The North Face - Advertising Strategy Plan


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The North Face - Advertising Strategy Plan

  1. 1. THE NORTH FACE 1 Advertising Strategy Plan: Situation Analysis, SWOT, Advertising Plan, Creative Brief, and Creative Assessment
  2. 2. THE NORTH FACE 2SITUATION ANALYSISIntroduction The following brand case study and situation analysis is an in-depth look at The NorthFace, Inc., which is a subsidiary of VF Corporation. The following research not only looks atThe North Face individually, but also its overall parent company, and even the competitorswithin the market. It evaluates the situation and trends in the company‟s market as the world‟spremier supplier of authentic, innovation, and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment,and footwear. Looking closely at the company as a whole, a SWOT analysis, its competition, themarket it is in, and the audience it tries to reach gives great insight into The North Face.Company The North Face, Inc. and its employees are visionaries; their passion is beyond settingrecords and achieving fame. For them, it‟s all about changing and inspiring the lives of thoseindividuals who motivate them to aim for extraordinary dreams. With a philosophy centered onteamwork and helping others to excel and push their boundaries, The North Face lives by thecatchphrase, “Never Stop Exploring.” The North Face, a subsidiary of VF Corporation, is theworld‟s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel,equipment, and footwear (VF Corporation, 2010). Although their products are competitivelypriced, all their products come with the added value of a lifetime manufacturer‟s warranty, whichis a promise that products are fully warranted to the original owner against defects in materialsand workmanship (Seeking Alpha, 2010). The North Face strives for the highest qualityproducts and is continually innovating their products, and in doing so they have built strongcustomer loyalty and brand preference.
  3. 3. THE NORTH FACE 3 With cutting edge, high quality performance products, The North Face has managed to bethe first choice of the world‟s most accomplished climbers, mountaineers, extreme skiers,snowboarders, endurance runners, and explorers (Hoover‟s, 2011). The North Face has beeneffective in creating brand awareness by projecting a technically sophisticated and genuineimage that appeals to professional, and serious outdoor fanatics, as well as a much broadersegment of consumers. It strives to focus and build on its distinctive competencies: productreputation and differentiation, innovative product design and diversity, and aggressive entry intothe casual wear market, all of which have kept the brand relevant within the industry (Hoover‟s,2011). The North Face is striving to be a sustainable brand, using recycled post consumer andpost industrial waste products simply by improving technologies and reducing the use of harshchemicals and excess materials while upholding the product quality. The company upholds itsposition in the green movement by partnering with many environmentally conscious partnerssuch as Leave No Trace, B.E.F, AMGA and the Conservation Alliance (Seeking Alpha, 2010). The North Face has designed its strategies around the idea of going above and beyondconsumers‟ expectations, and making sure their products create a sense of contentment and theknowledge that the product purchased is one that consumers can trust. Its continued reputationfor superior products, performance and authenticity differentiates and exemplifies the brand andits image. The companys products can be found in specialty mountaineering, backpacking,running, and snow sport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialtyretail chains in North and South America, Europe, and Asia; and its website (VF Corporation,2010). The website is a focus for their exclusive sales promotions, which saves the companyongoing logistics revenue and increases sales revenues.
