The Keys to Canada Goose's Success
By Tricia McKinnon
Canada Goose is a great Canadian success story that is over 60 years in the making. It started manufacturing jackets in 1957 for customers that live and work in the coldest climates in the world. The brand is loved by Canadians and consumers around the world. Its prominence in the cold weather clothing market did not happen by chance. Canada Goose has made many strategic choices along the way that have led to the success it is experiencing today.
One of the keys to Canada Goose’s success is the brand’s authenticity. “Authentic” is a word that is used a lot these days but Canada Goose can credibly say that is has stayed true to its roots. Instead of moving manufacturing overseas it continues to manufacture its cold weather jackets in a country that actually has a cold climate, Canada. Given the high price tag for Canada Goose apparel and the fact that many consumers will only buy a winter coat every few years, manufacturing in Canada provides an additional level of trust with consumers. “Made in Canada” means something to this consumer.
Despite the company’s success the products have not lost their form factor. Canada Goose sells functional products and according to Dani Reiss the CEO of Canada Goose “we have turned down offers to do women’s jackets that include more frivolous details or design features. We really don’t see ourselves as a fashion brand.” Staying true to form has enabled the company to continue to be appreciated for what it does best: making cold weather products that measure up to the test of the harshest winter conditions. Perhaps Canada Goose’s focus on form over fashion seems obvious but there are many examples of companies that have lost their way in their quest for success. The lure of additional customers and sales often leads companies to generate endless brand extensions, over expand into too many lines of business and eventually dilute the brand in a manner that is hard to recover from.
While many companies focus on glitzy marketing campaigns, the best marketing for a product can be the product itself. Before Canada Goose became popular it was the brand of choice for the people that needed to wear the clothing the most. These initial customers were not celebrities like Drake but mountain climbers, Arctic Circle expeditioners, dogsledders and heli-skiers. The product was so effective among this initial base of customers the brand grew primarily on word of mouth. Having a core segment of super fans only intensified the impact of word of mouth as these knowledge consumers spread the word and are were more likely to be taken seriously.
Similar to most luxury brands Canada Goose has a great back story that makes consumers even more invested in the brand. Reiss has said that: "we tell the stories of the people who actually use our products. ... People who live and work in the coldest places on earth, like Antarctica and Northern Canada, our original market." Canada Goose’s strategy also speaks to a brilliant strategy of focusing on a niche market in the beginning instead of mass appeal. This focus is what has enabled it to grow into the brand that it is today.