REI Co-op Footwear Launch

The REI Co-op brand hasn't made shoes in a while. So how do we get customers—and, maybe even more importantly, store staff—to trust that our hiking boots will stand up to the rigors of the trail?

For this launch, we identified key opportunities that would help make our hiking boots stand up to the competitors and stand out to staff and customers: technology naming, sustainability messaging, field testing testimonials, and a compelling suite of consistent storytelling across touchpoints.

Luckily, that last one is easy when you're a writing team of one.*

*JUST KIDDING! I couldn't have done this alone by any means. My creative director, art directors, product strategy partners and PR, vis merch, dig merch, marketing and many other cross-divisional partners helped make this launch come alive.


Technology Naming

Prior to this launch, we had pretty much decided that our brand, REI Co-op, shouldn't name technologies. Our main goal is to demystify outdoor industry jargon to make the outdoors more approachable to newcomers, and technology names often complicate the message further. However, when looking at the footwear industry, we recognized that technology names are often a way to succinctly describe the pieces of the product. We played with many different iterations (lots of which didn't fly from a legal perspective...the hardest part of naming) and ended with a suite of outdoor-inspired, easy-to-understand, descriptive technology names.



Next, we had to deliver a shoebox. We talked to store staff about what they wanted in a shoebox: (1) easy to find on a sea of shelves and (2) easy to read the size, color and name at a glance. We balanced those needs with the key messaging we wanted customers to know right away when trying on the boots. And it needed to compliment our packaging too.


Other touchpoints

From there, we focused on training store staff. Leveraging our "Footwear with a lighter footprint" go-to-market message, we created a 4-page magazine spread featuring an interview of the designer, notes from the field testers, and comprehensive technology and sustainability training. Then we released two staff-exclusive articles as well as a robust training module. Finally, we sent posters to the stores to get them hyped and hopefully serve as a quick glance in case of customer questions on the footwear floor in the stores. And our marketing partners took it from there!

See below for the store poster. The rest is internal audience only!