  4. 4. THE NORTH FACE 4 As parent company to The North Face, VF Corporation offers a number of brandedlifestyle apparel products in various categories including jeanswear, outerwear, footwear, andsportswear (Data Monitor, 2010). Some of their brands include: Vans, Wrangler, JanSport,Nautica and others. Specifically, The North Face specializes in outdoor apparel and equipment,including jackets, fleece, boots, tents, backpacks, and the like. Unfortunately, the industries ofmen and women‟s apparel manufacturing have been suffering. Over the past five years,revenues in both categories have declined drastically. This negative growth can be explained bythe fact that companies have been outsourcing their manufacturing operations to lower costs(Panteva, 2010). However, VF Corporation has been able to overcome these challenges and hasexperienced growth in the past five years, totaling over $7 billion (Panteva, 2010). The VF Corporation, and more specifically, The North Face‟s products have an array ofbenefits and features that appeal to their consumers. VF Corporation is especially known forhaving innovative, high-tech outdoor apparel and equipment. They position themselves aroundthe fact that their gear is ideal for the “extreme” risk-taker, and only the most intense adventurersand athletes use their products.SWOT AnalysisStrengths The North Face is a subsidiary of the VF Corporation, which is a leader in Americanapparel corporations. Even with the various brands under the VF Corporation name, The NorthFace is its largest outdoor and action sports brand (MarketLine, 2011). The North Face brand isavailable to purchase in multiple ways. One can either go directly to The North Face website, orvisit the various stores its products are stocked in. It not only has its own single brand stores, butis also stocked in larger department stores like Dick‟s Sporting Goods, and smaller local outdoor
  5. 5. THE NORTH FACE 5apparel stores (MarketLine, 2011). The North Face brand‟s apparel lines consist of outerwear,snow sports gear, and functional sportswear and footwear for men, women, and children(MarketLine, 2011). This variety of products enables it to reach a larger target marketencompassing men, women, and children, which can ultimately increase revenue. An uniquestrength that The North Face has, is the fact that the former President of The North Face andChief Executive Officer at The North Face, Europe is now the President of VF International andVice President of VF Corporation (MarketLine, 2011). This is a strength because it is unlikelythat The North Face will be put to the wayside or ignored because someone who was once alarge part of brand, is now a big name in its parent company that controls The North Face‟sfuture.Weaknesses There are only a few weaknesses The North Face must deal with. First, its products arefor outdoor and action sports, and does not consist of much apparel for individuals living inwarmer climates (MarketLine, 2011). This, however, is not too much of a weakness, because theniche market it has created, has allowed The North Face to be considered a top brand for itsconsumers. Another weakness of The North Face brand is its high prices. These prices are highdue to the quality of the product and the positive stigma attached to the brand. The high pricedue to quality is especially due to The North Face‟s new focus on sustainability. According toLetitia Webster, director of corporate sustainability for VF Corp, a big challenge The North Facedeals with is to make sustainable, high quality products, at a good price for consumers (Nusca,2011).
  6. 6. THE NORTH FACE 6Opportunities The North Face has many opportunities to improve its brand and increase profit. Lastyear, VF Corporation had focused investments in The North Face which helped drive solidresults of 6% revenue growth (MarketLine, 2011). If VF Corporation continues to invest moreinto The North Face, they could continue to bring in more money for both The North Face, andthe VF Corporation as a whole. Another opportunity for The North Face is the introduction oftheir new sustainability focus. They want to “refashion its immensely popular products to bemore friendly to the environment…with four key sustainability goals: achieve a 100-percentsustainable product line, reduce energy and greenhouse gases, achieve sustainability with regardto waste, [and] foster community and promote sustainability efforts” (Nusca, 2011). Due to thebig push for being green and environmentally friendly, this new positioning strategy andcommitment provides ample opportunity for The North Face to gain new customers. Anopportunity that The North Face has yet to explore fully is an association with the sports industrythat could provide more market leadership for the brand (MarketLine, 2011). Though The NorthFace currently holds partnerships with the Alpine Club of Canada or USA Climbing, those arenot well known teams or organizations. Even sponsoring the Winter Olympics, or an Olympicteam would help get the name of The North Face out to the world. The greatest opportunity forgrowth The North Face has is focused advertising on the college demographic in the Midwestregion of the United States. This untapped market segment can be heavily marketing towards toincrease sales and revenue of many TNF products.Threats The North Face faces intense competition with many brands through both direct andsecondary competitors. The markets for sportswear and outerwear are highly competitive. Some
  7. 7. THE NORTH FACE 7competitors include Patagonia, Columbia Sportswear Company, L.L. Bean, Nike, Eddie Bauer,and many more. “In each of its geographic markets, the company faces significant competitionfrom global and regional branded apparel and equipment companies” (MarketLine, 2011). Oneof the biggest threats that The North Face deals with is counterfeit products. Because The NorthFace can be considered a “pricey” product, many people are turning to sites like eBay to buythese brands, but instead they find out that what they are getting is counterfeit (McCloud, 2011).These counterfeit schemes divert income from legitimate manufacturers, like The North Face,while cheating the government out of tax revenue (The Associated Press, 2007). Unfortunately,The North Face is not gaining any profit, but people are still walking around wearing their brand.Additionally, the current economic recession is a threat to The North Face because people haveless disposable income to spend on items they don‟t necessarily need, such as expensiveouterwear.Competition The main problem that the VF Corporation and The North Face have to deal with is thecompetition from less expensive alternatives. The North Face produces goods that are almostalways more expensive than its competitors. These competitors, which include ColumbiaSportswear, Nike, L.L. Bean, and Patagonia, can offer similar products at a much lower price,and this means potential consumers are choosing other options (Hoover‟s, 2011). Due to this,The North Face has to use its advantage of being a respected leader in the industry, and beingconsidered worth the higher price, to keep their customers loyal to them. The North Face usesvarious channels to distribute their products including specialty sporting goods stores and variouswebsites and online stores (Hoover‟s, 2011). Therefore, consumers can buy products fromvarious retailers and franchises, or they can go straight to the manufacturer for more options.
