The North Face offers something for everyone today. On-Mountain, Off-Mountain, in the C-Suite, and on the local community college campus. The brand has always been popular, but recently the customer based has seemingly expanded organically. So, what’s behind the surge in popularity? Perhaps a brand marketing strategy adjustment.
Certainly, new leadership at the helm played a role. In a 2019 interview Steve Lesnard (as newly appointed Global VP of Marketing at The North Face) said that the best way to identify opportunities for brands and services to connect with consumers is to truly understand their needs, aspirations, and journeys. As the North Face CMO and Global VP of product creation, Steve Lesnard invested plenty of time getting to know the people on the other side of the transaction. By creating the most relevant and meaningful proposition for the diverse customer groups who engage with the brand, the North Face was able to cross-cultural, age, and social barriers.
Of course, that isn’t a new concept for the brand, but under Lesnard’s leadership, the company re-prioritized solving customer pain points, catering to their customer base, and attracting new loyalists around the world. Part of the “new” brand marketing strategy included bringing the Off-Mountain side of the business to full-maturity. Essentially, they expanded their lifestyle branding model to include a fully-developed Off-Mountain approach that targets micro-cultures and small communities within larger consumer communities with shared interests. Dean Cook (head of menswear buying at Browns in London) said the allure is that “Everyone can wear it, but they can make it their own.”
Along with this hyper customer-focused brand marketing strategy, the company reimagined new product launch patterns and stepped back a bit from traditional marketing campaigns. TNF now runs their Off-Mountain side of the house like similar sportswear brands. They now target key cities, take advantage of seasonal drops and bring back archived products reimagined and re-energized for today’s consumer groups.
Another thing that differentiates the “old TNF” from the “new TNF” brand marketing approach is the social media policy. Rather than use a single catchphrase to connect with their brand followers, the North Face has a host of sub-groups under their main group that functions as niche spaces pulling everyone in under the same umbrella. This strategic adjustment means that whether a consumer is introduced to the brand by a friend, a city-targeted ad campaign, or an organic search for social media groups, The North Face can be a part of the conversation, drawing in new customers and learning more about behaviors that drive purchases simultaneously.
A component of ensuring the brand proposition resonates with targeted groups is maintaining excellent performance. The North Face stays fully committed to satisfying the core outdoor sports enthusiasts who drive brand growth. Without performance as an outdoor brand, the company would falter. However, today there is a stronger effort to draw in new people with innovative, new, and better products that bring their fragmented customer-base into the world of outdoor sports, regardless of where they first connected with the brand.
The North Face is on a mission to expand the outdoor lifestyle. There is a transformation in progress that blurs the lines between love for outdoor sports and a love for the outdoor lifestyle. Performance and lifestyle are no longer worlds apart. And, TNF has adapted its brand marketing strategy, capitalizing on new consumer behavior to make that evolution seamless and profitable.