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The North Face

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THE NORTH FACE

The North Face is an American outdoor clothing and goods brand formed in west coast San Francisco, 1968, by two hiking aficionados Douglas Tompkins and Kenneth Klopp. The given name references the notion that the north face of a mountain in the northern hemisphere is, by and large, the most difficult to scale. The company specializes in outerwear, footwear and equipment such as backpacks, tents and sleeping bags targeting climbing enthusiasts bound for The Himalayas. However, in the late 90s and early 00s with the emergence of 'wilderness chic' it became all the rage though for most of their fans driving a Range Rover to the ParknShop would be the most strenuous expedition undertaken. Spearheaded by like brands Timberland and UGG, it's audience has widen significantly in the last decade. The North Face's logo was designed by David Alcorn in 1971 and consists of a somewhat skewed quarter-circle with two lines threading within it. This logo is an illustration of Half Dome, a gigantic granitic monolith in Yosemite National Park. As an extra, The North Face is presently a subsidiary of the VF Corporation which is headquartered in Stabio, Switzerland. Other subsidiaries administered by said corporation include Timberland, 7 for all mankind, Wrangler and Vans.

The North Face's logo has turned into such a ubiquitous sight on anybody shielding themselves from the cold that it is no real surprise that the brand utterly dominates the outdoor market by quite some way. Globally, sales were up 17% last quarter with annual sales now topping $1.4bn (£886m). There seems to be no evident resistance to The North Face's assault on the summit of the adventure market currently. Sales are predicted to achieve double-digit percentage growth in the next five years.
For a brand originally founded on the initiative to garb those engrossed in hardcore, Spartan outdoor pursuits, it has become something of a staple for the city commuter and is most commonly sighted on public transport over Pikes Peak. The brand is unassuming enough that it can compliment corporate-wear and just-trendy-enough to be worn as a leisure piece. Truth be told, The North Face will never become Moncler-esque ,but it is so impressively popular with urban daddies envisaging themselves to be Ranulph Fiennes that this doesn't matter because the glacial logo discretely confers an apparent label of masculinity over any expression of elegance. It isn't cheap either, which sets it above and beyond from other sports labels. For example, it became a victim of the counterfeit market leading to a website being created to flag-up and inform prospective buyers back in 2004. Today, The North Face's three foremost demographics are outdoor enthusiasts consisting of men and women aged 18 to 35 within a middle-upper socio-economic category. These consumers are viewed as the most profitable and dedicated patrons. Due to their active outdoor lifestyles, this range of customers possess an awareness for reliability, and apt maintenance of their outdoor wear. The next assemblage to market towards is the health conscious. This group is made up of men and women aged 25-50 in an upper-middle socioeconomic bracket. The third group is dubbed “others” which are men and women within the ages of 50-75 from lower to upper socioeconomic brackets (Market Line, 2011). The North Face is immensely pioneering vis-à-vis advertising. The label goes by the slogan, “Never Stop Exploring” and follows the precept of inspiring individuals who motivate them to aim for extraordinary dreams. They have been successful in building brand awareness by projecting a technically urbane and authentic image which appeals to the professional, serious outdoor fantasias, in addition to a much broader Segment of consumers, by emphasising on their unique selling points (USP's): innovative product design and diversity and reputability and differentiation. The North Face has an intelligent tactic of advertising towards consumer outlooks and subsequent behaviours. For example, at the moment, health has grown to be an increasingly important issue. Advertising to target markets by weighing greatly on the benefits of exercise, they have incorporated camping, hiking, and extreme sports into their strand of marketing to illustrate a healthier lifestyle which thus appeals to their target demographic (The North Face, 2011). They have furthermore sponsored an array of endurance events countrywide, drawing in a collection of the most successful sportspersons in their respective fields to participate. 'The North Face's advertising strategy in print, TV or innovative in-store kiosks, is to show “visual journals” of athletes‟ expeditions. “The company also launched an online magazine called Epic that features photography and articles appealing to people who are passionate about backcountry sports, from rock climbing, backpacking, and bouldering, trail running, mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing and more” (Silverstein, 2008). Further accumulating to this, 'The North Face communication and advertising strategies are largely internet based with other forms of intermittent traditional advertising, customarily online video advertisements. With strong brand loyalty and brand recognition, a brand such as The North Face does not have to rely on strong traditional advertising outlets, but be most reliant on word of mouth advertising within their loyal consumer base (Hoover's, 2011).