  8. 8. THE NORTH FACE 8 The company strives to do things differently by maintaining a certain kind of innovativeproduct design. An example of this is The North Face‟s advantage is the consistent developmentand the introduction of new products (MarketLine, 2011). The North Face‟s key valueproposition is that the looks, style, durability and quality of their products are their strongestattributes. A part of The North Face‟s strategy is to be aware and understand their competitor‟sstrengths and weaknesses because that enables them to build off of and maintain a competitiveadvantage within society to position them differently. Compared to The North Face, a maincompetitor like Patagonia has some key strengths and weaknesses relative to The North Face.The major strengths for Patagonia would involve customer service policies, including those forreturns and repairs, and employee knowledge and lifestyle (MarketLine, 2011). Missionstatements that carry through to products, distribution channels, marketing, and philanthropiccauses are more general strengths for Patagonia. Patagonia has great direct-to-consumerdistribution methods such as their website (which is made to navigate through easily), stores,catalog, and expansion into surf shops that stay true to corporate mission, a sense of„community‟ built for customers (Patagonia, 2011). Weaknesses in regards to Patagonia are thatthey are slow to expand their product lines and expand into new outdoor sporting areas. A largeweakness is their prices, which are higher than some competition, particularly in the minds ofuninformed consumers, while having limited distribution partners (MarketLine, 2011). The North Face advertises on consumer behaviors and their outlooks. Presently, healthhas become an increasingly important issue, and the behavioral and lifestyle attitudes ofindividuals have become a target for the company as well. They advertise to their target marketsby focusing a lot on the importance of exercise. An example of this is the advertising they do for
  9. 9. THE NORTH FACE 9their apparel and gear. They incorporate camping, hiking, and extreme sports to show a healthierlifestyle which in turn appeals to their target demographic (The North Face, 2011). The North Face‟s current three major demographics would include outdoor enthusiastswho consist of men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 within in middle to uppersocioeconomic bracket. These customers are thought to be the most profitable, and brand loyalconsumers. Because of their active outdoor lifestyles, these consumers are concerned withreliability, and the proper maintenance of their outdoor gear. The second group to advertise towould be the health conscious. This group consists of men and women aged 25-50 in anupper/middle socioeconomic bracket. The third group is considered “others” which are men andwomen, aged 50-75 from lower to upper socioeconomic brackets (MarketLine, 2011). Focusingadvertising efforts on the college demographic in the Midwest regions of the United States is agreat opportunity for The North Face to increase its revenue. The North Face‟s growth relative to competitors can be viewed from the facts from thefiscal year ending December 2009. The sales indicated $1,200.0 million overall and had a oneyear growth of 106,283.0%. Presently, in terms of their main competitor Patagonia, their keynumbers for fiscal year ending in April 2010 was $400.0 million in sales. L.L. Bean‟s sales wereat $1,500.0 million and had a one year growth of 7.1% for the fiscal year ending in February2010 (Hoover‟s, 2011). The North Face wants to provide the highest quality products so that customers feelsecure in their purchases. This allows them to maintain their customer‟s trust. Their marketingstrategies are to go above and beyond the competitors and above and beyond the customer‟sexpectations.
