The youth needs to step out and taste adventure- Harkirat Singh, MD, Woodland
Founded in Quebec, Canada, over twenty five years ago, Woodland has grown to be recognized internationally as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of extreme weather outdoor gear and outerwear. From connecting with its customers through experiences that provide challenges and build a lifestyle around the brand – one that is outdoorsy and adventurous – Woodland has stuck to its brand ideology. EE in conversation with Mr. Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland, on how the brand has stuck to its grounds and kept true to its base, while also evolving with time.
“Our products, they all go in the same theme and ideology which is all around adventure. The way the products are made and sold is all eco friendly. People are looking for avenues where they can go out and do something exciting. All our products are made for these kinds of sports and adventures but keeping in mind that they don’t harm the environment”, says Mr. Harkirat Singh.
With their target audience being the youth, we wonder how Woodland keeps them engaged. “Our target audience is the youth and they are the ones who are actually going out for these adventure sports. We promote outdoor activities. We are promoting special sports that are not available in India, and also bringing in the equipments that are required for these sports. All our products – shoes, garments, etc are all made to provide protection to the customer when they go out for sports”, says Mr. Singh. Through advancements in technology, Woodland has made shoes that prevent frost-bites by generating heat in the sole, while also making a shoe that helps the wearer get detected even 30 feet below the ground through a special chip installed inside each one of them.
While being technologically advanced, Woodland also makes sure that its customers develop a taste for adventure and promote the same in the youth. A healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle is what Woodland wants you to lead, asking you to do the different. “Every month we have something or the other lined up. We try to talk to youth; we go to places where they are, college fests, Sunburn, rock concerts, wherever we can find them together and talk to them. We create zones where they can take first-hand experiences to adventure activities. Creating a climbing wall, bungee jumping, etc. we have a lot of sports that can be done anywhere. We also make small activities that can be really fun and put them all together as not everywhere you can make a big structure. Building a healthy lifestyle and also giving the youth something else to do rather than just visit a pub or go out clubbing is our motive. There is more to life than that”, says Mr. Singh.
Woodland has been associated with Sunburn for about 3-4 years now, creating zones with climbing walls, bungee jumping, pro-planet wheel, treadmill in a circular form, etc. “We have an internal team that keeps thinking on innovative ideas although our main advertising agency is Lowes Lintas. This was the third or fourth time we partnered with Sunburn. We gave the responsibility of the whole set up to them, as they put up the whole show”, says Mr. Singh.
What does Woodland have in store for its customers in the future? “Future experiential activities involve sending people to the Everest. We have an ambassador every month who has achieved something in the field of adventure. Apart from this we go to the general youth, tying up with MTV, Discovery, Sunburn, who do bigger events and be part of those events. On our own we go to colleges and schools. Live music festivals, associating with artistes, merge the music with live outdoor activities, do something which is more exciting like zip lining, etc.”, says Mr. Singh.
“Our most successful campaign was the Slack line. It was very new in the country. It is doing very well, internationally. It doesn’t use a lot of space and we have experts who teach them how to do it”, says Mr. Singh on the most successful campaign so far. “The levels differ, we can’t say all events are successful. You can’t really assess a thing unless you do it. If we work with better quality people who deliver better, chances are that the results will be good. We have been with MTV for 7-8 years, and Unicef for about 5-6 years. But that doesn’t stop us from trying new avenues - the world surfing championship in Orissa, and we will do it again. 2 years back I personally went to this event in Kerela where they had this car rally. They made a mud track where even I drove one of these cars, it was very risky and not safe at all. Putting yourself in danger can backfire. It should not harm anyone”, says Mr. Singh.
As it has been noticed, Woodland does not engage itself in fashion events. Their products are all fashion forward, but indulging in fashion is not something woodland is known to do. “Becoming a part of the fashion fraternity and events dilutes our equity. That’s not what we stand for. We are outdoorsy and adventurous, and want to stick to that”, says Mr. Singh.
How important is experiential to a brand like Woodland? “Our customer is youth – to connect with the youth who don’t read a newspaper is to be a part of their lifestyle. We want to know what they do and where they want to hang around and be part of that. You have to be a part of the customer’s life. You have to make him comfortable with your brand. The more they get involved with the brand, the more they talk about it. People have become very strong with digital and social media”, says Mr. Singh. “We don’t have a particular budget for experiential as such, but with time it has been noticed that the events and experience zones are getting more share in the marketing spend we have”, says Mr. Singh.
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