As I read the story of how CEO Dani Reiss transformed his grandfather's small family business into the $5B Canada Goose luxury brand we know today, I was reminded of three important lessons our growth strategy work has taught us:
- Growth starts with the customer. The company's jackets were warm, as proven by the cult following of those who frequently wore them in the coldest places on earth (think Everest, Antarctica). But that was only one customer segment, one customer need. Reiss recognized that there might be a full demand landscape Canada Goose had yet to access.
- Not all customers are created equal. Reiss recognized that he could use the "authenticity" of his cult following to reach a subset of elite customers willing to pay a premium to "walk around in a garment that Arctic Explorers wore." Reiss' shift to this new, untapped customer base was key to his success.
- Growth has to be led from the top down. It can't be just a marketing effort or a sales initiative. Reiss completely overhauled the brand and its customer base, but he also revolutionized the way they sold, marketed and distributed their product. And it worked.
The bottom line, every company has untapped opportunities for growth - even those in years of decline or challenging categories. Canada Goose's revenues more than tripled from 2014 to 2018, despite a challenging retail environment.
One group he found success with was airlines. Snow Goose down coats were already well known among pilots and ground crews working on the frigid tarmacs of Canadian airports. Their devotion to his coats gave Reiss an idea. It was the late 1990s and there was a rapid rise of brands like Dr. Martens and Juicy Couture, otherwise-ordinary items that had developed cult followings willing to pay premium prices. In 2000, when Reiss turned 27, he pitched his dad the idea of going upmarket—selling to well-heeled urban dwellers who were already paying extra for the North Face and Patagonia coats. He thought they might pay even more to walk around in the garment that Arctic explorers wore.