  10. 10. THE NORTH FACE 10Market The North Face is “the premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technologicallyadvanced exploration apparel, footwear, equipment and accessories” (The North Face, 2011). Asstated before, the target market includes men and women within various age ranges. Thecompany designs, distributes, and retails high-tech outdoor apparel and gear, such as jackets,tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks, as a subsidiary of VF Corporation. Its products are soldthrough specialty sporting goods stores in North and South America, Europe, and Asia; morethan 250 namesake stores operated by third parties in Europe and Asia; some 50 company-ownedEuropean and US outlets; and its website (Hoover‟s, 2011). The VF Corporation uses a direct-to-consumer business as an important part of their strategy, especially with The North Face (VFCorporation, 2011). The success of the VF Corporation is due in large part to The North Face‟sgrowth. “In 2010 VF‟s Outdoor & Action Sports Coalition will comprise more than 40% ofVF‟s total revenues and we expect these will continue to be our fastest growing businesses overthe coming years. The power and potential of The North Face brand will be a key driver of ourgrowth,” said Eric Wiseman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VF Corporation.According to Hoovers, The North Face is connecting with its customers in innovative ways andleveraging the full strength of the brand to inspire and enable the next generation of outdoorenthusiasts (VF Corporation, 2010). The North Face is in a focused, niche industry, and attemptsto sustain growth in a field with a limited number of consumers. The company has“recommended itself as a company poised for future growth by building: brand-namerecognition, product reputation and differentiation, innovative product design and diversity,aggressive entry into the casual wear market, and, as attested to by company profits andincreases in the value of the companys stock, the decisive and able senior-level management that
  11. 11. THE NORTH FACE 11would continue to drive North Faces climb to success” (Hoover‟s, 2011). Through these ideas,especially with the innovation of product design, such as making the products more sustainable,and an entry into the casual wear market, will widen the target audience of consumers.Audience The North Face currently targets people with an interest in mountaineering, skiing andbackpacking. They produce high performance gear like tents and sleeping bags able to performin the most severe conditions. The psychographics for The North Face target market are peoplewith an active lifestyle, who exercise regularly and who enjoy the outdoors. The brand has morerecently expanded into retail stores with a large line of outerwear. It has become very popularwith high school and college students who use their products to keep warm in the fall and wintermonths. “When hip-hop stars sported The North Face jackets in their music videos, the brandtook on an iconic quality” (Silverstein, 2008). The target demographic for their outerwearproducts is middle class youth and adults. This demographic can be targeted more directlythough focused advertising on college students and their use of TNF products. The North Facealso invests heavily in high-performance athletic events. An example of this is The North Facesponsorship of “The North Face Endurance Challenge” presented by Gore-Tex (a North Facepartner/supplier) (Silverstein, 2008). They have also sponsored all sorts of endurance eventsacross the country and attract some of the most impressive athletes. The North Face‟sadvertising strategy in print, TV or innovative in-store kiosks, is to show “visual journals” ofathletes‟ expeditions. “The company also launched an online magazine called Epic that featuresphotography and articles appealing to people who are passionate about backcountry sports, fromrock climbing, backpacking, and bouldering, to trail running, mountaineering, skiing,snowboarding, ice climbing and more” (Silverstein, 2008). The North Face is also beginning to
  12. 12. THE NORTH FACE 12use some non-traditional media to drive customers to their stores. They now have an iPhone appthat gives skiers information about snow conditions and trail maps. They also started a campaignthat will give consumers promotional information if they sign up for a texting service. Thecampaign was created by Placecast, a location-based mobile ad company in San Francisco. Ituses a practice called geo-fencing, which draws a virtual perimeter around a particular location(Miller, 2010). Once the customer enters the location they will receive a text giving them dealsat the nearest store. This advertising fits well within the college demographic and can be utilizedto help promote The North Face brand to these individuals better. The North Face communication and advertising strategies are largely internet based withother 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 haveto rely on strong traditional advertising outlets, but be most reliant on word of mouth advertisingwithin their loyal consumer base (Hoover‟s, 2011).Conclusion Even with its multiple competitors, The North Face has managed to stay on top of theoutdoor and action sports apparel and gear market. They are able to not only focus on theircurrent strengths, but also incorporate new innovations in order to improve the overall success ofthe company. It is easy to see why it is the most successful of all VF Corporation brands.Though there are aspects that The North Face needs to improve on, it is currently on the righttrack as a successful and continuously growing company. The first step to these improvements isan advertising campaign targeted at college students living in the Midwest United States, whocan find great use out of The North Face‟s many product lines.
