April 14, 2017
Anyone that hasn’t seen the video of United’s passenger being forcibly removed from a plane this week must be living on an island. We decided to weigh in and shared this with mainstream media that was writing on this story (who didn’t cover it?). We were happy to be included in USA Today’s story as well as The Boston Globe. Enjoy the read.
What United Airlines must do after PR nightmare to win back customers
John Bacon , USA TODAY
United must make amends for its gaffe on a plane and immediately start the process of rebuilding trust among fliers and the general public, media specialists said Wednesday.
Where did it all go wrong for CEO Oscar Munoz, who last month was named PRWeek‘s Communicator of the Year? Chris Ann Goddard, president of CGPR public relations, says some of the airline’s efforts at quelling the uproar since video went viral of a passenger being dragged screaming from a flight have done more harm than good.
Goddard says United needed to immediately shift into crisis mode. A crisis plan, she said, should include a heartfelt apology, release of a specific plan for addressing the mistakes, clear communication with front-line employees and a statement sent to frequent fliers and loyal customers.
“Three apologies in two days? Really?” Goddard says. “Put the heartfelt apology out there, issue a thoughtful statement, admit a company’s wrongdoing, be consistent on social media. … And, oh by the way, don’t blame anyone else, especially the victim.”
Eric Schiffer, CEO of Reputation Management Consultants, said United will be hurt in the short term. But the situation still can be managed, he said.
“They have the money to do the ads, and they can get by through just the power of the scale they have,” Schiffer says. “But they are definitely going to lose customers. And they should.”
United’s brand crisis began Sunday in Chicago. Passengers had already boarded United Express Flight 3411, bound for Louisville, when the airline attempted to make room for a crew needed to fly out of Louisville the next day. When offers of almost $1,000 failed to clear the necessary four seats, passengers were selected at random and told they had to exit the aircraft.
Boom. First mistake, says Paul English, travel industry veteran and Kayak.com co-founder.
“Never force a customer to change behavior, always offer incentives,” English says. “United Airlines could, and should, have offered bounties for volunteers and kept increasing the bounty. There was no reason they could not have pursued a more consumer-friendly approach.”
Three of the randomly selected passengers yielded; a fourth refused. Chicago aviation authorities were called, and video of the ensuing imbroglio caught social media lightning. Hundreds of millions of viewers around the world witnessed the bloody, violent confrontation.
That led to a somewhat awkward effort at damage control. The first, brief United statement noted that “one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate.” Munoz then issued a statement that drew ridicule after he apologized for “having to re-accommodate these customers.”
In a follow-letter to employees, Munoz said he “emphatically” stood behind all employees, adding “I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”
Kind to stand with your workers in a time of crisis, but a little tone deaf to the general public, the experts say. Supporting your employees and defending “dumb policies” are not the same, says Karen Kessler, a crisis communications expert and chair of the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership.
“If the reward for stepping off the plane was $5,000 or 10 free tickets, you likely could have flown your needed crew to Louisville in an empty flight,” Kessler says. “The reward formula should not restrict good judgement.”
The action that United took on the plane, in concert with law enforcement, was bad enough, Goddard says. She said the “epic fail” of the PR team added to the woes facing United and Munoz. On Tuesday, Munoz seemed to find his public relations legs.
“I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight, and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard,” Munoz said in a statement. “No one should ever be mistreated this way.”
Munoz followed that up with an appearance Wednesday on Good Morning America during which he said he felt “shame” when watching videos of the confrontation. He said “common sense” should have overruled proper procedures, and that it was his job to ensure common sense is king in the future.
United needs to act quickly and gain momentum in its efforts to restore trust, says Bernd Schmitt, a professor of marketing at Columbia Business School who has conducted research on consumer behavior.
“United needs to revive the damaged brand with a credible customer-focused campaign,” he said. “And they must act fast to rebuild their image, which has been tarnished by a slow, inappropriate and purely company-focused PR reaction.”
Goddard says a thoughtful communications plan will be United’s best strategy.
“This is going to be a long journey back for United to restore customer confidence,” she said. “But it will be a long time before the consensus for United will be ‘wheels up’ — more likely it will be ‘buckle up.'”
It turns out airlines are actually doing better — and getting bumped is rare
By Christopher Muther GLOBE STAFF APRIL 13, 2017
The forced removal of a United Airlines passenger earlier this week prompted consumer outrage over the man’s rough treatment, and the practice of bumping ticketed passengers from overbooked flights. But passengers take solace: getting involuntarily bumped from a flight is rare
It’s so unusual that you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime than bumped on a given flight. In 2016, the 12 major US airlines reported an “involuntary denied boarding” rate of .62 per 10,000 passengers — roughly one passenger out of every 20,000.
And while the United episode drew ire and calls for reform from consumer groups and politicians, several recent studies found that airlines performed better in 2016 than they have in decades.
