apparel

Columbia Sportswear CMO: Three Steps To A Future-Proof Brand


In its first-ever Investor Day, Columbia Sportswear offered a peek into its three-year growth plan, hinging on an ambitious annual growth rate of between 9% and 11%.

It plans to get there with a refocused marketing strategy, increasing emotional connections with consumers, switching up its go-to-market approach, and enriching omnichannel experiences.

Much of that starts with “focusing on a younger, more diverse group of consumers,” says Pri Shumate, senior vice president and Columbia chief marketing officer, in the webcast presentation. “We have a deep belief in the power of the outdoors. We are doubling down on who we are and how we unlock the outdoors for everyone, connecting on a more emotional level.”

Changing its go-to-market strategy, Coloumbia is focusing on separate activities with direct outreach to anglers, hikers, trail runners and people who love snow. “This more vertical approach will allow us to better build community and connect, and welcome more people into the brand,” Shumate, says.

Specific innovations, however, will continue to be marketed brand-wide. “We’re going to own sun protection, waterproofing and breathables, and traction,” she says.

Shumate, who joined the company six months ago from Airbnb, says the commitment to experience will include expanding its Tough Mother Outdoor Guide, making it a central part of its content offering. “We want to add value and make things simpler. Any time consumers come in contact with us, we have to give them something to believe in,” she says. “The goal is not just to click through and visit once, but often. We are well positioned to be a nonjudgmental trusted friend.”

Columbia, based in Portland, Oregon, says it will also fuel its sales through three core areas: footwear, international expansion and digital sales growth. That includes high hopes for Sorel, its boot brand. It expects those sales to gain between 20% to 22% each year.

It expects to reach annual net sales of between $4.5 billion and $4.7 billion by 2025.

Not everyone is convinced Columbia can pull that off. Jonathan R. Komp, an analyst who follows the company for Baird, calls its growth forecasts ambitious, especially given rising economic pressures.

He continues to rate the company as neutral and was encouraged that it reaffirmed its full-year forecast of between $3.44 billion to $3.5 billion, a growth of between 10% to 12% compared to last year.

He sees plenty of growth potential. “We believe Columbia’s attractive portfolio of purpose-led brands is positioned to capitalize on secular outdoor/active industry tailwinds and rising preference for comfort/casualization,” he writes in his research note following the event. He thinks it can “maintain leading product innovation at broadly appealing price points.”

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