  13. 13. THE NORTH FACE 13ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNBrand Challenge The North Face is a well-established brand that is a category leader in the outdoor apparelindustry. Nearly every person in the United States has heard of the North Face brand. However,there are some ways the company could improve to further their lead in the industry. The main opportunity that the brand is not currently taking advantage of is targeting thecollege market. College students and their parents are a huge consumer group that has thepotential to buy The North Face products. This market has not been marketed to, and therefore isnot reaching its full potential for buying products. The North Face needs to create advertisingthat targets the college student market with a compelling value proposition that uniquelyaddresses their needs that they can take advantage of the potential this market possesses.Advertising Objectives This campaign focuses on generating primary demand, promoting the North Face brandas a whole line of clothing and gear as opposed to generating interest and focusing in on theoutdoor jacket market. Educating consumer about The North Face‟s products will make themrealize why The North Face is the perfect choice for them. The North Face should seek indirectaction from its customers by influencing their implicit attitudes through its advertising messages.This is possible because The North Face‟s products have high brand recognition and recall in itstarget market‟s evoked sets when it comes to outdoor apparel. On the advertising pyramid TheNorth Face has surpassed the awareness, interest and credibility blocks and should focus oncreating desire and action toward its products. The North Face needs to get the consumer to itschannels of distribution and keep focus on how its products will benefit the life of the consumerthrough the high quality, durability and comfort that its products promise. To maintain the
  14. 14. THE NORTH FACE 14strength of the brand relevance The North Face needs to continue to promote its brandconsistently within the existing strategy while also expanding to trying to influence a new targetmarket, from extreme outdoor enthusiasts to your everyday college student who happens to be alarge consumer segment. Because of The North Face‟s highly recognized and well-respectedbrand, they need to influence our target market that highlights that they are the best, next to noneand that TNF apparel is the only solution to their cold weather needs.Primary ResearchResearch QuestionsThere were many questions that needed to be answered before beginning to design the newcampaign for The North Face:  What is the demographic profile of college students that purchase The North Face?  What is the psychographic profile of college students that purchase The North Face?  What is the geographic profile of college students that purchase The North Face?  Who influences college students‟ purchase decisions regarding outdoor apparel?  Where do college students go when shopping for outdoor apparel?  What factors influence college students‟ purchase decisions regarding outdoor apparel? Upon conducting some primary research, most responses were received from the primarymarket, which allows The North Face to better focus on some strengths and weaknesses it faceswith its brand. Of the respondents to who chose to answer what products they own specifically, itwas found that 100% of the respondents owned a jacket. In the campaign The North Face wouldwant to make sure this is an area we focus our goals on want to make sure we advertise andpromote the plethora of products it has to offer, such as backpacks, hats, gloves, and boots, notonly their jackets.
  15. 15. THE NORTH FACE 15 It was also found that price is a very important influence in purchasing behavior for thistarget segment because they don‟t have the luxury of disposable income. Because, The NorthFace‟s products are competitively priced TNF has to make sure to position itself against itscompetitors within its target market as a brand and product that is relentless for providing thehighest quality of products. This contributes to why 20% of the respondents said that theirparent‟s influence them during a buying decision, most likely because they are paying the fundsand making the actual purchase. This also helps The North Face with this campaign in that itneeds to influence a secondary market, of which would include the 18-24 segments peers,parents and siblings alike, broadening its reach and influence. Furthermore, it was found that58.8% of respondents are influenced by their peers to make these purchases. This fact might shedlight upon the booming popularity of The North Face products, namely jackets, among collegecampuses. It seems to be a fashion statement hand in hand with the quality, comfort, style anddurability that The North Face products promise. Does anyone influence your buying decisions? If so who?