Boston’s Logan International Airport served a record 36 million passengers in 2016. Going by the national average, that means about 2,200 passengers of the 36 million were involuntarily bumped from flights last year.
“It’s a relatively small number,” said Dean Headley, an associate professor of marketing research at Wichita State University who has coauthored the Airline Quality Rating since 1991.
On the same day that United was making headlines for the dramatic mistreatment of the passenger who was being dragged off a flight to make room for crew members, Headley and coauthor Brent Bowen of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona released their annual report. Millions more saw the viral United video than the airline quality study, but the professors’ long-running scientific ratings system gives a more clear-headed look at the industry.
In their report, which is based on numbers provided by the US Department of Transportation, Headley and Bowen found that overall airline quality improved in 2016 over 2015 in the categories of ontime performance, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled bags, and customer complaints.
In fact, the professors found 2016 had the lowest number of involuntarily bumped passengers since they began the annual study in 1991.
“What happened with United was an anomaly in many ways,” Headley said.
United didn’t score high on the report, but it also wasn’t at the bottom. The top three domestic carriers for 2016 were Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin America. At the bottom were American Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. United ranked eighth out of the 12 airlines surveyed and showed improvement over its 2015 score.
“The perception of United is that it has never been known as particularly customer friendly,” Headley said.
The Airline Quality Report is consistent with findings from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a government agency that reported 2016 flight cancellation, mishandled baggage, and bumping rates were the lowest in decades.
According to the website AirHelp.com , which helps consumers seek compensation from denied boardings, you’re more likely to get bumped from a flight on Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, or American Airlines than United. Hawaiian Airlines, Delta, and Virgin America had the fewest number of denied boardings.
But with United in the headlines, AirHelp saw the number of claims against the beleaguered airline increase by 96 percent this week, according to Cecilia Minges, a spokeswoman for the company.
Last week the personal finance website WalletHub released its own airline ratings report, which ranked United number 4 of the top 12 US carriers. The findings were based not only on baggage, departures, and complaints, but also animal deaths, in-flight comfort, and cost.
The WalletHub survey put Alaska Airlines, Delta, and SkyWest Airlines at the top of its list, with perennial poor performers Spirit and Frontier Airlines at the bottom of the pack.
Even though United fared better than its competitors in these studies, the airline has a long road ahead if it is to repair its reputation, which took a nose-dive after Dr. David Dao was violently pulled off a flight headed to Louisville, Ky., on Sunday.
On Thursday, Dao filed an emergency “bill of discovery” against the carrier in Illinois State Court demanding that evidence documenting Sunday’s “re-accommodation” aboard the plane be “preserved and protected.”
The 69-year-old doctor was one of four people selected to lose their seats on the plane — just before it was scheduled to depart from O’Hare International Airport — to make room for United crew members the airline said were needed in Louisville the next day. He refused repeatedly, saying he had patients to see in the morning and needed to get home. The flight crew called security, and officers violently removed him from his seat, dragging him down the aisle while other passengers cried out in horror.
Dao suffered a ‘‘significant’’ concussion and broken nose, and he lost two front teeth, one of his attorneys said Thursday. He has been discharged from a hospital but he will require reconstructive surgery, the attorney said.
United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the overbooking in a public statement Monday, but in an internal letter seen by NBC News, he accused the doctor of being “disruptive and belligerent.” Munoz has since appeared in television interviews and apologized further, recanting his initial response to the incident. “No one should ever be mistreated this way,’’ Munoz said.
A United spokeswoman told the Associated Press on Wednesday that all passengers aboard that flight will receive compensation equal to the cost of their plane tickets. The passengers can take their compensation in cash, travel credits, or miles.
But with the airline now serving as a punch line for late-night comedians and starring in Internet memes, the recent rankings and apologies might have little effect on perception.
“This is one of the most significant PR blunders in years,” said Newton-based public relations specialist David Ball, president of Ball Consulting Group. “It may take years for them to come back from this. First they denied passengers wearing leggings, and now this, which is far more significant. It’s a long way from their old motto of ‘Fly the Friendly Skies.’ They need to bring in experts and train employees and change the culture.”
Chris Ann Goddard, president of the Marblehead-based PR firm CGPR, said in an e-mail, “There were so many errors I stopped counting.”
“It will be a long time before the consensus for United will be wheels up,” she said. “More likely it will be buckle up.”
Feb. 29, 2016 – New Partners for CGPR: Goodyear Licensed Products, Mountain Khakis and Samuel Hubbard Footwear
We are happy to announce that we are adding three new brands to the CGPR family, Goodyear Licensed Products (footwear, apparel and accessories), Mountain Khakis and Samuel Hubbard footwear.
