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STUDY: Mountain Hardwear extends social media

By Retail Technology | Tuesday July 8 2014

The outdoor apparel brand is expanding its social media reach through its retail partners and sponsored athletes

Outdoor equipment retailer Mountain Hardwear has recently completed a project that allows it to grow the reach of its brand and product messages via its retailers and sponsored athletes.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear Company, Mountain Hardwear distributes its products through specialty outdoor, running and sporting goods retailers in the United States and 51 countries worldwide.

The outdoor apparel, equipment and accessories brand was formed in 1993 by a group of passionate mountaineers and explorers and acquired by Columbia Sportswear Company in 2003.

Using socialondemand technology by purechannelapps, the retailer now reaches audiences of over 555,000 new consumers.

Extending an existing social media strategy

Mountain Hardwear already had an effective content marketing strategy in place that enabled its own social media activities. The brand wanted to extend its social media reach and leverage this low-cost medium. 

The company is operating in a competitive retail environment, selling both directly and indirectly to consumers and using retail partners, athletes and other influencers promote the brand. Mountain Hardwear wanted to ensure a strong, consistent and coherent presence across the board. 

The retailer needed to support its partners’ own social media efforts by allowing them to take advantage of Mountain Hardwear content and to drive more sales through its retail partners in a mutually beneficial outcome.

Yet while to sought to extend that influence to its retail partners and sponsored athletes, it acknowledged that many partners would struggle to consistently create and post rich content to their social media accounts. The company also recognised that there was an opportunity for its sponsored athletes to share the same content.

Social amplification of the brand 

Mountain Hardwear adopted purechannelapps’ socialondemand social media amplification tool. It’s an accessible and secure web-based solution that allows partners to easily select and publish relevant end-user content to their own social media accounts. 

The high-value content is then available for partners in real time and can be published with full auditing and authority processes and controls without having to manually sign into social media accounts.

“We came to purechannelapps as a means of trying to get our retail partners socially enabled,” said Chris Harges, director of global marketing at Mountain Hardwear. “We now have the opportunity to share our brand and product stories on our retail partners’ social networks, while also helping them to be more socially active. This has massive benefits for both us and our retail partners.”

Mountain Hardwear launched a trial of the socialondemand technology in September 2013 and following a successful trial period, took on the platform full time as of December 2013. 

“Whilst we do have dedicated marketing resource, being able to promote other brands other than our own is difficult to do without support,” commented a spokesperson from retail partner Cotswold Outdoor. “ With socialondemand, we are able to receive the content we want from Mountain Hardwear using the filters within the tool, and post it to our own social networks as our own content in minutes.” 

Cost-effective content distribution results

With 54 Mountain Hardwear retail partners joining initially and with 67 individual social media accounts, Mountain Hardwear’s content could be immediately shared with over 370,000 connections (Facebook friends, Twitter followers and LinkedIn contacts).

Mountain Hardwear looked at the reports from 37 posts it created and shared using the platform and found that they had generated 710 shares by retailers, 16,703 likes and retweets and 13,314 clicks by potential end-users. An average of 19 shares by its retail partners, 439 likes and re-tweets, and 350 clicks per post were generated.

In the first 3 months, after a relatively soft launch, Mountain Hardwear had achieved a cost per click (CPC) of just $0.15. Comparing CPC figures, the retailer’s CPC figure is almost 86% less than the $1.11 of the industry search engine marketing (SEM) standard.

The system also delivered a positive impact on buying behaviours, with increases in basket value per visit compared to previous partner social media campaigns. 

The fully automated and seamless platform, with post creation taking less than a minute, supports a fully-customisable targeted process, enabling them to target specific content to the right retail partners. 

Where once Mountain Hardwear content was seen just by their immediate followers, now their brand is being viewed and endorsed by thousands of influencers across the globe. 

“Seeing a definable return on investment is obviously key and returns for us include partner engagement, monitoring positive consumer behaviour metrics, as well as the content distribution,” said Harges.

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