  16. 16. THE NORTH FACE 16 To what extent does price affect your purchase decision on a scale of 1-5? (1-most/5-least) By penetrating this market with advertising and promotions The North Face can keep itscurrent customers while making sure it changes the tone and feel of the overall marketingstrategy to more heavily focus on the college-aged consumer segment and expanding its sellingpoints across the board for all the products The North Face has to offer.Brand StrategyWho The target audience for this campaign is 18-24 year old college students. The campaignwill focus on college students from middle class families in the Midwest United States looking tostay warm during the colder seasons, and also students that have an active, athletic lifestyle. TheNorth Face needs to target this market because of their tremendous buying power and becauseThe North Face brand already has established credibility with college students. College studentsare generally more active and lead a more athletic lifestyle than most segments, therefore theycan benefit from a vast array of products that North Face produces. The North Face has many
  17. 17. THE NORTH FACE 17outerwear products that appeal to college students because of the style, comfort, versatility anddurability. It is believed that college students already view the brand as being “cool,” so targetingthem should be very effective and increase sales across the extensive product line. College students may be more willing to spend money on fashionable clothes than othersegments because looking good is a huge factor in their self-esteem. Most college students areeither desperately trying to fit in, or desperately trying to stand out. Both of these desires are partof the buying influences The North Face should seek to influence in order to drive them to buyThe North Face products. With respect to Maslow‟s hierarchy, esteem appeals are strong withthe college market. In order to take advantage of this when constructing an advertising campaign,the models in print or television ads should be shown in such a way that they appear confident,comfortable, sexy and popular. The ads should let college students know that if they buy TheNorth Face then they will not only be accepted by others, but that because they wear The NorthFace they stand out amongst the crowd. College students are often trendsetters for other segments of the market. The North Facehas the opportunity to capture a secondary market of recent graduates and parents of collegestudents. Parents of college students are exposed to the brand through their children andtherefore may be interested in The North Face‟s products and the attributes associated with theseproducts. Additionally, high school and middle school children may emulate them because theylook up to college kids as role models.Target Audience Profiles Jill: She is a 20-year-old college sophomore at the University of Iowa. She enjoysvolleyball and running. Staying up with fashion trends is very important to her. Style and
  18. 18. THE NORTH FACE 18versatility are the most important factors for her when she buys outdoor apparel. Her parentsmake over $100,000 a year and she has a job on campus, so money is not too much of an issue. Mark: He is a 22-year-old college senior at Michigan State University. He enjoysbasketball and snowboarding. To him outdoor apparel is mainly just to keep you warm outside,but he does prefer quality brands. He is mostly concerned with comfort and durability whenpurchasing outdoor apparel. He comes from an upper middle class family, so price is not aconcern when buying outdoor apparel. Nancy: She is a 47-year-old, married, mother of three. She has a 23-year-old daughter,and two sons who are 20 and 18 years old. She makes over $40,000 a year and lives in Chicago,IL. She is a loving mother who wants the best for all her kids. She frequently shops for outdoorapparel for them, and is very conscientious of which brands they prefer. When shopping forherself she prefers brands that are stylish but that will also last for a long time. She will alsofrequently take advice from her children when she is shopping for outdoor apparel.What The North Face is a category leader for outdoor apparel and gear. This positioning willbe focused on throughout the advertising campaign. In The North Face‟s advertising, nocompetitors will be mentioned or compared against, because the brand‟s various keydifferentiators position The North Face as the category leader. Though The North Face hascompetitors that make similar products, such as Patagonia, Columbia Sportswear, L.L. Bean, andothers, the image that will be conveyed in our message is that no other brand can compare.COPY PLATFORMAd Subject: The North Face Product Relationship
