Steve Lesnard and The North Face Sets the Standard With FUTURELIGHT
Can FUTURELIGHT really be so different than other athletic brand re-designs masquerading as innovation thanks to marketing hype? With FUTURELIGHT, our hopes are high considering that newly appointed Global VP of Marketing Steve Lesnard is at the helm of The North Face’s latest campaign. Steve Lesnard is known for his passion for a “product-focused” and “consumer-centric” approach to marketing. According to Lesnard, today’s consumers are quick to see through sales-focused transactional intent. As a result, marketing efforts must be directed at providing products and services that add value and benefit to consumers’ lives. Steve Lesnard believes that product marketing should be more about dialing in on what consumers really need and creating truly innovative products that respond to this demand.
In the case of FUTURELIGHT, expeditionists and arm-chair athletes alike were asking for a fabric that would help them engage with the outside environment like never before. The North Face answered in a remarkable feat of innovation with FUTURELIGHT, while also preserving the company’s commitment to sustainability. Read on for our top reasons why consumers and competitors alike should consider FUTURELIGHT to be a true gamechanger in the world of outdoor apparel and gear.
FUTURELIGHT Delivers Durability, Breathability, and Sustainability Kiss clammy goodbye with the most breathable fabric on the market.
The North Face explains that FUTURELIGHT is so porous that it’s 85 percent air. The result is a thin, soft, and quiet fabric that still delivers fully waterproof capabilities. The North Face utilizes a proprietary process called nanospinning, which involves 220,000 microscopic nozzles spinning webs of ultra-thin fibers into a matrix of superthin polyurethane. While the basic technology behind nanospinning is nothing new, The North Face has developed its own process that allows for membrane density at the most microscopic level. The company’s new nanospinning technology also allows for membrane density and weight to be modified for different applications; currently offering five different weights of FUTURELIGHT fabric, The North Face has the ability to “tune” the fabric’s weight and breathability to its desired capability. So whether an ultra-light extra-breathable version for running or a thicker and more protective weight for expedition gear like tents and ski jackets, FUTURELIGHT offers limitless possibilities for innovation and customization.
Athlete tested for extreme durability.
With one of the world’s most powerful and prolific teams of athlete testers, The North Face subjected its FUTURELIGHT technology to over 400 continuous days of rigorous testing in some of the toughest environmental conditions. Moreover, the company’s team of world-class explorers and athletes, including the likes of ski-mountaineers Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison, snowboarder Leslie Pelos, and runner Coree Woltering, were steeped in every level of the product’s development. From conception to final testing, FUTURELIGHT was designed with painstaking attention to the needs of real athletes who needed a fabric that could not just breath but also hold up over time. FUTURELIGHT fabric has even received a 100 percent waterproof stamp of approval from UL, the century-old standard for testing of apparel donned by fire, hazmat, and emergency personnel around the world.
Built for sustainability.
Today’s consumers are sinking in a sea of athleisure. But in our era of climate crisis, when millenials and Gen-Zers are more concerned about their cities literally sinking into the sea, sustainability plays a more critical role than ever. The North Face promises users that FUTURELIGHT will help them “defy the past and wear the future.” And for today’s consumers, wearing the future means engaging in socially and environmentally conscious consumerism. FUTURELIGHT meets the mark on all accounts.
Although The North Face has always held an ethos of environmental sustainability, FUTURELIGHT claims to be the company’s most sustainably produced fabric to date. Crafted from 90 percent recycled materials in solar-powered factories without the use of PFAs (a toxic chemical found in most waterproof fabrics), FUTURELIGHT pushes the boundaries of performance innovation without making any trade-off on sustainability. According to Steve Lesnard, FUTURELIGHT “is a perfect example of the very best, done in the most sustainable way.”
FUTURELIGHT Creates a New Paradigm for Manufacturing Protective Clothing
The release of FUTURELIGHT signals a marked shift in The North Face’s marketing strategy. While the company has previously relied on existing mainstay materials such as Gore-Tex and Polartec in crafting its products, FUTURELIGHT represents a move outside of the standard supply chain. Although the development of FUTURELIGHT has been a significant investment for the company, The North Face’s focus on developing its own proprietary fabrics may poise the company to separate itself from competitors in the future.
The North Face’s about-face in marketing strategy can be credited in part to Steve Lesnard’s leadership of the company’s latest branding efforts. Lesnard is known for his adherence to a product-focused strategy. Instead of selling consumers on a product that is little more than the same old thing wrapped up in thinly disguised hype, Lesnard pushes for true innovation in the company’s products that are designed in a way that personalizes the consumer experience and solves real problems.
According to Steve Lesnard, “leading on product integrity and product sustainability is something consumers, particularly in the outdoor space, truly resonate with.” Consumers want brands to live up to the values they connect with. And for The North Face, that means delivering a product that not only helps people get outdoors but also is manufactured in a way that guarantees that there will still be an outdoors to enjoy in the future.
With FUTURELIGHT, The North Face delivers a one-two punch on the sustainability front; not only is the fabric made using environmentally friendly practices, but it’s durability and effectiveness guarantees that jackets rolling off of the manufacturing line today won’t end up in a landfill anytime soon. Lesnard explains that The North Face has always believed that one of the most effective ways to protect the environment is to make a product that lasts. That’s why the company offers a lifetime warranty on its products. It also incorporates recycled materials into many of its products, including the company’s mainstay Denali jacket.
Ultimately, FUTURELIGHT represents The North Face’s commitment to upholding what Steve Lesnard claims are the “highest levels of sustainability, durability, and quality” while equipping the next generation of explorers to get out and enjoy the outdoors. After all, who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on the world’s most breathable jacket to enjoy nothing more than a smog-laden, trash-filled tundra.
About Steve Lesnard and The North Face
Steve Lesnard is the newly appointed global VP of marketing at The North Face. In his previous tenure with one of the largest athletic brands in the world, Lesnard served as global vice president and general manager of the company’s running division, where he led two Olympic marketing campaigns, led the company’s running business to its current position as a global leader in the sporting industry, and ran the European marketing organization. During that time, his industry-changing innovations drove $5.3 billion in business.
As a sports fanatic and outdoor enthusiast since childhood, Steve Lesnard’s passion for creating global branding campaigns in the athletics sector is fueled by his zest for sports and the outdoors. From martial arts to running, mountain biking, kite surfing, and snowboarding, Lesnard relishes any activity that allows him to appreciate the “strength, power, and beauty” of Mother Nature.
Steve Lesnard releases regular podcasts on which he shares his experience and insights on consumer-centric global marketing and branding campaigns. He has also provided consulting services on various global marketing campaigns for several other brands in the athletics, fashion, and tech sectors.