As we approach snow season, retailers and brands alike are ramping up for what everyone hopes will be a successful winter. With the onslaught of choices that are rapidly filling retailers’ shelves worldwide, brands are trying more and more to make their offerings stand out, and what better way to do that than by rallying shop staff around their brands?
That’s exactly what Forum has been able to do with “We Live Forum,” (WLF) a program that invites shop employees to become brand ambassadors for The Program’s brands—Forum, Special Blend, and Foursquare—in return for receiving exclusive gear, explains Forum Brand Manager Damien Etchaubard, who has been heading up the program for the past three years.
“It’s an important initiative for us and connects us directly to what is happening on the shop floor all winter long,” he says. “The idea came about from just thinking of ways to connect with shops and their employees as they are the ones hustling day in and day out, and making a difference in snowboarding. By connecting with them and bringing them into the brand they help spread the good word about Forum and what we are about.”
The WLF program has grown rapidly since its first year, and the crew has expanded it even further this season by creating a set of mission objectives that ask employees to complete several tasks in return for riding with the team, helping out at trade shows, and hitting The Streets at Seven Springs, to name a few.
We caught up with Etchaubard to find out more about WLF, how the brand measures the program’s success, and what type of feedback, information, and general stoke the brand hopes to get back from its investment in WLF.
Who created the initiatives behind WLF, and how were those decided upon?
The program is driven as a collaborative effort between the sales and the marketing crews. We’re a small group here at Forum and decisions are made pretty quickly. If it fits the brand, stokes out the shop employee and makes sense, we make it happen.
Which retail accounts are currently your most successful and influential? How many retailers and/or shop employees total will you offer this program to?
We count on our rep force to hand select the We Live Forum members from their top accounts with Forum. In the US and Canada, we have about 80 members and growing. Last year we introduced the program in Europe with 60 members and are expanding it to Japan in the near future as well.
You mentioned that the shop kids will fill out monthly surveys about the shop, brand, and the industry as a whole – what type of feedback are you hoping to gather? Will this help shape next season’s collection, and how so?
We make sure our We Live Forum members are the first to test out new technologies and products we create. We want them to provide honest feedback and then we share it with our product managers and this helps shape next year’s collection. We also tap into their knowledge of market trends, what sells, what doesn’t, and what the kids we are targeting are asking for. This is valuable feedback as the WLF members live it on the front line all winter and know what’s up. This feedback helps us focus our efforts to really speak to the kids and riders we want to reach.
What type of information are you hoping to gain about individual retailers and sales?
We want to know what is happening on the sales floor, what works in certain regions versus others and what the kids are asking for.
What other sorts of “Mission Objectives” will you be issuing for the WLF crew throughout the season?
The Mission Objectives this year vary from stickering up a local resort to installing the best Forum POP display in the shop, hosting a #Forum video premiere and hanging out and riding with the local rep. They are created to make the WLF member feel part of the brand and in return push our product on the sales floor. They also get pretty insane incentives for completing the Mission Objectives. For each of the three questionnaires, we send them a package of Limited WLF swag and on top of that, the most responsive WLF members can win trips to High Cascade to ride The Streets with Pat Moore, or find themselves at Seven Springs riding The Streets with the full Forum team, to hanging out at SIA with the in-house crew. We have set-up some pretty rad incentives for our WLF members.
How do you measure ROI for a program like this, and what minimal results are you looking for to make this program a success?
From a marketing perspective, its pretty simple, if the WLF members are stoked and providing good feedback that’s a win. From a sales perspective, we look at the money invested into the program and leverage it against actual sales. Since we launched this program three years ago, it has grown and the correlation between sales and growth in WLF members keeps us investing.