  19. 19. THE NORTH FACE 19Ad Problem: The related products (coats, backpacks, shoes,gloves, etc.) need to gain some identity and find its place inthe market.Product Characteristics: Category leader in technological innovation of products. Sustainability, Comfortability, Durability, Weatherresistant, Endurance.Advertising Objective: Help increase sales by building on brand loyalty to The NorthFace.Target Market: Young, single college students, 18-24. These students wouldbe the decision makers and influencers, even if they aren’t theactual purchasers. Parents of the college students, who may be the ones actuallypurchasing the product.Competition: Patagonia, Columbia Sportswear, L.L. Bean, EddieBauerStatement of Benefit or Appeal: 1) The North Face is sustainable. 2) The North Face is comfortable. 3) The North Face is trendy.Creative Elements The advertising strategy for The North Face will include art elements such as print ads,commercials, Internet marketing, in-store promotions, and other non-traditional marketing. Thisadvertising strategy position the product for the target market of 18-24 year old college students,with heavy focus on those living in the Midwest, along with the secondary market of theseindividuals‟ parents. This strategy was chosen because it fits well with The North Face‟s currentlocation in the product life cycle. Because, it has already been established as a category leader,
  20. 20. THE NORTH FACE 20The North Face is current located on the Maturity stage of the product life cycle. Sales volumehas reached a steady state and only loyal customers purchase the product. In the hopes ofavoiding the decline phase, The North Face can use this advertising strategy to gain newcustomers and increase sales volume. This will not necessarily change the position of The NorthFace in the product life cycle; only further it as a category leader. As stated earlier, the visual appeal will consist of art elements such as print ads andcommercials. These will need to express the tone and attitude of The North Face, such asyouthful, comfortable, and quality. These art elements will move away from the currentadvertising efforts of heavy focus on extreme sport scenarios and will instead be more relevant tocollege students and college life. They will feature college students using various North Faceproducts in everyday aspects of their life. The following example will be used in advertising forthe Midwest region of the United States and in areas of colder climates. Both print and videocan feature college students wearing The North Face jackets, boots, gloves, hats, and backpacksand walk through the snowy campus to get to class. The North Face label will be visible on allproducts. The copy of these ads will be: “Our way to walk uphill both ways.” This will play offthe old parental saying about walking uphill both ways to get to school. This will position TheNorth Face products as innovative and durable, and especially youthful. Non-traditional advertising for The North Face will include a heavy focus on socialmedia like Facebook and Twitter. Though The North Face is already working with these tools, itis important to push the use of social media because it is a large part of college students‟ lives.Their continuous use of social media will always keep The North Face at top-of-mind withcontinuous updates. It will also be beneficial to The North Face to establish brand ambassadorson college campuses in the Midwest regions of the United States. These student brand
  21. 21. THE NORTH FACE 21ambassadors will be able to target The North Face brand more effectively to college studentsbecause they will be at the center of where these students are daily. The ambassadors can createpromotional opportunities for The North Face on campus, such as event sponsorships. Anexample of an event could be a student film festival, in which students create films of situationsin which they use The North Face products, including sports or everyday activities. Any way oflinking The North Face to college life will be beneficial in promoting the brand.Ad Strategy The North Face needs to ensure that its products are cleverly and thoughtfully marketedto the appropriate consumer groups. Establishing itself in the college market and for its productsto sell successfully, thus achieving company goals and profitability it will essential to thoroughlyunderstand consumer behavior. Within the marketing strategy it is important to determine a lowor high involvement approach for The North Face because it indicates the consumers that will bemaking consumer purchase decisions. Perception will play a huge role in forming attitudes towards the range of products thatThe North Face has to offer. Therefore, a low involvement strategy would be beneficial toindicate how favorable perceptions with The North Face brand identity within the collegemarket. A low involvement strategy will require a high level of frequency toward collegestudents. Repetition will get the message out and keep it fresh in the target‟s mind and thereforeget the target audience to be more aware of the products, and therefore make decisions aboutpurchasing The North Face products. By purchasing The North Face products, the target marketwill influence others and secondary audiences even though they might not necessarily be makingthe direct purchase of The North Face products.