The North Face now has an iPhone app which enables skiers to have on-the-go updates about trail maps and weather temperament. Another perk of this app is that it provides patrons with promotional information should they wish to opt for a texting service only via signing up. Produced by Placecast, a mobile ad business based in San Francisco, it utilises a practice called geo-fencing, which draws a virtual perimeter around a particular location (Miller, 2010). The dream for The North Face was to text people bespoke ads according to their location. This is a lot like a coupon for a coffee when passing a coffee shop in order to entice an impulse buy. Once the customer inserts their location they receive a text highlighting the hottest deals at the nearest The North Face store. This method suits the college demographic as the tech-savvy generation. The dream has been to send people ads tailored to their location, like a coupon for a cappuccino when passing a coffee shop in order to entice an impulse buy. Placecast created 1,000 geo-fences in the vicinity of New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle. These are cities where the North Face has the greatest market presence through their stores. Conversely, these are also areas which receive a lot of snow or rain, so the company can text made to measure messages according to the weather conditions. In urban areas, the fences are up to half a mile around stores, and in suburban areas they are up to a mile around stores. This is especially effective because The North Face's inventory is heavily seasonal, and constant updates ensure the consumer is always kept in the loop of what's on offer. Aaron Carpenter, the vice president of marketing for The North Face reflected, “We like things that people opt in to and that aren’t going to be perceived as being intrusive, where we’re bringing something to the table. All of our highly brand-conscious clients were reluctant about text messaging because there was not as much of an engagement or sexiness to it, but here, when you have such relevance, it connects to a person’s passions.”This essentially summarises it right up.
Despite The North Face coping well within the economic crisis, third-party retailers of the brand have not come through unscathed. Offering discounts on the label's goods is one method of producing sales in this sort of situation and thus The North Face has laboured to protect their image from being consigned to the bargain bin. They set an ultimatum to pull their goods from Blacks, a UK based outdoor stockist due to discount specialist Sports Direct potentially purchasing majority equity in Blacks. Speculation of the takeover was quelled when VF Corporation bought a 5% in Blacks, rumoured to be with the motive of scuppering Sports Direct gaining a majority share.

Headlining itself as the 'technically advanced, innovative apparel, footwear, and gear that inspires athletes to never stop exploring', the brand's website is a hub for their exclusive sales promotions, saving on ongoing logistics revenue and increases sales revenues. Furthermore, the website caters to all four corners of the globe and the major markets in America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

According to Indeed.com; a site specialized in employees reviewing their workplace, general pros are that The North Face offers a lucrative staff discount for their inventory. The work environment, apparently, is down-to-earth and management is entwined with the floor staff thus contributing to this. The timetable is flexible enough to lead some degree of a balanced lifestyle and multiple employees would cite their experiences as positive, happy and productive with some going as far to exclaim their delight at a table-tennis table in the staff room and free lunches provided. A further pro is every eight hours worked, one hour would be added to vacation time; therefore with an eight hour working day, it wouldn't be difficult to rack up the days over time. Several cons were raised, though not severe. For example, standing on the floor all day long would take its toll on the legs, salary thresholds could be reached and there was little in way of personal advancement within the corporation. In addition to this, minimal benefits are provided beyond discounts.

Using only the utmost quality goose down in their products, The North Face undergoes quality tests for each batch of down in three stages. They test for loftiness, moisture resistance and ability to revert to loft once compressed. The North Face goods are insulated with high-fill power goose down; the highest quality commercially available and this is exclusively supplied through an external source. One stand-out signature product of innovation is the Gore-Tex Performance Shell. This revolutionary patented membrane technology is specifically engineered to form an impenetrable barrier against wind and water while maintaining breathability and braves all conditions the great outdoors throws at you. The North Face has developed innovative, proprietary fabrics which integrate microporous particles to improve moisture management and temperature regulation during outdoor activity. FlashDry fabrics feature a microporous particle additive that speeds up the removal of moisture from the skin and accelerates evaporative drying. It allows the user to stay drier and more comfortable in a wide range of weather conditions and environments without adding weight or bulk and never washes or wears out.

