By Aimee Chanthadavong

Adventure wear retailer Snowgum is investing $5 million in giving its brand a new identity and its chain stores a refurbishment.

Working with retail marketing specialist, IdeaWorks, Snowgum will commence its program with the opening of its new store in Westfield Belconnen in ACT. The refurbishment roll-out will occur across its 36 chain stores over the next three years.

Snowgum managing director Ross Elliot told RetailBiz that the decision for the changes came about after realising that consumer demand was moving away from the brand’s original identity of being a scout store and towards wanting a functional lifestyle apparel store.

“We made the tough decision [in 2004] and exited a large chunk of our camping business and focussed on travel and outside lifestyle. Over the past six years we have been refining our product range, our marketing and our positioning to focus on this new target customer,” he said

“We have also opened a number of shopping centre stores, now about half of our income comes through high foot traffic shopping centre locations. It is in these spaces we are seeing a whole new customer – a customer that wouldn't be seen in a traditional 'outdoor' store.

“In a shopping centre environment our previous attempts to appear 'lifestyle' rather than 'camping' achieved its goal too well in some ways because people couldn’t really differentiate us from other lifestyle clothing brands. Our performance story was lost. All of a sudden we are a ubiquitous clothing brand with no 'fashion' brand cache. Why would anyone visit us? They story wasn't clear.

“This was the key reason for the change. We needed to better communicate what our brand was about and we needed to stand out from the crowd – in particular Kathmandu who is our strongest competitor.”

The company invested 12 months into category research and strategy planning before making the final decision on the rebranding, which will see the Snowgum tree underpin the brand’s new identity and store experience.

“The idea to tell our story using the tree as the platform was not a new one, but the way IdeaWorks presented the story was genius in my view. Very rarely do you see a marketing concept that immediately resonates as strongly as Ideaworks 'layers' concept did for me. The layers relate to the rings of a tree [which are the layers of experience], also to isobars on a weather map and contour lines on a topographical map,” Elliot said.

“The very strong tree imagery, new layered logo, and clear presentation of the new Belconnen store definitely communicate our brand story unlike any other presentation wee tried before.”

The new brand will be rolled out across all aspects of the brand from signage to swingtags. Its stores will be built using timber, glass, 100 per cent LED technology for its lighting and marmoleum, which is a natural material, for its floors. 

“Whilst the existing stores have timber featured externally, they are essentially a pretty basic apparel style fitout. The current presentation doesn't clearly articulate what our brand is all about and navigation around the store is difficult,” Elliot said.

He also noted that there a growing shift towards the digital space, which will be another element of the company’s ongoing strategy.

“For us, the sales generated through online are amazing. In two short years, web sales have escalated to our top 10 stores. Less than 20 per cent of those sales are clearance, mostly they are full price sales.”