Survey conducted at Kutztown University
Consumer Behavior Research Based on Brand Perception

North Face Versus Columbia

I chose the marketing question, do customers buy the brands North Face and Columbia primarily because they are considered “name brand.” I also examined if customers purchase North Face and Columbia based on the products these companies sell which portray outdoorsy styles and benefits. I wanted to compare the customers that genuinely buy North Face and Columbia solely for their weather durability and product technology benefits instead of the brand label. I personally own a North Face jacket but I do not consider myself an outdoor activist. I believe society is constantly trying to compete with others based on statuses shown through material items.

Based on my observations and research, when comparing the North Face brand and the Columbia Brand websites, as a consumer I would assume Columbia seems to focus on the real outdoor explorers. Although, the North Face website has just as many shopping categories based on outdoor activities and athletics, the Columbia website visually portrayed the company to be more outdoor orientated than North Face. The North Face website seems more based on product style rather than focusing on protective gear for outdoor activities. The North Face website home page gave me less details about the advantages and benefits of products compared to the Columbia brand website. On the first page of the Columbia brand website featured a “Shop to Be” area, this section of the homepage website displays four different climates, featuring four different outdoor activities for those climates. The Columbia brand is displaying when customers would use the company products for certain temperatures and outdoor activities. The four pictures, are each labeled underneath with one of the following: “warm,” “dry,” “cool” and, “protected.” The Columbia brand website pictures can be clicked on to bring customers to the category label featured. The North Face website homepage displays people in cold weather areas, climbing rocky mountains, and hiking, but the website gives no further information or links to catch customer interest. 

When On the North Face website I could not find their mission statement easily, I had to use a separate website search engine and I am still unsure if this is correct, “[to] provide the best gear for our athletes and the modern day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration.” The Columbia website mission statement, “Being an industry leader in outdoor apparel and products takes passion, and an understanding of people who love the outdoors as much as we do. That’s why, from cutting edge technology, to our innovative heritage in Bugaboo, our jackets, pants, fleece, boots, and shoes are all tested tough so you can enjoy the outdoors longer.” When comparing the mission statements for North Face and Columbia, not only was the Columbia brand mission statement easy to find on the website, the mission statement clearly defines how the company will serve its customers and how the company wants to improve products and technology for customers. 

I expected the results to show based on my personal observations on campus and in general, that more men than woman wear the Columbia brand based on materialism and brand label. Also, based on my personal observations on campus and in general, I have seen more women than men wear the North Face brand because of the brand label. After I have researched Columbia and North Face homepage websites, I expected more outdoorsy customers would prefer the Columbia Brand over the North Face brand. After researching the company brand websites, I also expected more men to wear Columbia because the company website pictures and link features looked more adventurous and risky. Based on the profile of an innovator, it can be described as people who are younger, educated, urban, male, and who have a high acceptance of stimulation and risk. Although, innovators are typically less brand loyal, my survey is asking young, urban, educated people that attend Kutztown University. That being said, the Columbia website appearance shows people taking risks and participating in adrenaline rush activities; I would then assume based on the innovator profile that the urban men on this campus would be more favorable of the Columbia Brand. Overall, I would expect men to be less materialistic because women subconsciously try to compete with other females through their possessions. I also believe women try to show their personal status through their possessions in name brands, unlike men. Men from my day-to-day observations and conversations also seem to care less about what they wear; making name brand labels to most men not as important as they are to woman. I expected my survey results to show that men would score themselves higher than women when considering themselves “outdoorsy” or not.

After surveying 36 men and women students on the Kutztown University campus , 25 people considered themselves materialistic people. 16 of the 36 men and women students surveyed considered themselves outdoorsy. 18 of the 36 men and women students surveyed considered themselves to be a high score mixture of outdoorsy and materialistic. Out of the ten men surveyed on the Kutztown University campus only three of them did not consider themselves to be outdoorsy. Five out of the ten men survey considered themselves highly materialistic or moderately materialistic. Six out of the 26 women survey on the Kutztown University campus consider themselves to be outdoorsy but they do not care about name brands like North Face or Columbia.

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