From Obama to Drake, to students in South Korea – North Face attire seems ubiquitous.  Suburban moms and elite athletes alike agree that North Face is cool.

But I love this quote from North Face President Todd Spaletto “We don’t know who our typical consumer is.  We don’t measure.  We don’t look at average age or where they live.”  Instead, they simply build hard core products for passionate fans around four outdoor activities: hiking, trekking, running and snow sports.

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 12.23.48 PMToday, NorthFace accounts for 33.5% of the outdoor apparel marketing in the US. They reported global revenue of $1.9 billion in 2012, up from $242 million in 2001.  On the other hand, NorthFace’s nearest competitor, Columbia Sportswear uses big data to aggressively target “ordinary people”, and they are happy to sell their clothing at discout stores like T.J. Maxx.  Columbia only has 12.5% of the sportwear market.

North Face is living proof that when given the option, people will seek out brands born of a companies authentic passions vs. a desire to simply move some “merch”.  Story below.