North Face’s New Face (And Store Proposition)

Practical retail insights that promote success? We’re into that. 

That’s why we’re digging into the work of Chris Aubrey, VP of global retail at Dyson. His recent piece outlined how a differentiated store proposition can lead to retail success. And today, we’re going to apply his theories to a brand that’s making some big changes.

The North Face has clearly outlined their new proposition with a new global retail strategy, ushered in by the opening of a new base-camp themed concept store in Soho.

Photo Credit: The North Face/Sasha Turrentine

“The brand will transform its existing locations into basecamps for exploration, aiming to create a stronger connection with consumers and evolve The North Face retail environment to a space that feels more like the brand and less like a store.”

-Mark Parker, Vice President of Direct to Consumer, as reported by Cision.

Parker explained that their new mission lies in creating environments that highlight their heritage, allowing consumers to deeply connect with the brand. 

This fits very neatly into Aubrey’s definition of a Brand Showcase format, illustrated below. The store proposition for this format is to help customers get to know the brand like never before. 

From ‘Winning in retail – how a differentiated value proposition can drive retail success’ By Chris Aubrey

For a Brand Showcase to have a competitive advantage, the store must deliver on various critical success factors. So, let’s look at how this store fares against Aubrey’s crucial success metrics:

  • A museum-esque archive featuring The North Face athlete expeditions and icon products? This could get people talking, and has the potential to resonate with shoppers in a compelling and powerful way.
  • Standing fitting areas near racks? Well, that’s just epic convenience. 
  • A signature ‘Half Dome’ scent designed to transport customers to the outdoors? It communicates the brand first.
  • Associates that are known as “guides,” equipped to offer gear and exploration recommendations tailored to local adventure? With roles such as these, staff can become passionate advocates which is a competitive advantage often enjoyed by a Brand Showcase. 

The verdict is in. It’s a great start to securing a competitive advantage; namely the crafting of outstanding and interactive storytelling for a unique brand experience that can be found nowhere else.

This new store positioning is an evolution from the one used in last year’s Brooklyn ‘retail lab’ store-opening. There, the mission was to explore how a retail space can leverage consumer journeys to elevate the customer experience.

“This is something we can test and learn from in order to build new locations that better serve the customer in the future. We’re looking at it as a retail lab. When we think about how we as a company can adjust to the changing customer, this store is going to help us do just that.”

-Mark Parker, Vice President of Direct to Consumer

The lab was a digitally-empowered store which collected data, in order to understand how to improve the customer experience offering. The gathered information included recorded dwell times within various areas to understand how and where people spent time inside, among other things.

The jury is out on whether the lab findings officially led to The North Face’s renewed retail strategy, but one thing is certain: They invested in getting to know their customers before making exciting changes.

And we can help you get there too.

Using computer vision and AI technology, Vision.gl measures data from outside the store through to the point of sale. Then we serve you ready-to-action insights to help improve the entire in-store experience.

Take the first step to finding your competitive advantage. Visit Vision.gl.

*Aubrey published a number of store formats with propositions as well as their own particular critical success factors. The full slideshow is available here.

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