Arc’teryx aims to make performance more accessible

From the C-Suite newsletter: Why the outdoor apparel company is curating trips and opening its first lifestyle concept store.

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Arc’teryx, the B.C.-born outdoor apparel and gear company with a whimsically challenging brand name, has been leaning into community marketing in a fairly large way, connecting like-minded people through community events and clinics, where for example, outdoor enthusiasts can hone their rock-climbing skills under the supervision of an expert guide, says VP of retail Megan Cheesbrough.

Now, in its latest attempt to connect with consumers in a more experiential way, the company has announced the launch of Arc’teryx Trips, a program that will offer around a dozen guided, small-group trips to remote destinations around the world starting this summer.

The experiences intersect with Arc’teryx’s core product specialties – mountaineering, trail running, rock climbing and hiking – enabling “brand fans” to put Arc’teryx apparel and equipment to the test in the wild, while building a deeper connection with the brand. For US$2,300 to $7,600 per person, Arc’teryx offers to bring adventurous customers to “wild” places they would be less likely to visit, from the mountain peaks in Chamonix, France, to the forests and crystal-clear mountain lakes of the B.C. backcountry.

In an email, Jurgen Watts, director of consumer experience at Arc’teryx, explained that the company hopes to connect with customers “beyond the sales floor,” in part by providing them with “unique experiential opportunities.”

Watts says Arc’teryx’s Trips are brand-led and demand will have to be built over time. To date, it has been promoting them through paid print and digital ads, as well as press trips and other PR efforts.

The Trips program, first unveiled in October, is only one way Arc’teryx is attempting to make its brand more accessible to more customers, whether they intend to climb a mountain or run errands on the weekend, Watts says. While it is fundamentally geared towards outdoor adventurers, a new lifestyle concept store opened in December that attempts to cater to more urban city dwellers.

The more than 2,000-square-foot store – the company’s eleventh standalone retail store in Canada, and its fiftieth branded store globally – is located in the Metrotown Mall in Burnaby, B.C., and is the first to focus exclusively on Arc’teryx’s selection of everyday apparel, as opposed to the more technical and sports-oriented gear found in other locations, Cheesbrough says.

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Cheesbrough, who arrived at Arc’teryx in 2013 (with prior time at Nike and The North Face) to help lead its expansion into direct-to-consumer retail, says having standalone stores has helped the company “control the  experience and really put what we feel is the best foot forward for the brand and the expression of the brand.” But other than offering customers more everyday items – such as pants, jackets and tops – the new store is fairly consistent with its other retail locations, she says. In the end, the brand expects its in-store associates to help point customers in the right direction based on their individual needs, whether they’re looking for gear or apparel.

“It’s hard to say that the concept is actually different. It’s not really,” she says. “It’s [still] the expression of the brand. And having a special place that we can highlight and celebrate those premium lifestyle products that we’ve been making for a really long time, as an outdoor company, as part of our heritage.”

“A lot of our wholesale distribution tends to be in more technical, outdoor-type distribution channels,” she says. “This was an opportunity for us to really celebrate the premium lifestyle apparel products that we’ve been making for a long time in a centralized place in a way that is meaningful for our consumer and in a space that we can totally control the brand.”

Arc’teryx has plans to open lifestyle concept stores in Calgary and Seattle later this year. It currently has more than 3,000 points of distribution globally.