CGPR will be supporting Goodyear Licensed products including footwear, apparel, hats and eyewear. Goodyear Licensed Products, a division of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, will introduce the Goodyear Performance Collection in the U.S., its first line of men’s casual footwear that blends fashion, comfort and racing inspired detailing. Having seen strong success in Europe, this line, priced from $60 to $80, will be available this March at specialty and department stores nationwide.The licensed products business of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company helps promote the respected brand’s footwear, apparel and accessories throughout the United States, and embodies the brand’s American roots synonymous with winning in NASCAR and NHRA drag racing. Goodyear Licensed Products is a division of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, an iconic brand built on over 115 years of dedication to uncompromising standards and performance. For further information visit, www.goodyearfootwearusa.com
Rugged. Authentic. Reliable. Timeless. Mountain Khakis came about from the notion of living with a “HELL, YEAH” mindset towards life. Playful. Spirited. Irreverent. Mischievous. Passionate. And Soulful. Mountain Khakis isn’t just a brand, it’s a lifestyle that challenges us to live life untucked. For more information on Mountain Khakis click here: http://bit.ly/1eimPuk
Bruce Katz, founder of Rockport, has introduced Samuel Hubbard footwear for men, the next generation of comfort shoes blending elegance, bold colors and comfort that transitions from work to play. The line includes The Un-Sneaker collection, The Limited Edition collection, in bold colors and Go To Work, that easily transitions from work to a night on the town. For more information, visit www.samuelhubbard.com
CGPR Opens Office In Costa Mesa, California Feb. 2016
East Coast meets West Coast as 23-Year-Old Consumer Active Lifestyle PR Firm goes Bi-Coastal
COSTA MESA, CALIF. (February 10, 2016) – CGPR, an established consumer lifestyle public relations firm, celebrates the opening of a second office in Costa Mesa, California, adding to its original Marblehead, Massachusetts location beginning February, 2016. Opening the Costa Mesa office is timed with the announcement of new business partnerships for CGPR.
“The opening of our west coast office brings added services and a bi-coastal presence,” said Chris Ann Goddard, founder and president. “We welcome the opportunity to represent Goodyear Licensed Products, Pimacott and Samuel Hubbard footwear. We are confident our collaborations will provide sound strategic public relations initiatives that will help drive these brands forward.”
The licensed products business of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company helps promote the respected brand’s footwear, apparel and accessories throughout the United States, and embodies the brand’s American roots synonymous with winning in NASCAR and NHRA drag racing. Goodyear Licensed Products is a division of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, an iconic brand built on over 115 years of dedication to uncompromising standards and performance.
Pimacott, headquartered in New York City, is the only pima cotton that is “verified pima” from crop to consumer through a revolutionary DNA tracking system that will be available this fall.
Samuel Hubbard footwear, established by footwear icon and co-founder of Rockport Shoe Company, Bruce Katz, is the new line of men’s footwear that combines comfort, performance, and style. It is comprised of three collections: The Un-Sneaker, a lifestyle line that easily transitions from work to play; Go To Work, classic silhouettes for the office; and the Limited Edition, crafted in brightly colored leathers from Milan.
CGPR will share offices with IMW Agency, an award-winning integrated marketing firm with over 20 years of experience based in Costa Mesa, Calif. The strategic alliance enables CGPR to offer additional creative, digital and branding services, while expanding IMW’s PR offerings. CGPR’s new office is centrally located at 3190 Airport Loop Drive, Building K, in Costa Mesa, Calif., a short drive from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, 714-714-0267.
“We look at this as a platform for generating new business and having visibility in a region of the country that is home to companies that are in our sweet spot,” said Goddard. “Having the ability to offer this additional suite of marketing services enhances our service options and provides important solutions under one roof.”
Goddard will divide time between the two locations, with Nicole Kieser, senior vice president, expanding her role to lead the existing team in Marblehead.
About CGPR: Established in 1993, CGPR’s specializes in apparel, fashion, fitness, hospitality, outdoor, sports, travel and winter sports, among others. CGPR’s experience includes adidas Outdoor, Canada Goose, Intrawest, Moncler, Pimacott, Samuel Hubbard, Vail Resorts Management company, and Wilson Tennis, among others. In addition, CGPR has a proven track record in component brands including PrimaLoft, Microban, and W.L. Gore & Associates.
Right before Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, CGPR was asked to weigh in on industry trends. Chris Goddard, CGPR founder, offered up thoughts on the future.
Active Lifestyle Business News
2016 B.O.S.S. Report Outlook
SportsOneSource Media Posted: 12/31/2015
2016 is shaping up as a potential tipping point in the relationship between brands and independent specialty retailers that has long been deemed critical to sustaining long-term growth in the bicycle, outdoor and snow sports industry.
The theme came through loud and clear in comments contributed by dozens of industry leaders for The B.O.S.S. Report’s annual year-ahead coverage. Those comments, which are excerpted here and can be read in full online, surface several factors worth watching as the new year unfolds, including:
>> Slow growth to accelerate consolidation. With the global economy slowing and U.S. interest rates rising, manufacturers will look at growth via acquisition more favorably.
