Key Takeaways for Outdoor Brands: Cotopaxi X HOKA

Key Takeaways for Outdoor Brands: Cotopaxi X HOKA

Outdoor gear brand Cotopaxi and footwear company HOKA have joined forces to create an exciting collaboration. The two brands share more in common than you might think; they're committed to pushing boundaries and embracing sustainability, and both have customers who share those values. 

In this article, we'll unfold all the details of this collab, what there is to learn from it, and how outdoor brands can use these takeaways as inspiration. 

What is the Cotopaxi x HOKA Collab?

If your TikTok feed hasn't already been filled with influencers raving about HOKA, the brand is most famous for running shoes that provide a "cloudlike" walking sensation. Cotopaxi, on the other hand, is an outdoor brand that sells apparel, like hiking packs and backpacks, and outerwear, which feature bright colors and hues for any adventurer.

Last month, the two brands announced they would be launching a campaign together (fun fact: it's their second time partnering). The collection includes limited edition styles of HOKA's Anacapa Breeze Low sneaker and Cotopaxi's Kapai 3L Hip Pack Del Día featuring a bright color palette to the tune of Cotopaxi's signature style. The products are available on the brands' sites, but they've also teamed up with industry giant REI Co-Op as a retail partner.

Additionally, aside from the launch of the exclusive products, the two brands have also partnered together to support True Colors United, which aims to reduce homelessness amongst LGBTQ, youth of color, and other minorities, with a grant amounting to $60,000.

Key Takeaways for Outdoor Brands

Now regardless of whether your outdoor brand offers running shoes, gear, or apparel, there's so much to be learned from this collaboration. Here are just a few reasons why we love this strategy, and who knows? You might be inspired for your next partnership:

1. Collabs don't have to be limited to your niche

Of course, it may make sense for your outdoor brand to collaborate with another brand in the same space, but we'd like to highlight some of the benefits of thinking outside the box. We don't mean that you need to partner with brands that are far off from your target audience, but as you'll see in our next points, there are plenty of things that can unite different demographics apart from the products they like to buy. Sure, HOKA is a running brand, but there are many ways that this intersects with the market that Cotopaxi serves with its apparel and outerwear. 

Think hikers, mountaineers, or anyone who enjoys going the distance in the outdoors – they'll need great shoes and apparel! Even these brands serve pretty similar audiences, but our point is that your products don't have to be perfectly complementary or sit side by side on a shelf in order to thrive. 

2. Know your audience like the back of your hand

One of the reasons why this collaboration has been so successful is because of value-based marketing. This refers to targeting and appealing to the emotions and motives that get your audience to act. In this case, both HOKA and Cotopaxi have very clear initiatives to get people involved and active outdoors, especially through their messaging and brand personas. This collab was a natural fit and seamless execution because both brands' audiences are motivated by similar feelings and desires.

Also, the inclusion of a non-profit organization adds another level of value to the partnership. Customers can look good and feel good as they get outside and know they're helping contribute to a better cause (even if it's indirectly). 

So, consider what gets your customers to act. Are they particularly passionate about a specific community or activity? How can you integrate that into your future partnerships and identify intersections with other brands?

3. If it works, try it again!

We slipped it in earlier, but this is actually the brands' second time partnering with one another. In 2021, HOKA and Cotopaxi announced a similar collaboration, featuring HOKA Torrent 2s and Cotopaxi Batac Del Día backpack. The collab was a success (as evidenced by the continued partnership), but it also highlights a simple lesson that's often overlooked. If things work, don't be afraid to do them again and put a spin on it! Your customers are more flexible than you think, and no one's going to get bored or annoyed so long as it's new, attractive, and not oversaturated. Maybe you don't need to partner with a brand five times, but it doesn't hurt to put a fresh spin on an old collaboration that showed high success.

4. Get other organizations involved

If you're planning to root your collaboration in value-based marketing, including non-profit organizations is a wonderful way to show true commitment to the cause you champion or care about. Not only does it add legitimacy to what you're doing and your products' benefits, but it subconsciously allows customers to feel good about what they're doing, especially if it's making a purchase that has an impact. While HOKA x Cotopaxi pledged a grant rather than commissions or percentages of sales, it still shows that the brands are devoted to certain causes and improving the situation for people who may not be as fortunate. 

5. Leverage the power of (product) exclusivity

Finally, we're suckers for solid exclusivity and urgency messaging. The key here, though, is to do it in good taste (and good faith, of course). You don't want customers to feel like products are unavailable or so hard to find that they're out of reach, but you also want people to know the value of these special products. 

Urgency messaging can get a bad rap as using language to exaggerate or pressure customers into making purchases, but it couldn't be farther from the truth. Even simple phrases like "limited-edition" count as urgency and exclusivity messaging, but it's just giving customers a heads up that these products won't be around forever.

Remember, you want to motivate people to act, not feel like they don't have a shot at getting these sought-after products. Some of this comes with proper preparation. Make sure your advertising efforts aren't outpacing the amount of stock or inventory that you really have, but also don't deceive customers into thinking they'll be around for a while and then swiping them off the shelves or selling out in seconds. It's all about balance. 

Also, we mentioned including other organizations; see if there are ways to include specialty retailers or brick-and-mortar stores/events/pop-ups where people can purchase the gear. In this case, REI is a popular store that many people will be able to purchase from, rather than navigating through Cotopaxi's or HOKA's sites to find the products.

Final Thoughts

So, if you're considering a partnership with another brand, we vote: do it! But think it through and make sure it's a good fit. It's not just about having similar products or niches. Your audiences and their values should and need to align in order for your products to take off. And hey, if it works, why not try another iteration?

Are you ready to grow?

At Algofy Outdoors, we partner with amazing outdoor brands to provide 360° digital marketing solutions.

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