On Thursday, October 29, 2015, Columbia Sportswear Co. reported record sales for its fourth consecutive quarter. The company boasted a 14 percent increase in quarterly sales to $767.6 million, overreaching Wall Street’s expectation of $738.7 million. The profit numbers settled in at $91.1 million for the quarter, equating to $1.28 per share.
This also exceeded Wall Street’s expectation, which was an estimated $1.09 in per-share earnings. CEO Tim Boyle said of the continued growth, “Our record third quarter and year-to-date results illustrate the increasing earnings power of our brand portfolio. We believe we are only beginning to unlock the long-term potential of our portfolio of brands.”
The Return of Gert
The positive growth trend began in February of 2014 when Columbia reported $2.1 billion in annual sales, a 25 percent increase from the 2013 fiscal year and a 45% increase in annual net income to $137.2 million.
Columbia wasn’t satisfied.
In early October of 2015, Columbia Sportswear announced the largest campaign in its 77-year history. The $50 million global marketing move is bringing back Gert Boyle, the brand’s chairman and 91-year-old matriarch, as well as its “Tested Tough” tagline for the first time in ten years. Boyle became famous in the 1990s when she was used as the embodiment for the “One Tough Mother” advertising campaign. She was shown shoving her son, current CEO Tim Boyle, through a car wash or up snowy mountains to test Columbia products.
While Columbia has done its part on keeping up with technical innovation in the industry, the company has faced many challenges in reaching the younger generation. The goal of the “Tested Tough” campaign is to portray the rich history behind the Columbia brand while connecting with the millenials in the United States and beyond. Competing with Under Armour, a company that has excelled in marketing to the 18-to-34-year-old age group, has forced Columbia to be more aggressive.
Tradition meets New Age Marketing
While “Tested Tough” aims to focus more on the company’s story than individual products, it is also adding fun twists to grab the attention of younger consumers. In one of the new spots, 91-year-old Gert Boyle is pictured standing on a snowy mountain alongside a cougar with the tag line, “Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, where the cougars really are cougars.” Stuart Redsun (@sturedsun), Chief Marketing Officer at Columbia, said of the campaign, “We wanted to bring that fun and excitement back and really show a little bit of the personality of the brand,” said Redsun of “Tested Tough.”
Stuart Redsun joined the company last year after working at Under Armour and Sony and is bringing a new outlook necessary to continue Columbia’s expansion in the market. Redsun says his company’s past moves to advertise through the lens of innovation and technology made it difficult for consumers to learn what the brand stands for. “‘Tested Tough’ isn’t just an ad campaign or tag line, it’s the promise of our 77-year-old brand,” added Redsun.
It’s Perfect – Now Make it Better
As Columbia revels in its double-digit sales increase for its Sorel and prAna brands, as well as a 25 percent sales increase in North America, the words of Gert Boyle ring in Columbia executives’ ears. The “mother” of the company is known for her famous line, “It’s perfect – now make it better.” And the brand has taken those words to heart. In order to beat out competitors like Under Armour, and VF Corp’s The North Face (whose revenues rose 11 percent to $2.3 billion in 2014), Columbia Sportswear Co. can never be satisfied. Columbia has more than rebounded from its 2012 dip in revenues (shown in the data table), and is looking to push its limits in the coming years. The “Tested Tough” campaign, which includes broadcast, print, out-of-home, digital, retail and social elements, is a powerful move by Columbia that should allow them to continue to climb the mountain of success.
This blog post was written by Samford University student Alex Matthews. You can learn more about Alex Matthews at http://www.linkedin.com/in/alexmatthews16.
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Feitelberg, R. (2015, October 7). Columbia Sportswear Launching $50 Million ‘Tested Tough’ Initiative With Gert Boyle. Retrieved October 30, 2015, from http://wwd.com/media-news/fashion-memopad/columbia-sportswear-tested-tough-initiative-gert-boyle-10257720/