>> A focus on urbanites. While they will continue to target core enthusiasts, brands will shift a higher percentage of their marketing dollars toward reaching urban consumers with less technical and more fashion-oriented and seasonally versatile gear.
>> Revisiting online strategies. The sudden drop in brick-and-mortar traffic and sales over the holidays and steady increase in off-price selling by vendors’ own online stores may cause a few brands to rethink their wholesale distribution strategy. Expect a few stronger brands to simultaneously accelerate investment in their online stores even as they tighten distribution through third-party channels in a bid to restore full-price selling online.
>> Doubling down on brick-and-mortar. Look for independent retailers, including those with once thriving online businesses, to refocus on their brick-and-mortar business. They will seek ways to partner more closely with brands that maintain full-price models online and/or can offer significant marketing dollars for expanded local programming. Expect independents to add more “growler nights” and other in-store social events to their calendars in a bid to drive traffic and enrich their brand experience. Some will expand or launch gear rental fleets and adventure-travel businesses in search of new revenue streams that are less vulnerable to online competition. New retailers will increasingly offer on-site recreation or locate near recreational facilities.
>> Declining store fronts. Store closings and bankruptcies are poised to accelerate in 2016 for the same reasons as mergers and acquisitions: rapid aging of owners, declining margins, slower growth and rising interest rates.
Read on for a direct outlook for 2016 from some the industry’s top brands, retailers and playmakers:
Editor’s Note: Abridged versions of the following comments appeared in the Jan. 4, 2016 edition of The B.O.S.S. Report. Want to share your industry outlook for the new year? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘2016 Outlook’ and we’ll add it to this story.
Ben Rivera, President, Leatherman Tools
2015 was a good year for us at Leatherman. 2016 will be a good year as well. I believe the U.S. economy will remain healthy. Companies that source products from foreign countries will probably benefit from low fuel prices and favorable exchange rates. As a U.S. company that exports about 30 percent of our production, we unfortunately don’t receive the same benefit. Exchange rates for our exports are not favorable for Leatherman, and will likely cost us a few sales in key markets. The positive outlook is meaningful — people are out and having fun and spending some money doing that. Even in foreign countries where the economies are struggling a bit, the mood seems positive. I sense that there is an emerging trend toward doing things in the real world — people want to talk to real people and do real things. Sports, outdoor recreation, or creating things from scratch are a nice break from the smartphone and computer. Leatherman multi-tools help people be prepared and accomplish things in their real lives, so we look forward to being a strong part of that trend.
Bob Hall, CEO, NuDown
At NuDown, we predict a steady year of slow growth for our economy. Yet any emerging brand, like NuDown, need not concern itself so much with macro-economic outlook. There are always small slices of market share available for new technologies, new concepts. My greatest concern for NuDown is the health of the specialty retailer, on whom emerging brands need to rely to see what’s new presented to curious and willing consumers… As all retailers feel the heat of e-commerce, I fear specialists are retrenching toward the major brands, which is the exact opposite of what they should do. It is the major brands that are already vertically integrated, with flagship stores, outlet stores, robust e-commerce activity, etc. Omni-channel is just techno-speak for vertical integration, and cutting down the specialty retailer in the sales mix. Consumers walk into specialty stores seeking what’s new and what’s cool this year. It’s hard work, and not without risk, but it’s the emerging brands that feed the appetite of the early adopter consumers, on whom the specialty retailer depends. At NuDown, we’re doubling down on specialty retailers. The line is nearly doubled. We’ve increased our footprint at Outdoor Retailer by 100 percent, and at SIA by 50 percent to engage the brick-and-mortar specialty retailer. Specialty wins. NuDown wins.
Bruce Katz, CEO and Founder, Samuel Hubbard Shoes
The active, outdoor life-style has become more and more mainstream and we feel our timing is perfect in introducing all-leather, walking shoes into the marketplace. Samuel Hubbard shoes are built on cushioned Vibram soles and, with full leather linings and triple density insoles, we are delivering a supremely comfortable product for consumers wanting more than a fabric and suede trail shoe. People who have a closet full of sneakers and mud-colored trail shoes are looking for something with more fashion that delivers the walking performance they have previously enjoyed only in their various forms of athletic footwear. The entire retail channel is changing and consumers are buying in stores as well as from catalogs and websites. When they buy products that they cannot try-on before purchasing it becomes more important than ever to deliver on the promises you make in your marketing. With many lines trying to bring out more and more new products every season, it is easily possible to overwhelm the consumer with too many choices that are barely different one from the other. Consumers today are talking to each other and through the process of reviews they know which products will work best for them. We take every comment to heart and work to respond to each person on an individual basis. There is a certain staying power in the outdoor category which is unmatched by any other industry. I believe that the outdoor retailer’s orientation to function with fresh fashion is a winning formula. Consumers turn to the outdoors for an escape, to feel fit or just to bond with friends. Young customers are more likely to have owned a down jacket before they owned a blazer and I don’t see that changing in the future.
