You scan your receipt, smile smugly, and pat your eco-friendly recycled paper bag bulging with the contents of your purchase. As you leave the store, you are consumed by thoughts of scaling mountain peaks with a tribe of experienced outdoorsman. And you imagine the selfies you will send home. You imagine yourself weathered, rugged, and outfitted in the same wind-resistant shell, Gore-Tex boots, and ascent pack that propelled the likes of Conrad Anker to the summit of Mount Everest.
This retail experience is like none you’ve ever experienced. It’s like the store climbed into your head, extracted your most captivating hopes and dreams, and then created an easy button to turn your dreams into reality.
While this might sound like a story from the future, this is the consumer experience happening right before our eyes. And the key to it all is big data.
According to Steve Lesnard, the global sports branding guru and newly appointed Global VP of Marketing at The North Face, the ultimate key to branding success is rooted in a consumer-centric approach. Steve Lesnard is passionate about finding new and innovative ways to discover consumers’ deepest desires and using that data to design products and services that nimbly respond to the consumer’s needs. And by leveraging new technology to extract more and better data about consumers, today’s companies are in a position to refine their consumer-centric branding approach in a way that will radically transform the marketing landscape, says Lesnard.
Steve Lesnard cites a recent report released by McKinsey & Company, which concludes that data-driven companies are 23 times more likely to acquire new customers and 6 times more likely to retain them. But according to a recent study by Hubspot, a staggering 42 percent of companies don’t collect feedback from or survey their customers. This means that the window of opportunity for data savvy companies to leap ahead of the competition in the marketing space has never been greater.
For companies looking to leverage technology to transform their next branding campaign, there are some important points to consider:
Deliver a better consumer journey through personalization at scale.
Steve Lesnard stresses the truth of this principle; companies must move away from a sales mindset and instead focus on providing truly beneficial services and products to their target consumer. But to do this, you need to cut to the core of what your consumer is really about and what is important to them.
“If you can understand their goals or motivations, you can create a much more personal and deeper relationship and opportunity to offer meaningful products and services to your consumer,” he states. Steve Lesnard refers to this process as “personalization at scale.” In his own words, “the more you know them (the customer), the more you can serve them and the more you drive this concept of personalization at scale, offering your consumer exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.”
According to Steve Lesnard, today’s technology allows companies to use data to understand their consumers in a way they never have before. When a consumer interacts with your brand, they give you precious information about their needs and interests. Brands can harvest this data to better understand their target consumer’s goals and motivations. By constantly listening to and learning from consumer feedback, companies can design products and services that create a more personalized and authentic relationship with their consumers.
“This is the ultimate goal,” Steve Lesnard states, “offering the right product or service, for the right person, at the right time, at a scale. We have never been in a better position to leverage consumer data to reach that goal.”
For example, in his new position as Global Vice President of Marketing for The North Face, Steve Lesnard points out that data gleaned from social media and other channels reflects consumers’ increasing desire to explore and get outdoors. So instead of creating new products or adding features to existing ones, the company’s new branding campaign focuses on creating an innovative consumer experience that responds to the information consumers are asking for. With the assistance of in-store expedition “guides” and a simulated “basecamp,” consumers are empowered and enabled to embark on new outdoor adventures.
Other features of The North Face’s new branding experience include instruction on how to use equipment – such as pitching a tent – recommendations for gear choice based on destination and activity, and the opportunity to interact with a global community of fellow adventurers and expedition organizers. Through these various channels, The North Face has leveraged information gleaned from its target consumer to design an innovative approach to serving its customers with an all-in-one stop for aspiring expeditioners.
Companies can use big data to rapidly evolve and innovate in response to changing consumer demands.
Branding success requires more than knowing your customers and designing products that meet or exceed their expectations. Just as a mountaineer must continually adjust their course based on environmental conditions, so too must companies constantly adjust to the rapidly changing demands of their customers.
With over 20 years of experience building successful marketing campaigns for one of the largest athletic brands in the world, Steve Lesnard has observed time and again that a brand’s success is driven directly by a company’s ability to read and react to the evolving demands of its consumer base. That means it’s more important than ever to find new ways of obtaining and interpreting consumer feedback to intimately understand your target consumer and what they are looking for.
