It’s common knowledge that the brick-and-mortar retail industry is facing great challenges. Yet, in the midst of this menacing reality, The North Face has recently made a massive investment in the redesign of its store in the SoHo district of New York City, and the company plans to soon redesign all of its 160 retail outlets that span the United States, along with over 1,000 stores around the globe in the same fashion.
New Blood Brings New Ideas to the Camp
This extensive campaign to change the face of The North Face on the ground marks the start of a new era for the brand, led by the company’s new VP in charge of global marketing, Steve Lesnard, the expert who elevated a major sportswear brand to its peak. Lesnard is at the helm of the brand’s new approach to consumer relations, which puts the focus on providing actual service and personal attention to consumers, a strategy that he is convinced is the best way to effectively build a loyal consumer base that will give the brand lasting power.
Lesnard is committed to growing big, disruptive ideas and believes in the power of those ideas to impact and transform society. He has channeled his lifelong passion for sports and the great outdoors into a marketing strategy that connects brands to the communities of users that build and support their growth. Lesnard notes that the brand’s retail stores are still profitable, even in today’s rapidly changing retail environment. The stores also serve a specific purpose. “Our direct-to-consumer stores help elevate the brand,” he explains, “but drawing traffic at retail today requires stores to be distinctive.”
To achieve this distinction, the store acts as a hub where consumers can gather information and participate in interactive activities that inform and empower them, such as interacting with store guides that teach them skills, like how to pitch a tent. The store also caters to online shoppers with lockers that hold orders placed online so that customers can pick them up at their convenience. This service gets them to enter the store and experience the bounty of activities and services that it offers.
Features of The North Face’s New Store
The new location at 584 Broadway celebrated its highly promoted grand opening recently, an event that proved to be a visionary experience, showcasing the brand’s most renowned products in displays that were visually engaging, as well as interactive experiences that contribute to a community mindset. The store provides 8,000 square feet of innovative retail concepts designed to provide consumers with a physical location that acts a hub that dispenses information and provides activities that serve outdoor enthusiasts from amateurs to professional athletes. Among its many offerings, the store hosts special events to promote product launches and provides the community with screenings of outdoor films, a speaker series, and themed activities that exemplify what the brand stands for and its commitment to the global community of outdoor aficionados.
The concept behind the new SoHo store is to make the space feel as adventurous as an actual outdoor expedition. The company wants to provide inspiration, information, and resources for athletes and nature enthusiasts who want to explore the outdoors, be they amateurs or pros. The merchandise displays are visually stunning and capture the spirit of the great outdoors, showcasing the brand’s products in a context that brings them to life. There are also “guides” available throughout the location that provide hands-on instruction for consumers to help them learn such things as how to pitch a tent or how to make the best use of the company’s wide assortment of camping gear.
The store also displays the brand’s commitment to sustainability and protection of the natural environment by using eco-conscious building materials, such as Forest Stewardship Council-certified reclaimed wood, steel, and granite and organic compound paints that are far less toxic than their volatile counterparts. In this way, the physical store acts as a showcase for not only the brand’s products but also its heritage and values, connecting the company to its support base that shares those same values.
New Product Lines Provide More Eco-Conscious Offerings
Among the newest product lines that The North Face is promoting in conjunction with its new retail concept are the Thermoball line of compact, packable outerwear created from recycled materials and its newest collection of breathable, waterproof outerwear called Futurelight, set to launch on October 1. Additionally, in a nod to Lesnard’s advancement of the running line at a large sportswear brand, The North Face will soon feature new collections of specialized footwear designed to enhance outdoor activities, such as hiking and climbing. The new store also features a department dedicated to women’s outdoor apparel that doubles as casual streetwear, and the company plans to expand it women’s collection, which represents about half of its sales.
New Stores Opening Soon
The North Face plans to gradually extend its new eco-friendly and consumer-centered retail concept to all of its other locations by 2024. The brand’s entire line of stores, which includes some 160 retail outlets in the U.S. and about 1,000 stores around the globe, will soon be updated using eco-conscious materials and providing similar interactive experiences and services for the consumer. The goal is to design these sustainable stores as beacons to underscore the company’s commitment to durability and sustainability in its product design.
Next in line for an upgrade is the brand’s retail outlet in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, which is set to begin its makeover this fall. The Seattle store will follow shortly thereafter, along with several of the brand’s stores across Europe, all of which will be transformed by early 2020. Lesnard notes the importance of building this type of “brand consistency” at the global level to improve the retail journey for thousands of the brand’s consumers around the world.
These stores will all emphasize the brand’s vision and values, while affirming its commitment to nurturing a global community of people who are passionate about exploring and protecting the world’s wild outdoor locations.
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