Chad Altbaier, VP Sales, Downlite
The current warm weather in the US is having a big impact on the down business — both in the home/bedding category as well as down-filled outerwear. Additionally, down costing remains relatively soft, and most expect this trend to continue into 2016 — due primarily to relatively weak global demand. Performance enhancing technologies, down traceability certifications, and other macro corporate sustainability initiatives will also remain a key part of our key 2016 strategies. We continue to focus on providing the best quality product with the highest level of integrity and intense focus on thoughtful innovation and long-term customer partnerships.
|Chris Goddard, President, CGPR
While the unusually warm weather is wreaking havoc with apparel sales and ski resorts and the Presidential election is turning into its own Saturday Night Live, the passion for outdoor activities remains robust. Going outdoors provides solace for the soul and respite for the body — especially from headlines about terrorist attacks, police confrontations or politicians gone rogue (and to think this year, we don’t even have Sarah Palin). Consumers have never had greater choices with gear, apparel or accessories. Outdoor gear is more than keeping up with tech savvy engineering and apparel is now infused with next generation components from Microban, PrimaLoft, and W.L. Gore & Associates…The definition of outdoor is much more inclusive, resulting in more consumers experiencing the outdoors and enabling new product categories to enter our world. There are more weekend warriors entering the outdoors from difference places — especially cities. Indoor climbing is propelling the next generation of young outdoor consumers — they may start in the climbing gym, but they go outside as a next step. Lastly, social media is a growing hefty bullhorn for communicating the who, what, and where when it comes to providing information about how to become involved in the outdoors…What concerns me? The uncertain future policies of our next President and the preservation of green space. The lack of diversity in outdoor participation. The growing prevalence of video making the decision not to go outside easier and one that provides a baby sitter for parents too busy to introduce their kids to the outdoors…What gives me optimism? Our commitment to never giving up, e.g. the re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The progress we are making in the supply chain process. The fact that we have the best and brightest in this industry capable of amazing design. That no one can take away the benefits of outdoors from any one. As long as we protect where we play, we will have the fresh air, peace and quiet and humbling scenery of the outdoors.
Eric Greene, GM, VP Brand & Innovation, Kelty
Looking forward to 2016, it’s no surprise that Millennials are creating a big shift. In the past, outdoor consumers were primarily focused on one activity and they’d stick with that activity for a while. Now, we see younger consumers constantly trying and participating in a wide variety of activities outside: yes, still sometimes camping, hiking and backpacking. But less about the extreme conquest and more about the variety of great experiences across a variety of activities: trial running, music festivals, biking, paddle sports, afternoons in the neighborhood park – just a constant variety of fun, social adventures. This group can’t always afford specialized gear, so they need gear that is versatile enough to keep up with them…and look cool too. Any brand they buy is an extension of their personality, so it’s critical that they feel an authentic connection with that brand’s personality. They see right through traditional marketing tactics, so as we look at 2016 and beyond, we are changing up our marketing mix to reach these consumers in authentic and unique ways. With heritage brands being reinvented and new brands joining the outdoor scene every day, the ones who will last are the ones with an authentic story to tell. Similarly, we see the rise of the bad ass chick. They demand and deserve real gear that looks the part but delivers real, legit benefits for a growing group that more than holds their own alongside their male counterparts. Beyond paying lip service, companies and retailers that can deliver on this promise will reap the rewards.
Fred Butts, CEO, Owner & Managing Partner, One Source Apparel
The two largest influences on sourcing in 2016 and beyond are China and the TPP. We all know China’s labor cost are rising, but to put it into perspective, I recently received an application for a chief representative position in my Shanghai office, and salary expectation was in excess of $60,000. This was disproportionate to the majority of all the other applicants, but it is telling that the Chinese people see these as attainable wages. I am not saying the Chinese people should not realize these wages, but simply saying that the expectation is heading in the direction of more western like wages. However, there is much more going on than increased labor and as a result the pool of people wanting to work in garment factories is getting smaller throughout the country. Granted it’s still the largest apparel labor force in the world, but it is contracting, not expanding. Labor shortages in factories surrounding the larger metropolitan areas have already started to become a major problem, and will become a more significant problem as garment factories cannot pay enough to keep people interested in working in factories. Many garment factories are leaving the city and rebuilding further to the west and north of China in the countryside. Some factories are realizing lower labor rates, but many are still seeing higher labor costs even in these remote areas, but they are finding a more stable labor force. So what used to be a move to reduce cost is not becoming a move to keep the work force in tact at same or similar cost. Still, China is a huge portion of the garment sourcing landscape, and companies that have boots on the ground and can ensure transparency of their supply chain regardless of its location there is still a strong benefit to being in China as portion of your supply chain. TPP will happen without a doubt. The speed of its signing, and moving into an “in-force” position will be directly proportionate to the health of the political relationship between China and USA and its allies. I think best case it’s in force in 2017 and worst case in 2018. While this is a ways off, this still creates a sense of urgency when you are one of the major players like Nike, Walmart, H&H, and Uniqlo etc. The pure volume of these companies in China required them to start engaging in alternate plans the moment they sensed the dynamics in China and the impeding TPP. The two items above will create ongoing dynamics and change. Getting Vietnam up to speed on textiles will happen at an ever-increasing pace, and those companies that put the effort into infrastructure and partnerships now will benefit going forward. One Source Apparel has had an office in Vietnam for seven years and is in the process of increasing its investment and infrastructure there in preparation to support the added wave of demand that is just starting to come. We have established long term, owner to owner relationships, in both the textile and garment businesses in Vietnam. We also have made sure to stay in the forefront of additional countries like Malaysia, Cambodia, Central Java Indonesia, and early stage review of Myanmar. These countries and more will all gain in the coming years. However the necessity to move to a more spread out sourcing model, as compared to being “all in China” will create more need for support from companies like One Source that can be easily mobile and drive development and quality in a variety of countries with trust and transparency.