According to Steve Lesnard, brands that are equipped with better information about the aspirations and desires of their target consumers will be able to quickly adjust to constantly evolving market conditions and provide a more satisfying consumer experience. By leveraging big data and responding nimbly, retailers can get the most out of their branding campaigns.
Build relationships, one expedition at a time.
For Steve Lesnard, successful brand marketing is really all about one thing: forming and growing a positive relationship with your target consumer. And the way to do this is by actively listening to consumers so you can provide products and services that enrich their lives and increasingly meet their expectations so they will be driven back to your brand again and again.
This personalization at scale is the key ingredient in building long-term and far-reaching success in marketing and branding. In Steve Lesnard’s own words, “the power of combining clear brand and product strategy with the power of data to better identify what consumers really want opens a new world of personalization at scale that will change the way brands interact with consumers. Living at the intersection of such a revolution will create infinite new opportunities for consumer-centric brands to personally engage with consumers.”
In launching his most recent branding campaign with the North Face, the implementation of Lesnard’s marketing philosophy holds the promise of endearing a new generation of mountaineers to the brand, whose iconic phrase “Never. Stop. Exploring.” rings true in its redesigned consumer experience. Through the new campaign, The North Face has invited consumers to start their own exploratory journeys with a promise of helping consumers conquer not just proverbial mountains, but real ones.
And after helping you scale that mountain and adorn your selfies, The North Face knows that it will not only inspire loyalty to the brand but also act as an invitation to others to begin their own relationships with the company. With every picture, post, and video, consumers will learn that The North Face is not just about creating new products and selling them; it is a brand committed to helping consumers achieve their dreams.
Brands like The North Face, who are nimble and innovative in response to change, are finding ways to deliver products and services in a way that is changing the consumer landscape. How will you use big data to conquer the next peak in your marketing journey?
Steve Lesnard Heads The North Face’s Product Release – FUTURELIGHT
The North Face hired Steve Lesnard at a pivotal time for the brand to lead the launch of this game changing innovation and accelerate its overall global brand presence.
New jackets, pants, and bibs have been released utilizing the industry’s newest innovative nanospinning technology – FUTURELIGHT. This ingenious fabric is featured in The North Face’s Summit Series™, Steep Series™ and Flight Series™ collections. Outdoor enthusiasts can rejoice and enjoy the newest breathable and waterproof protection available on the market.
FUTURELIGHT was created by popular demands from The North Face global athlete team. Without sacrificing their performance levels, the team desired a more breathable and waterproof material for their outerwear. Three years of extensive product development lead to the industry’s future of outerwear.
FUTURELIGHT™ jackets, pants, and bibs are soft, light, flexible, and – most importantly – comfortable. All products were rigorously tested by third party experts and world-renowned athletes, and FUTURELIGHT exceeded all expectations. FUTURELIGHT products allow athletes of all levels to perform at their best outdoors while being protected from the elements. Checkout FUTURELIGHT by going to The North Face website.
About Steve Lesnard
Lesnard is the newly appointed Global VP of Marketing at The North Face. In his previous tenure with one of the largest athletic brands in the world, Steve Lesnard served as global vice president and general manager of the company’s running division, launching industry changing innovations and driving a $5.3 billion business.
While there, he led two Olympic marketing campaigns, led the company’s running business to its current position as a global leader in the sporting industry, and ran the European marketing organization. Steve also lead the development of the women’s marketing business across the world, turning a niche industry into a multi billion dollar division.
As a sports fanatic and outdoor enthusiast since childhood, Lesnard has also provided consulting services on various global marketing campaigns for several other brands in the athletics sector. He releases regular podcasts in which he shares his experience and insights with consumer-centric global marketing and branding campaigns. Steve Lesnard’s passion for creating global branding campaigns in the athletic sector is fueled by his personal zest for sports and the outdoors. From martial arts to running, mountain biking, kite surfing, and snowboarding, Lesnard relishes any activity that allows him to appreciate the “strength, power, and beauty” of Mother Nature. Steve Lesnard currently resides in Denver with his wife and three children.