  22. 22. THE NORTH FACE 22 On the other hand, high involvement strategy also pertains to The North Face marketingplan because of the influence the product has directed toward targeted consumers, thus giving thebuying or purchasing power to their parents or the consumers that will carry out the buy. So it isimperative to bring about awareness of the product and its attributes along with a belief of thebrand that will create an attitude that will result in a purchase. In hindsight, the low and highstrategies go hand-in-hand with each other in this marketing strategy because of the specifictarget audience we are targeting. This translates to using a two-pronged approach to target the college student market.Some of the ads used will be more informational, which is ideal when targeting consumers thatview the purchase as a high involvement purchase. Additionally, some ads will have lessinformation but be heavily based on visual appeals. These ads will be used more frequently toinfluence consumers that view the purchase as a low involvement purchase.Communications Media The North Face‟s media strategy is to heighten product awareness as well as to attractperspective college students who may or may yet try The North Face products. The mediastrategy primarily focuses on developing valuable campaigns that surround the basis of style andquality to college students who are not necessarily outdoor enthusiasts. The media strategy willconcentrate on frequency and reach to target audience. This approach will be most effectivebecause The North Face needs the target market of college students to see the message over andover. Reach will further increase awareness because all college markets within the countryshould be exposed to the advertising message at least once. The media vehicles to achieve this media strategy that will generate further interest inThe North Face brand will include TV, social media, and newspapers that are distinctive toward
  23. 23. THE NORTH FACE 23the college campuses within the country. The secondary vehicles will include a documentaryseries on campuses, student ambassadors for The North Face products and specific events duringfootball games along with other major occasions that take place throughout college universities. Primarily the TV will induce recall for the target audience. TV will achieve reaching thetarget audience and leave them with visual and recall that allow for The North Face‟s message tobe assimilated into the college student consumer‟s minds therefore definitely develop andgenerate the extra brand awareness. Social media will continue to be a big media vehicle becauseit will enable majority of college students who are on social media web sites on a daily basis torecognize and become a fan of The North Face brand. Newspapers will allow for further in-depth detail about The North Face brand, and theincentives that each of the products offers, will continue to uphold the brand awareness that TheNorth Face wants to aim at when achieving more opportunities for growth beyond the brand.All of the secondary media communications will be focused on sustaining brand relevance andincreasing brand equity for The North Face. These extra engaging communication tools will helpcontinue contingency within the minds of our college student consumers. By engagingconsumers in the advertising for The North Face, the brand will gain even more exposure byword-of-mouth. When students hear about a brand from their peers, it makes the brand seemeven more credible to the market, which also improves consumer attitudes of the brand.
  24. 24. THE NORTH FACE 24 ReferencesDatamonitor. (2010, August 13). VF Corporation, Company profile. Datamonitor Report, 1-29. Retrieved from login.aspx?direct=true&db=dmhls&AN=83847A82-2A4A-4AB3-B666- 4FACDF9075FA&site=bsi-liveHoover‟s. (2011, February 15). The North Face. Hoover‟s Company Records - In-depth Records. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from LexisNexis Academic database.Hoover‟s. (2011, February 22). VF Corporation. Hoover‟s Company Records - In-depth Records. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from LexisNexis Academic database.MarketLine. (2011). Columbia Sportswear Company profile. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from MarketLine Business Information Centre database.MarketLine. (2011). L.L. Bean, Inc. profile. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from MarketLine Business Information Centre database.MarketLine. (2011). VF Corporation profile. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from MarketLine Business Information Centre database.McCloud, L. (2011. Feb 18). Beware of Fake North Face Jackets. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from north_face_jackets.html?cat=46
  25. 25. THE NORTH FACE 25Miller, C.C. (2010, February 22). Take a step closer for an invitation to shop. The New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2010, from business/media/23adco.htmlNusca, A. (2011. February 2). At The North Face, a new sustainability mantra. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from north-face-a-new-sustainability-mantra/14098/Panteva, N. (2011, January). Men‟s & boys‟ apparel manufacturing in the US [Special section]. IBISWorld, 2-34. Retrieved from http://ibisworld.comPanteva, N. (2010, November). Women‟s & girls‟ apparel manufacturing in the US [Special section]. IBISWorld, 2-37. Retrieved from http://ibisworld.comPatagonia (2011). http://www.patagonia.comSeeking Alpha (2010). "Retail: Fashions North Face conquest: Climbing brand aims to be the Nike of outdoors, without sacrificing its standards." Retrieved on February 26, 2011, from climbing-brand-aims-to-be-the-nike-of-outdoors-without-sacrificing-its-standardsSilverstein, B. (2008, January 7). The north face into the brand. Retrieved on February 22, 2011, from Associated Press (2007, June 26). Customs brokers charged in counterfeit scheme: Workers allegedly tried to import Chinese-made Nike, Rolex knockoffs. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from North Face (2011).
  26. 26. THE NORTH FACE 26VF Corporation (2011). http://www.vfc.comVF Corporation. (December 15, 2010). VF Corporations The North Face® Brand: Geared for Growth. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved Feburary 22, 2011, from