Greg Thomsen, Managing Director, Adidas Outdoor U.S.
2016 will be a great year for the outdoor sports industry. Outdoor-inspired fashion will continue to grow as specialty outdoor brands address the urban market with products that blend street fashion with functional performance. The general public’s interest in rock climbing and the dramatic growth of specialized climbing gyms across the country has created millions of new young outdoor athletes ready to venture outdoors, most for the first time, all with a need for specialist apparel, footwear and equipment. Adidas Outdoor, with our focus on the younger, next-generation outdoor enthusiast will certainly grow dramatically in 2016. I’m less concerned with the changing weather patterns than others are, but expect the timing of sales to adapt to the new evolving seasonal climate.
Jay Townley, Co-founder & Senior Partner, Gluskin Townley Group LLC
The trend of brands selling direct to the consumer will expand as the retailing of bicycles in the U.S. continues to experience an historic transition driven by the new digital and tech world, evolving demographics and the combined impact on consumers’ path to purchasing a bicycle. This will ramp-up the financial pressure in the form of slimmer gross margins of profit and tighter credit, and will push more specialty retailers of bicycles to become service and/or fulfillment centers. Other retailers of bicycles will continue to expand their omni-channel capabilities to become more like outdoor specialty retailers (REI, L.L. Bean, etc.) in a bid to capture more consumers on the path to purchasing a bicycle with “seamless” shopping experiences. More specialty retailers including outdoor and bike shops will incorporate café’s and beer and coffee bars and others full service food in 2016 — all of which are intended to make these specialty retailers “sticky” and a third-place for consumers. With outdoor specialty, bike shops and full-line sporting goods chains looking for ways to get a leg up on pure-plays and brands that are selling consumer direct, it would seem that the bundles that we have talked about for years have come into their own, along with offering a variety of bike tours and adventure rides as experiential gifts not just for the holiday season, but year-round. More than one-third of 18-24 year olds (36 percent) and 25-34 year olds (35 percent) planned to give a gift of experience, and half say they would like to receive one this holiday season. Retailers will embrace this latest disruption in retail — the experience — in order to keep up with ever-growing consumer expectations on the path to purchasing a bicycle.
Kenji Haroutunian, Principal, Kenji Consults & VP, Board Of Directors, The Access Fund
2016 will be a year of continued tumult in the greater outdoor business as the struggle continues for greater consumer relevancy, but that said, only the methods and tools will continue to shift and emerge, while the value proposition of sustained time in nature and adventure activities on our public lands continues to rise in importance for Americans. Increased transparency will make doing good pay off for businesses, while those focusing on short-term quarterlies will be at-risk. Young people today have a strong handle on what brands stand for, even as they move away from old school advertising and ’spray and pray’. Access will be a key trend for urbanites as well as those of us who venture deeper into lands and waters protected as a sustainable resource into the future. Continued innovation in tools for access (transportation, land use, experiential education, service projects, etc.) will play an increasing role in growing a healthy industry future.
Wilbur Rice, Equipe Sport, Rawsonville, VT and Chairman of the Board, National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association
NSSRA’s role in the face of this change is to keep retailers apprised of the changes that are affecting them and to encourage retailers to change to meet those challenges. Retailers are being affected by things that never were, which require solutions that haven’t been tried. Picking new partners, developing new categories and shutting down poor performing categories, brands or department are all options. When it comes time to place orders prudent planning would lead us to reward the suppliers who work with us as partners not as competitors. While winter 15/16 may turn out to be one of the toughest years on record, if it leads retailers to make difficult choices and go in a new direction, it could be the best thing that ever happened.
