The North Face and Nike

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The North Face and Nike on marketing

The North Face seems to have just peaked on its cultural moment in Korea. The North Face jackets are worn by all strata of society. Below is a Korean blog post that compares Its winter coats with different types of high school students as the brand has become so ubiquitous in South Korean school yards and on the backs of consumers during the winter months.

The bottom of the blog post goes on to compare The North Face with the duffle coats worn by previous generation of school children in a mocking way.

it is as much the winter uniform of the Korean salary man as his tie.

The North Face sees itself as a technical brand rather than a true luxury brand, but the vast majority of its jackets don’t see the mountains and ski slopes for which they were originally designed. It has begun to treat itself as a premium brand with its purple label retro designs and different fabrics like Harris Tweed – currently exclusive to the Japanese market. But how can this be maintained if the brand becomes this overexposed?

It is not a corner that it can easily get out of and technical innovation in the clothing design will be of limited use.

North Face overexposure

Part of the problem is the nature of Korean society itself which has a certain conformity to it. This means that once a trend picks up, it goes everywhere. But then because it goes everywhere it has a finite life. A small amount of tastemakers move on and the cycle begins again.

The next winter jacket might be Canada Goose or Moncler.

Contrast this with Nike: The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about how Nike and Footlocker maximised revenue from the Jordan franchise through careful timing of limited product releases. More marketing related posts here.