Canada Goose “Goes Retail” with Latest Marketing Strategy

It’s becoming something of a global phenomenon. Increasingly, more and more brands are deciding to spread their wings and “go retail”, either by opening online stores or, as is the case with Canada Goose, actual physical locations on the high street.

The world’s leading maker of Arctic luxury apparel opened its first two retail stores in the fall of 2016 – the first at Toronto’s Yorkdale mall, and a second in New York City. The move into bricks-and-mortar follows the successful launch of the company’s ecommerce site just twelve months previously – and it’s something that we’re seeing more and more of.

Nike, Apple, Amazon, Under Armour, Lindt & Sprungli – the list goes on and on. What’s perhaps most interesting to note, however, is the growing number of pure online players that are moving into the bricks-and-mortar space. Birchbox, Bonobos, and Warby Parker all come readily to mind when we think about such online-to-offline expansions.

The question, then, is what is the incentive for such wide-scale adoptions of the “going retail” strategy?

Why Go Retail?

For one thing, providing customers with a physical location in which they are able to shop, play, learn and develop an emotional connection with the brand is a pretty darn good reason in itself. Indeed, such opportunities are almost impossible to supply when dealing through online channels alone.

But, as the Elbetoft Group’s latest report – ‘Brands Going Retail’ – reveals, “going retail” offers brands many other significant benefits. When focussing on an in-store space, selling only a single brand of merchandise (their own), brands are finding that they have much more control over their marketing, their image, and the experiences of their shoppers.

In addition, brands with their own retail space find that they are able to sell a broader range of goods to customers and increase their margins. Data collection, new product testing, and greater independence from third-party retailers are also revealed as notable advantages.

A Marketing Investment

Canada Goose’s expansion into retail with just two stores signifies that the move isn’t simply about opening up a couple of new channels that will enable a few more sales. As Retail consultant Jim Danahy, CEO of CustomerLAB, observes, flagship stores are often used by manufacturers "in order to show the full array of products since many retailers don't carry the full array.”

He adds that “Time will tell whether [Canada Goose] are using bricks and mortar retail as a significant sales channel. When you only open a couple … that's more marketing than it is sales."

Indeed it is. As President and CEO Dani Reiss explains, the new stores are not meant to detract from the core model of the Canada Goose business.

“We’re a global brand. […] When we have these gathering places for Canada Goose fans, it builds and adds to the global halo of the brand. Wholesale is a very important part of our business, and it will continue to be important. But we are able to create the perfect experience and the perfect reflection of the Canada Goose brand.”

[Source: Canada Goose (@canadagoose)]

The new stores serve to deliver an experiential environment featuring the company’s heritage and culture, a full assortment of all seasonal collections, and world-class service. They feature Arctic imagery as well as photographs and stories of the “Goose People” – the adventurers who act as spokespeople for the brand, lending authenticity to the overall brand message. Reiss says that he sees the stores as a marketing investment.

“We’re not looking to go to 150 stores tomorrow. We’re not becoming a retailer, specifically,” he said, though adding that the company does hope to open more in the future. “It will be important to open stores in places where there are large concentrations of Canada Goose fans … there are lots of potential markets for that.”

Spreading Those Retail Wings

Canada Goose is targeting three more stores in 2018, with the long-term goal being a network of around 15 to 20 stores. “We’re going to open stores in the best and biggest and most vibrant cities in the world,” Reiss said in the Financial Post, citing Tokyo and Paris as examples. “As we build the direct-to-consumers channel, as we lead with e-commerce, it’s also important to have some stores”.

Indeed, as Canada goose seeks to expand more internationally, the company has been spending a lot of extra dollars on marketing initiatives. This includes a video marketing campaign, which featured a short film by Hollywood director Paul Haggis. The video attracted about 1.5 million views on YouTube alone.

But, the company says that when factoring in the campaign’s website, paid placement, and Facebook promotions, the video was viewed more than 30 million times and increased web search traffic for Canada Goose by 500%. View it below.

Flightpath to the Future

“Going retail” for Canada Goose doesn’t mean that it is completely changing its business model. Rather, the new stores are just part of a growing marketing initiative as the company seeks to reach new customers and expand to a global market.

In the end, Canada Goose has realised that it’s not just wholesale, not just digital, and not just retail that marks out a flightpath to the future, but a fusion of all three. The last word goes to Reiss.

“There’s a lot of talk about e-commerce and ‘omni-channel’ [sales] and people are starting to recognize that bricks-and-mortar stores are the foundation of that. The future is not just online or just bricks and mortar. It’s a combination.”

Make sure to also download the eTail Canada agenda to check out all of the great activities, speakers, & sessions planned for this year.

About John Waldron: John Waldron is a technology and business writer for markITwrite digital content agency, based in Cornwall, UK. He writes regularly across all aspects of marketing and tech, including SEO, social media, FinTech, IoT, apps and software development.

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