Mike Joyce, CEO, PrimaLoft
What we’re most excited about is the opportunity we have to drive sustainability in our industry, specifically as it relates to manufacturing processes and using recycled content. In the past, manufacturing products with recycled content often meant sacrificing performance while increasing price. Now, innovative companies like PrimaLoft are finding ways to make products containing PCR content that reach the high levels of performance expected by consumers at price points that don’t break the bank. We believe we’ve found that elusive balance between recycled content, price and performance and will be showcasing our latest eco-driven innovation in 2016…Another trend we’re seeing in the outdoor industry is the demand for versatility when it comes to outerwear. Consumers want garments that they can wear hiking or biking up the mountain in the morning, then down to the coffee shop or bar later that day. We’re committed to producing innovative comfort solutions, like our PrimaLoft Gold and Silver Insulation Active products, that allow our brand partners to develop these versatile garments that allow consumers to stay in the moment, no matter the situation. As far as concerns, the warm winter we’re experiencing in large parts of North America and Europe, as well as the economic malaise in Europe, are hurting sell through for many brands in our industry. In order to combat these issues, brands are looking to differentiate by turning to technology and innovation. This is where PrimaLoft excels.
Mike McQueeney, President, Headsweats
In 2016, we will continue to see a focus on performance to almost a fanatical level. We now have Fitbit, Apple, Garmin and many other innovations that are counting our steps, heart rate and tracking our progress. Wearable technology is making everyone from the mall walker to the Olympic athlete a stronger and smarter participant.
Nathan Pund, Managing Director, Consumer & Retail Group, Lazard Middle Market
I believe that there is the possibility for 2016 to be a strong year for mergers and acquisitions in the outdoor and active lifestyle. There are several factors supporting this trend for the upcoming year: First, there is approximately $500 billion dollars of private equity capital that needs to be invested. Second, strategic companies are seeking revenue growth in this slow-growth economy by gaining new products and access to new customers and markets. This can often be achieved faster and cheaper by acquisition than by developing on their own. Third, as a result of the fast pace of M&A in this sector, the competitive landscape is shifting quickly, requiring company owners and managers to respond more quickly than in the past. They may be faced with a key competitor that is now owned by a larger company with greater resources or a historical aggregator like Jarden itself being acquired. I believe this pace of change, in conjunction with the strong M&A fundamentals and the recent rise in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, could serve as an even greater impetus for M&A in the active lifestyle sector in 2016.
Nick Sargent, Incoming President, SIA
Overall, the industry will finish the season healthy, with a strong emphasis being on the word ‘overall.’ So far this has been a very tough season for retailers and resorts in the East and that is a worry. Over the past three decades, weather explains almost all of the fluctuations in sales and participation in our industry. While there tends to be season-over-season balance nationwide, the local lack-of-snow impact felt by retailers and resorts in the East is a significant concern this season. Keeping in mind that about 65 percent of all snow sports retail sales happen before January, and the conditions in the East were not driving sales during the critical holiday buying season, we’re all hoping for a quick and significant amount of snowfall to make up for lost time and sales. On the other hand, we’re highly encouraged by the epic season that the western half of the US is enjoying. California, the Pacific Northwest, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have had excellent conditions so far and sales are up significantly in those regions. And there was pent up demand, especially in the Pacific where drought has been the story for the past few seasons. California has more skiers and snowboarders in residence than any other state and they are getting the season they’ve been dreaming of for four years. Plenty of the starving East Coast core will head west to ski and ride whether the dry conditions in their region continue or not. And Mother Nature may just be late in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic because of the super strong El Niño conditions. The last time we had a moderate El Niño in 2009/2010, the entire East Coast was slammed with snow later in the season. (Remember Snowmaggedon?) So, there is still hope for the late season. It’s important to keep in mind that the snow sports market and participant base has been through seasons with difficult conditions before and has stayed remarkably stable over the years. We have managed more than 50 million skier/snowboarder visits to resorts and kept our participant base over 12 million for the past 30 years.
Pablo Perrella, President, Microban
At Microban, we believe that 2016 will be another strong year, and we are looking forward to being an innovative part of the industry. The growing diversity of activities available at all levels of play, as well as the merging of fitness with everyday life is continuing to accelerate the need for increased performance in clothing and gear. It is more important than ever for clothing to function for multiple purposes. As the intensity of uses increases, there is a focus on new technologies, such as advanced odor control to increase freshness, reduce the need to wash frequently (especially on multi-day activities) and extend the longevity of the clothing. With the development of new performance materials at Microban, the need to address odor becomes more important, which is the reason Microban is committed to the development of technologies that eliminates in-use odor and long-term odor (a.k.a. permastink) in synthetic and natural materials used in footwear, performance wear, activewear and equipment.
