
Berkshire Hathaway works with manufacturers outside the US to have significant portions of its footwear produced.
In recent years, Justin Brands has partnered with icons and relied on product placement to peddle its products. The company offers a boot collection under licensing agreements with country singers George Strait, Brad Paisley, and Jason Aldean. Justin Brands also markets its brands through product placement in films such as Ocean's Thirteen, No Country for Old Men, and American Gangster.
It's also tapping into social media as part of a 2011 marketing communications and licensing initiative headed up by Lisa Lankes, the footwear firm's first female executive in more than 130 years. Since Lankes took over responsibility for the Justin Brands licensing program, annual revenue has grown by double digits despite the tough economy.
Justin Brands has also leveraged Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace to market itself. The boots manufacturer launched its Justin Bent Rail line through the social networking channels and, as a result, sales exceeded the company's goals by 30%.
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