Canada Goose’s CMO talks venturing beyond the parka

Jackie Poriadjian-Asch on why knitwear is the next step for the expanding brand.
Knit

To every thing, there is a season.

For Canada Goose, that’s long been winter. But now, as the 60-year-old brand expands internationally, it’s also expanding its categories, venturing for the first time into knitwear and expanding the seasons where its products can be worn.

The collection of sweaters, zip-ups and hoodies is the brand’s first major foray outside of the parkas and outerwear it’s become famous for.

The new product assortment for men and women is centred on “function first” in a similar way to Canada Goose’s core line of parkas, says Jackie Poriadjian-Asch, the brand’s CMO. Specifically, it uses “thermal mapping” technology, which the brand says helps balance temperature across different parts of the body, an idea taken from its down-filled jackets.

The new line, with names nodding to Canada’s West Coast (like Vernon, Valemount and even Vancouver) has potential to play in the “knitwear as outerwear” space, hitting on the opportunity in the cooler months but before it’s time to break out the heavy jacket, Poriadjian-Asch says.

Over the years, Canada Goose has been hearing from customers who wanted the brand to delve into what’s under the coat. While it has done that with accessories (like hats and mitts) and rainwear, the knitwear marks a more substantial product expansion that addresses this demand.

The immediate goal of that expansion isn’t necessarily to grow its customer base, Poriadjian-Asch says. Rather, the brand is looking at building on its relationship with its current fans.

Its marketing mix speaks to that, with the initial focus on its email database, social media and owned channels. Among the marketing initiatives is a video that speaks to the craftsmanship of the new knitwear (with the added twist of showing the process in reverse to deconstruct just how the products are made).

Craftsmanship and quality have been central to Canada Goose’s brand promise but not necessarily at the forefront of its marketing initiatives, she says. The entrance into a new category provided the opportunity to show that aspect of its products, she says.

“You’re always trying to dream up scenarios in which your products live,” she says of the challenge that fashion brands largely face. For Canada Goose, that hasn’t been the problem, since it’s more product focused. But it did want to show its design intention and detail in the marketing of its new line.

What’s more, Canada Goose wanted to provide some insight into another departure for its brand. The knitwear is not made in Canada – an interesting point given the brand’s outward commitment to products made here.

Through its marketing, the goal is to show that the people in Italy and Romania working on the new line are just as focused on quality and craft as those in Canada making the brand’s signature coats (the wool itself is sourced from Argentina).

Canada Goose, which went public earlier this year, is in the midst of growth, most recently announcing three new retail locations set to open this fall (in Calgary, Boston and Tokyo). Those stores will join previously announced locations set to open this fall in London and Chicago, along with the existing flagships in Toronto and New York, which opened last year.

For its quarter ending June 30, the company posted a loss of $12.1 million, but did increase its revenue $12.5 million to $28.2 million (compared with $15.7 million the year prior). Its direct to consumer revenue increased to $8.3 million from $1.3 million in the same quarter of 2017, driven by its North American e-commerce sites, new retail stores and new e-commerce sites in France and the U.K. (which hadn’t been operating a year prior),