The North Face is “the premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technologically advanced exploration apparel, footwear, equipment and accessories” (The North Face, 2011). The company designs, distributes, and sells high-spec outdoor gear and such as jackets, tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks.

The North Face recently released its premier corporate social responsibility report detailing its trek toward greener operations. The label wants at minimum 65% of fabric it uses to conform to the BlueSign sustainability standard set for textile production by the year 2015. This year, 27% of the fabric used in The North Face products meets this objective standard.
"We've taken the approach of going after our biggest impacts … and those are in our supply chain," said Adam Mott, The North Face's overseer for corporate sustainability.
"Production and manufacturing of materials account for about 75% of the environmental impact of the company's products. The further upstream we go, the more impact we have on [easing] the environmental impacts".
The greatest benefits are reaped via stepping up the sourcing and manufacture of core materials found in the majority of the label's inventory. Other initiatives are using recycled post-consumer and post-industrial waste by simply improving technology and dropping the usage of callous chemicals while upholding productive excellence. The company upholds its position in the green movement by partnering with many environmentally conscious partners such as Leave No Trace, B.E.F, AMGA and the Conservation Alliance (Seeking Alpha, 2010).

The North Face took a step-up in its dedication to freeskiing by broadening its focus on elite development in the sport through U.S. Freeskiing’s new Rookie Team. This partnership builds off the brand’s current sponsorship of the U.S. Freeskiing Team, which came to eminence in 2011 prior to halfpipe and slopestyle skiing being announced as official Olympic sporting events. The Rookie Team gives support and training through its assemblage of specialist coaches to teen athletes striving to advance themselves in halfpipe and slopestyle skiing with a view to one day making the U.S. Freeskiing Pro Team. The North Face's backing has been instrumental in the growth of freeskiing. CMO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, Mike Jaquet said, “Starting before freeskiing was recognized as an Olympic sport, we’ve worked very closely with The North Face to identify unique opportunities to further the development of the sport at the grassroots level, both on the athlete side and through competition. It’s great to work with sponsors that are so committed to fostering the sport’s growth".

Bibliography

VF Corporation - Our Brands. 2013. VF Corporation - Our Brands. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.vfc.com/brands.

The North Face Marketing plan BA 317 by Steffani Cuff on Prezi. 2013. The North Face Marketing plan BA 317 by Steffani Cuff on Prezi. [ONLINE] Available at: http://prezi.com/1ijwdzs55_xy/the-north-face-marketing-plan-ba-317/.

The North Face - Locale Selector. 2013. The North Face - Locale Selector. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.thenorthface.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/TNFLocaleSelectionForm?storeID=10005.

The North Face aims for summit of outdoor sector | Business | The Guardian . 2013. The North Face aims for summit of outdoor sector | Business | The Guardian . [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/dec/10/travelleisure-fashion.

Advertising - North Face Campaign Sends Texts When Shoppers Near Stores - NYTimes.com. 2013. Advertising - North Face Campaign Sends Texts When Shoppers Near Stores - NYTimes.com. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/business/media/23adco.html?_r=0.

The North Face - Advertising Strategy Plan. 2013. The North Face - Advertising Strategy Plan. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.slideshare.net/AshPatt14/the-north-face-advertising-strategy-plan.

North Face's First CSR Report Reveals Green Goals, Early Progress | GreenBiz.com. 2013. North Face's First CSR Report Reveals Green Goals, Early Progress | GreenBiz.com. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2011/11/29/north-faces-first-csr-report-reveals-green-goals-early-progress.

The North Face Employee Reviews | Indeed.com. 2013. The North Face Employee Reviews | Indeed.com. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.indeed.com/cmp/The-North-Face/reviews.…...

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