Patrick O’Malley, SVP Global Product, Saucony
Innovation is winning the game. Consumers and retailers are looking for innovation stories that enhance their experience on the roads, trails and tracks. We also see that the lines continue to be blurred between performance and style. Athleisure continues to be a strong driver in both apparel and footwear. At Saucony, we know that being a runner means more than just hitting the road. Our Life on the Run Collection gives runners the footwear and apparel to transition from one activity to the next, feeling inspired in whatever they do.
Ross Saldarini, President, Mountain Khakis
New lifestyle boutique apparel/gear stores will continue to pop up, replacing some of the older line retailers that are leaving the industry and filling some of the demand for options the decline in mall traffic has created. Beau’s Outfitters is one example. For traditional retailers that means they need to embrace visual merchandising and assortment concepts that marry to particular themes, lifestyle themes, that they didn’t need to do in the past. Just laying out cool gear may not be enough. Put it on a mannequin in action, assemble it neatly on a folding table with a cool shirt and belt, propping, storytelling, etc. The point is, retail is amazingly complex and the demand for people who are great visual merchants is becoming more acute. Our specialty outdoor retailers are very well suited to this change and brands are working with them to build-out shop-in-shops to suit individual store merchandising themes. The cost to acquire customers is not going down precipitously as some people would have you believe. Ask peers in the digital-only arena. There are so many more options for consumers today, so many channels that customers get targeted in, so much more noise today than ever before. The cost of building a website and finding someone to make something somewhere in the world have both come down. The ability to build a brand, to find a customer and deliver a message that sticks to them has gone up. I don’t believe anyone who rails against wholesale and claim to be purists and go direct to consumer only – good luck, that is very tough sledding. Together, retailers and brands can succeed, but they need each other like never before. Mountain Khakis, for example, created a Posse Program last year that is essentially a dealer loyalty program that keeps the MK brand and MK dealer connected and gives us opportunities to coordinate on telling a brand story to a consumer. I think we’ll see a slow down in the fast fashion craze. Low price, cool merchandise will remain in high demand. However, the Outdoor Industry generally sells a very high value proposition to its customers vs. fast & cheap models. Chasing fast fashion is going to lead a lot of major retailers into a quagmire — take American Eagle. They’ve lost their customer base — where did they go? To H&M! Let’s become H&M … That works at a board level maybe but at a consumer level it’s a really high-risk mission. But, I often remind myself none of this is easy… so we will see. I think the Outdoor Industry is well positioned to take share from some of these giant brands that are driving the wrong direction. I think we’ll see more struggle in 2016. Maybe The North Face & Columbia are the big winners, but it should benefit the industry.
Todd Grant, Executive Director NBDA & Board Member, People for Bikes
We see a number of impacts for 2016. Primarily, our dealer members are very concerned about online distribution and pricing. Lost sales and/or margin pressures are the anticipated impacts here. In addition, there is ongoing margin pressure at the wholesale to retail pricing that puts many of our retailers at serious risk. If these starting margins do not come up some retailers will be forced to close their doors while others will have to look at where they have the ability to make budget cuts.
–Charlie Lunan, Tom Ryan and David Clucas
CGPR NAMES NICOLE KIESER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
Kieser Brings Over 17 years of News and PR Agency Management Expertise
MARBLEHEAD, MASS. (November 20, 2015) – CGPR (www.cgprpublicrelations.com), an established consumer lifestyle public relations firm, today named Nicole Kieser as senior vice president. Kieser, who brings over 17 years of newsroom and public relations agency management experience, will oversee client relationships, planning and execution of programs, agency growth initiatives and managing the CGPR team. Her appointment is effective November 23, 2015.
Kieser has deep roots in the Boston news community, most recently having worked as planning manager at Fox 25 News, planning coverage of major news events and supervising the digital and segment producer teams. Prior to Fox 25 News, she worked as the assignment manager at New England Cable News. In addition, Kieser served as vice president for news operations/director of television relations at Regan Communications Group. Previously, Kieser was press secretary for the 2006 Mihos Campaign for Governor. She has been a member of the Board of Overseers for Salem State University since 2012.
“Nicole’s rich talent in agency management, journalism and her roots in the Boston community are exactly what we need for our future growth,” said Chris Goddard, founder and president of CGPR. “The instinct she has built over years covering the most tragic events to sports to uplifting stories will be of great benefit to our clients. As we chart our next phase, CGPR 2.0, we look forward to having Nicole play a leading role and welcome her to the CGPR family.”
“I consider it an honor to join the CGPR team,” said Kieser. “I look forward to working with an amazing selection of iconic companies and international brands; I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of CGPR’s future successes.”
Established in 1993, CGPR’s specializes in apparel, fashion, fitness, hospitality, outdoor, sports, travel and winter sports, among others. CGPR’s experience includes adidas Outdoor, Canada Goose, Intrawest, Moncler, Pimacott, Vail Resorts Management company, and Wilson Tennis, among others. In addition, CGPR has a proven track record in component brands including PrimaLoft, Microban, and W.L. Gore & Associates.