Woodland, the Canada-headquartered outdoor wear brand from Aero Group, has launched a campaign to promote its new range of 'survival gear' churned out by what it calls its 'innovation lab'. Titled 'Live to tell the Tale', a self-explanatory name, the campaign showcases items designed to help adventurers survive the harsh outdoors. They include warm-grip shoes with temperature control, ResQ Jacket with RECCO tracker technology (can guide rescuers to one's location in the event of an accident) and solar bag (can convert sunlight into electricity). Some of these products, like the jacket, are priced as high as Rs. 12,000.
The brand's TV strategy has always been focused on channels like AXN, MTV, Discovery and National Geographic - channels with programming that allows for easy product integration besides merely airing an ad film during commercial breaks. Thus, Woodland doesn't advertise on GECs much. The present campaign will be aired across English movie channels and youth-centric channels including MTV, Channel V, Star World, Star Movies, VH 1, National Geographic, Fox Traveler, Discovery and Sony Pix, among others.
Additionally, Woodland sees merit in associating with youth-oriented events like college events and rock/music festivals such as Sunburn and Nokia India Fest. The brand uses these platforms to engage the youth by giving them a first-hand feel of adventure; this is done with the help of bouldering walls, climbing walls, slack lines, bungee jumping and other such simulated adventure settings.
Shot in Falls Creek, the 'ski capital' of Australia, the campaign will be aired across India, Hong Kong, China, West Asia, some parts of Europe and the CIS countries. Little wonder then, the actors that feature in the campaign are white.
Harkirat Singh, managing director, Woodland, tells afaqs!, the TG comprises outdoor adventurers who indulge in high-adrenaline activities that require what he calls "technical products" like his, that are designed keeping in mind extreme outdoor conditions.
"Normally, we have seen that most of our customers are between 17-25 years of age. They include bikers, girls and guys who like outdoor wear and, in general, have an 'outdoor lifestyle'," Singh says, adding in explanation, "If you are a keen adventurer, you will wear those kinds of jackets, cargoes or shoes in day to day life as well."
Which brings us to the question - Is the current campaign, in a way, a surrogate campaign for Woodland's non-outdoor or casual wear? Well, Singh explains that since the current campaign introduces certain specific technologies, it will primarily be of interest to those who're most likely to face the kind of high risk situations shown in the ad film (getting caught under an avalanche, for example). But he adds, "Since it is a dramatic campaign, it appeals to a larger audience. So, even a person who doesn't trek or ski can feel a sense of 'protection' and associate that with the brand, on seeing the ad."
And the degree of technology embedded in the products varies; some just have a waterproofing membrane or double layering while others have more advanced technology at play. But the campaign, that primarily features the latter, will certainly have a rub-off effect on the brand's casual wear portfolio as well.
Speaking of non-outdoor wear products, interestingly, though Woodland is not in direct competition with sports brands like Nike, Reebok and Puma, it shares a large chunk of its TG with these players. "We're not a sports brand," says Singh, "We don't make football, cricket, basketball or tennis shoes nor do we associate with sports as such. But the TG of sports brands overlaps with ours - and the same youngster can wear a sports shoe brand or a pair of Woodland shoes to college."
From a geographical perspective, we learn that though Tier 1 and 2 cities give Woodland the largest chunk of its revenue, there is an increasing demand for the brand in smaller towns as well. "Customers from small towns do look for such products but tend to fetch them through e-commerce. But our market in smaller towns is growing," he says. In fact, the brand has made a conscious effort to push its product in tier 2 and 3 towns; in the recent past Woodland has opened stores in Kangra, Firozpur, Dharamshala and Pathankot, among other such places.
"To make a shop profitable you have to have good numbers. So we have to do a lot of research before we go and open a store somewhere. Often, we do so through tie-ups with existing retailers or try and connect with customers in these towns through e-commerce or Facebook," Singh admits realistically.
Given today's 'digital generation' that suffers from various pseudo-disorders, from the 'couch potato syndrome' to sub-threshold versions of the notorious carpal tunnel syndrome (discomfort in the wrist/fingers due to too much typing/texting!) how much of a challenge is it for a brand like Woodland to get through to, well, indoor enthusiasts? Answers Singh, "Yes, the category we operate in is small in India; the market is yet to grow. But it is growing and there is a lot of scope for us."
He makes a case for the category by revealing the findings of his consumer research: Schools and colleges have, of late, taken to organising small adventure camps for their students. Moreover, when people plan vacations nowadays, they prefer locations where they can try out adventure sports, rather than stick to the erstwhile sightseeing-shopping mix. Lot of groups - like cycling groups and weekend trek groups - are being formed by people and the demand for outdoor products beyond apparel and shoes has increased, for instance, sleeping bags. "We are working towards incorporating these in our product line and positioning ourselves as a one-stop shop for all adventure gear," says Singh.