Canadian Footwear Retailer ‘Call it Spring’ Shifts its Strategy with New Branding and Focus

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By Patricia Viscount

Call It Spring, a division of Canada's biggest footwear brand, Montreal’s Aldo Group, is changing its course at a time when overwhelming competition is causing institutional brands to disappear.

“There is no question that the retail landscape is shifting tremendously and we wanted to make sure we were adjusting with the times,” says Alyssa Whited, global senior manager of PR and social media at Call It Spring. “We looked at how we were differentiating ourselves but also how we could make ourselves available to a wider market.” 

No stranger to change, Call It Spring itself has gone through several transformations over the years – from “Transit” to “Spring” and finally to “Call It Spring” in 2010, after a few years of “coming of age”. Which is fitting, considering where they finally landed, offering trend-worthy styles to younger consumers at an affordable pricepoint (the sweet spot for Call It Spring remains between $20 - $110 for footwear).

Their market research indicated Generation Z (or the iGeneration, those born between 1993 – 2002) is a huge demographic for the footwear market, and one that was being woefully underserved by most retailers. They believe Gen Z has a huge amount of power - both from the perspective of what they can buy but also what they stand for as a generation.

“We recognize that it's not just about the product for our customers. The new generation is hyper-aware of social issues - they demand transparency,” says Monia Atijas, vice president, Call It Spring, The Aldo Group. “They are the first generation to grow up knowing only a world with Internet. So as a brand, it's our responsibility to give them the answers they are looking for.”

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Women footwear. Photo: Call It Spring Website

Women footwear. Photo: Call It Spring Website

Purchase With Purpose

Call It Spring responded and took their story beyond what they sell to give their customers a reason to purchase with purpose. Many of their new foundational brand pillars are outside “the product”. They’ve made it more about who they are and what they’re doing to put words into action.

Their newly enhanced digital platform went live on August 13. The logo has also morphed to reflect the new emphasis on connectivity (&Call It Spring). It symbolizes community and putting things together – everything from looks to ideas to collections.

Framed very similarly to a user’s experience on Instagram, their redesigned website eliminates individual pages; it’s now a continuous scroll and constant population of content. Because Gen Z customers are shopping online through these platforms, the change was very deliberate.

For the company, e-commerce represents about 12% of total sales in Canada and about 7% in the United States. Of that, mobile represented 64% of web traffic and 45% of e-commerce sales in Canada and in the United States, 73% of its web traffic is from mobile which accounts for 55% of sales.

In terms of a straightforward business strategy, they’re more focused on the transition of their customer’s journey. Not only are GenZers spending money now, but also in time, they will transition into the ideal Aldo customer – a mid-20s, fashion-forward style seeker who still wants new trends at a good price.

Handbags. Photo: Call It Spring Website

Handbags. Photo: Call It Spring Website

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Not Everything Is Changing

The new brand direction needed to be translated into something that still complemented their traditional brick and mortar locations. Throughout the rebrand process, a lot of thought went into how they continue to serve the loyal customer base that has been supportive for many years. Call It Spring will still have core products for everyday needs – from ballet flats to winter boots. However, they will now be interwoven with new trends that some might think are a bit fashion-forward. Ideally, customers will feel comfortable trying styles they see on Instagram without hurting their (or their parents’) wallet too much.

Their new demographic is admittedly young. As a result, the power of the parents is noteworthy and Call It Spring is savvy enough to know who controls the purse strings. Parents are a heavy influence in their marketing strategy.

“We believe it’s because we didn’t start as a Gen Z brand,” says Alyssa. “At Call It Spring, a lot of parents know us and they are already supporters. It’s often the parents who are onboard first and then they encourage their kids to get behind it.”

Only time and their customers will tell if this new iteration will stand the storms of a daunting retail environment.

ME to WE Partnership committed to assisting communities in the Kenyan Maasai Mara. Photo: ME to We Facebook

ME to WE Partnership committed to assisting communities in the Kenyan Maasai Mara. Photo: ME to We Facebook

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Sidebar: ME to WE Partnership Focused On Education

In keeping with their philosophy of purchase with purpose, Call It Spring recently kicked off their Education Empowers program. This is an initiative in partnership with ME to WE, under one of its three key pillars of impact, Education.

Over the next three years, Call It Spring has committed to assisting communities in the Kenyan Maasai Mara. By helping build 10 classrooms in rural communities in the region, which will house over 400 female students, they will enable these young girls to go to school, which might not otherwise happen.

To raise money for this mission, Call It Spring is selling custom Rafiki bracelets in-store and online, with proceeds going back to filling those same classrooms with school supplies. Available exclusively through Call It Spring in store and online at https://www.callitspring.com/ca/en/metowe, each $3 bracelet purchased will provide enough school supplies for one student.

“When children in developing countries are educated, they are armed with the courage and self-confidence to better themselves, their families and the next generation,” says Monia. “They learn how to prevent illness, maintain infrastructure and secure sustainable livelihoods. It starts with education then ripples for generations – this is true for wherever you live in the world. That is why education is so important to Call It Spring.”

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Patricia Viscount lives in Calgary and has over 25 years of experience as a communications specialist, writer and editor. She began her career as a public affairs officer in the Canadian Forces before transitioning to a senior advisor role in the energy industry. Self-employed since 2016, she helps her clients navigate the stressful world of words to allow them to build business messages with confidence and clarity. Follow her on Twitter @PViscount, LinkedIn at Patricia Viscount or email her at: patricia.viscount@gmail.com.

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