Posted by on Sep 5, 2013 in News | Comments Off on Stay Warm This Winter

Stay Warm This Winter

Columbia Sportswear is pumping an undisclosed, yet significant, amount of time and money into its recent Omni-Heat launch. Used in its boots, baselayers, outerwear and accessories, the company is rebranding itself as a quality-over-quantity label.

Skiing Business caught up with Dan Hanson, Columbia Sportswear’s global marketing vice president, to find out how the brand plans to resurrect itself.

Columbia is often seen as a brand that produces low-end gear that lacks quality. What are you doing to dispel those stereotypes?
There isn’t one thing that I think is more important than another. We allowed ourselves, for a time, to become a bit of a commodity. But about two or three years ago we started focusing on the end-use, and that’s the biggest thing we can do: build and deliver better performing, better fitting, more stylish products.

We’ll do that by investing time, energy and money in our people and products, and getting our products in the field for exhaustive wear testing.

How much money has Columbia invested in Omni-Heat taking into consideration both R&D and marketing?
We don’t disclose specific dollar figures as it relates to R&D and marketing, but I would characterize the development and support as the largest campaign and launch in the company’s history.

You made some pretty bold statements during a recent launch event – especially aimed at W.L. Gore and Associates. What makes you think you’ll be able to take on a well-known, trusted brand like that?
We wouldn’t have made those statements and said what we said unless we had the facts to back it up – specifically in the testing and results of those tests. Gore is, and has to be acknowledged as, an industry leader, but it also has to be known that they haven’t brought much new to the game for a long time. We feel that we are bringing new things to the game, and we’re confident in that.

If Gore or any other company wants to challenge the assertions we’re making, then we welcome it. We need to be bold to get ourselves engaged in the conversation and the byproduct is better competition and improving the industry.

Regarding competition, how are the Columbia brands working together to develop technology instead of each one operating on its own?
We treat our brands as separate companies and adopt the same philosophy regarding competition as we do with companies outside the portfolio. Of course we’re aware of what our brands are doing, but if Mountain Hardwear brings a new innovation to the industry, they do so under their brand.

We’ve worked hard to establish individual identities and target audiences for our brands. If we hold true to that and embrace competition among our own family, each brand’s strength will come through.

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