The paper "A Model Marketing Communications Program for The North Face" is a perfect example of a case study on marketing. This paper will present a basic marketing communications model, which is applied to The North Face, a well-known retailer of adventure sports apparel and equipment. The North Face was selected for this exercise because of its unique product mix; the company has traditionally focused on a specific niche – climbing, snow sports, hiking, and expedition enthusiasts – but can expand into the larger sportswear market, where the label is already popular. Company Background The company is named “ for the coldest, most unforgiving side of a mountain” , according to The North Face website (“ Our Story” , 2009), which also notes the irony that the original idea was formed in the noticeably un-mountainous North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.
The company’ s founders were hiking enthusiasts, and so their original focus was on retail hiking and mountaineering equipment. The North Face enhanced its brand reputation throughout the 1970s by sponsoring mountaineering expeditions and expanded into ski wear and equipment during the 1980s. Since then, the company has gradually increased its product range into clothing and footwear as well. The North Face operates several dozen retail stores throughout North America and Europe and has several hundred authorized vendors worldwide.
The company is strongly committed to Internet sales and maintains a number of websites; in 2006, The North Face acquired Virgin. net’ s winter sports channel and has since aimed to achieve a 50-50 balance between the Internet and traditional marketing efforts. (“ The North Face looks to move half its marketing budget online” , 2006) This Internet focus will naturally be a significant component of the proposed marketing communications model. Step One: Identifying a Target Audience The most effective way to identify a target audience is to clearly define the market segments into which the company’ s products fit, or in other words, develop a clear profile of the company’ s existing customers.
Market segments can either be observable or unobservable, and either general or product-specific. Observable general factors such as cultural, demographic, and economic characteristics along with product-specific factors such as purchasing behavior can be measured (Wedel & Kamakura, 2000: 7); from the changing values of these in response to different products and methods of presentation, the unobservable factors of values, lifestyle, personalities, and intentions of the customer base can be inferred, and a typical customer profile developed. The typical North Face customer could be described in these terms: Physically active – enjoy outdoor activities. Fairly young – certainly below retirement age, and likely between the ages of 18 and 45. Middle-class income or higher – have resources to spend on leisure and recreation. Environmentally-conscious. Socially-conscious. More brand- and quality-oriented than price-oriented.