Unlike the West, China’s outdoor leisure culture, such as camping, hiking, climbing, is almost non-existent. With its megacities crowded and polluted, and people leading extremely hectic lives, getting back to nature may be what the Chinese need.
China’s wealthier consumers are looking to improve their lifestyle with experiences, exploration, and healthy living. Given these current trends, China’s outdoor sporting industry may be ready to take off.
The North Face wants to part of this growth. The company feels a “strong calling in China to get people to see more possibilities than just their current script in life,” said Neville Lin, The North Face’s Asia Pacific marketing director. China sales grew more than 20% in 2013 for the company compared to 2012.
North Face has made a big push into the Chinese market with a fully integrated – TV, print, digital and social media – campaign that had people compete through “a gantlet of physical trials at community festivals and culminated with a rock concert and campout in the hills outside Beijing. The integrated campaign drew 216,000 new members to the brand’s online community,” reports Advertising Age.
Their message is fun and thrilling outdoor living and the big prize is a trip to the United States, which is a wow factor for many Chinese.
North Face hopes its brand mantra resonates with the segment of the Chinese population who are explorers. According Lin, “In the U.S. they did a consumer study and the insight was, there are people who like to explore and there are people who like to watch — couch potatoes. In China our insight is that there are people who like to follow, people who always follow the script in life, and there are people who like to explore.”
Although North Face counterfeits are widely available in China, the company is not terribly concerned. Instead, they are taking the long term view, focusing on growing the outdoor culture in China and bringing their brand story to consumers. Lin believes that “once their [the Chinese] level of understanding of outdoor and our brand increases, their need for counterfeits will decrease … On a hiking trail, you don’t want to feel too heavy wearing a counterfeit product. You don’t want it to get wet, because it’s not really waterproof.”
Similar to other global brands, The North Face will introduce “Asian fit” for its Asian customers, who generally have smaller physiques.
image credit: north face