Whether you live in the city or the country, going outside this winter you are likely to encounter people wearing The North Face gear. North Face gear on hikers, North Face gear on skaters, North Face gear on high school students, North Face gear on fashionistas, and North Face gear on so many more. If you haven’t been paying attention to fashion trends, you might be surprised at just how ubiquitous this brand has become. However, those who have been following the clothing brand and the CMO and Global VP of product creation at The North Face, Steve Lesnard, are impressed at their branding efforts and how well their strategy has worked.
How North Face and Steve Lesnard Adapted Their Marketing Strategy for Maximum Success
For many businesses, the last twelve months have been rough. The lockdowns and layoffs that occurred in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic led to businesses everywhere either closing up shop or changing up their business model and marketing model to adapt. The North Face brand has chosen adaption and has done so by leaning into micro-brand communities.
Brand communities in and of themselves aren’t new, but how powerful more micro-brand communities have become is. Brand communities are groups of people who are connected due to their identifying with one another over collective interests and behaviors. In other words, they are connected not by demographic traits but rather by social contexts and collective consumption ideas.
But being connected by shared interests is only one part of it. While this defined brand communities, today’s culture have segmented brands even further than just big interest differences. Micro brand communities are smaller groups of brand communities that have injected their unique codes, rituals, and semiotics with their given brands and products.
What The North Face company has done over the last twelve months is not only adapt their marketing strategies to embrace these micro brand communities, but to even create new product lines that specifically cater to them.
“We’re used to serving different communities. The snowboarder versus a climber, a skier, or a hiker. They have different needs and rhythms to their season,” Steve Lesnard, CMO and Global VP of product creation at The North Face said in an interview with Highsnobiety. “So we’ve been trained over the years to think about our communities very specifically, who they are, what they need, and what the best way for us is to empower and enable them.”
Kelly Cortina, Global VP of Product Merchandising & Development at The North Face added, “So, we may develop a key [On-Mountain] product and we think about how it can be for an ‘Off- Mountain’ occasion.”
In other words, The North Face brand has started making products that were previously designed for their sports and outdoors-oriented customers, like snowboarders (On-Mountain use), and adapting them specifically for marketing toward non-snowboarders (Off-Mountain use).