It is not a secret that trail running is booming in Malaysia.
More runners are shifting their courses from the asphalt of the city into the great outdoors. As the remarkable growth of trail running continues, The North Face is also finding its way into the other outdoor recreations, and determining its future.
In a media launch of The North Face FUTURELIGHT in Shangri-La in Yunnan, Scott Mellin, an outdoor enthusiast and also the Global General Manager of Performance Sports for The North Face provided important insights into the future of trail running and other outdoor activities in Asia.
Please tell us about yourself especially your career in the sports industry and The North Face.
Scott Mellin: I am a focused creative innovator, and have developed highly successful brands, products and marketing concepts.
Having had a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting industry and within brands, I am skilled in product development, product marketing, sales management, business development, and sports marketing strategy.
I also manage the alpinism, climbing, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, ski mountaineering, trail running, and training business at The North Face.
How do you see The North Face different from your competitors in terms of product offerings?
Scott Mellin: There are two ways to look at that. Firstly, The North Face develops technology-based products. What I believe is that The North Face has always set a new benchmark for the standard, in terms of the breathability and comfort of the products. Typically, these did not occur at all in competitors’ products.
Secondly, it is the brand. When you look at the other brands, they are mostly buying the fabric books from the same couple of companies. So, we have created a big differentiation in our technology for the benefit of the brand and the customers.
While the rest of the brands buy the materials from the same suppliers, we walk away from that, and that is part of our strategy. In fact, it is hard and expensive to create our own materials.
In a tropical country like Malaysia, where there’s no skiing, snowboarding, snow mountain climbing, ski mountaineering, what do you want The North Face be in Asia, particularly a small market like Malaysia?
Scott Mellin: I think, typically, The North face has been associated with the protection against the snow and the cold. I think, it provides protection more broadly against all weather conditions.
For The North Face, particularly the FUTURELIGHT to be positioned in the Asian market, it would be the breathability. Despite the humidity level in the Asian countries, you do not need to worry about our products because our products breath so well. You won’t overheat wearing it.
The breathability will be a huge benefit for the consumers.
There are increasingly more choices available to consumers nowadays, what makes consumers choose The North Face?
Scott Mellin: I believe the technology is very applicable for the lifestyle customers and the athletic customers. We are on the journey to bring and introduce the technology to all types of consumers.
There is also a simple phrase that I use to help and guide my teams around the world, which is to create brand credibility. The North Face is used and tried out in the mountains. We live in the mountains and have tested them in the hardest place in the world, with the professional athletes.
If I had to find one reason for consumers to believe The North Face is the best, it would be the simple fact that the products have been put to the test on the top of the world.
How do you see the future of hiking and trail running in Asia?
Scott Mellin: Trail running is an explosive sport in Asia. In the Asian regions ten years ago, there were only five ultra-marathons. Now, there are more than hundreds of ultra-marathons every month. Participation is increasing.
Hiking for The North Face is the largest and the most successful business category. We are actually designing more products for the younger and more youthful customers who like to hit the trails close to the city. It will be a whole new opportunity for the city-based customers, and we are really excited about it.