Roots

For a school assignment, I was asked to create a communications plan for a particular brand/company. A communications plan consists of a type of situation or scenario in which a Public Relations professional develops a campaign or strategy that will benefit a specific company, and in this case, said company was Roots. I thought I would post excerpts of my communications plan to my blog because the content really is rather interesting in regards to Roots and their background, and the campaign I describe in the plan, the Canada’s Best Sweater, was a situation provided to me by my professor and is not actually a Roots product. The plan includes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (a SWOT analysis), research about the company, the company’s target audiences and publics, the goals and objectives I hope to achieve through my plan, strategies and tactics regarding my goals and objectives, my key messages, and an overall evaluation of my plan. I hope you enjoy!

Strengths

            According to their website, Roots is Canada’s leading lifestyle brand, recognized globally for its quality leather goods, active athletic wear, yoga wear, accessories and home furnishings, therefore Roots exists to provide customers with quality and trustworthy apparel, accessories and home furnishings. Roots have a strong reputation concerning their quality merchandise. In addition to having a state-of-the-art manufacturing factory in Toronto, their website states that Roots is committed to ethical business practices in all aspects of their manufacturing process and require that working conditions meet stringent health, safety, and labor standards. Roots also stress their prioritization of the environment and sustainability when it comes to manufacturing their products. Their website states that they are a company dedicated to selecting sustainable suppliers and minimizing their carbon footprint in terms of product packaging and shipping. Roots’ commitment to practicing ethical and local product manufacturing in addition to their respect for the environment are definite strengths of the company.

Weaknesses

            Roots products are high-quality; however, they are expensive. A pair of their sweatpants retails for an average of $74.00; duffel bags retail for an average of $400; jackets retail for an average of $350.00-$400.00. For middle and working-class citizens, these prices simply are not affordable, and for this reason, the cost of Roots products may deter potential buyers. Their sweaters retail between $80.00 and $100.00, therefore the Canada’s Best sweater may only appeal to individuals who are able to afford these prices. This is a weakness because it limits the audience the Canada’s Best sweater would appeal to and prevents certain buyers from purchasing it.

Opportunities

            In 2006, Roots opened the Roots Yoga Studio in Toronto, the first yoga studio to be directly affiliated with the brand. It is located directly above the Roots Rosedale store and is managed by Denyse Green, wife of Roots co-founder Don Green, who has been a yoga enthusiast for over thirty years. Denyse was the main contributor in developing Roots’ yoga apparel, and the studio is eco-friendly and offers classes seven days a week. The opening of this yoga studio is an example of future opportunities Roots can engage in. The millennial demographic is very health conscious and exercise oriented, therefore the expansion of the brand and the opening of more studios like the Rosedale studio could attract more customers and expand brand recognition.

Threats

            The main threat to Roots is Lululemon.  Lululemon, like Roots, is a Canadian company, and Lululemon also caters to individuals with athletic interests and lifestyles. The price of merchandise between Roots and Lululemon is quite similar, therefore a choice between the two brands could come down to something as simple as apparel design.

Research

To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, Roots introduced their “Nice” campaign. By researching this campaign, I was able to determine that Roots effectively engaged with social media to promote their Canada 150 apparel. According to strategyonline.ca, Roots, in partnership with Olympic kayak champion Adam van Koeverden, encouraged Canadians to nominate compatriots for the “Canada’s Nicest Person” competition in May by using hashtags #BeNice and #RootsIsCanada. Ten finalists were selected and were posted on the Roots website in June for further online voting, and in June the winner was revealed, Darryl Cousins, his prize being $10,000 donated by Roots to be given to a charity of Cousin’s choice. The Nice campaign and its positive outcome suggest that social media is an effective way to promote Roots merchandise and that using social media platforms and hashtags would be a successful way to promote the Canada’s Best sweater. Researching the Nice campaign also allowed me to recognize the effectiveness of having a professional Canadian athlete team up with the company in order to secure positive media coverage of Roots and build consumer and industry awareness of the brand. Adam van Koeverden is originally from Oakville, Ontario, and I believe having an athlete promote the Canada’s Best sweater would be a strong marketing technique. For example, Mark McMorris is an example of a Canadian athlete who could potentially promote the Canada’s Best sweater, and since the sweater will be announced this Winter, McMorris would be a great partnership because he is a professional snowboarder and he participates in the Winter Olympic games. Having a recognizable Canadian athlete would be an effective way to attract positive media coverage of the Canada’s Best sweater and further to reiterate the Canadian heritage within the Roots brand.

Roots have a positive reputation in the fashion industry. Their websites lists countless awards they have received over the years, some examples being The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) honoring Michael Budman and Don Green with the 14th annual Award of Excellence for Communication and Public Relations in 2006, being ranked the top brand in the retail sector in the Brand Finance Canada report in 2007, and coming in first place in 2007 in a poll of Canadians for Strategy magazine asking customers which is the top design-savvy Canadian brand between Roots (68% preference), Shoppers Drug Mart, Telus and Cirque du Soleil. Their prestigious reputation within the Canadian fashion industry serves as a strong indication of how they are perceived by customers, and their ability to continuously produce trustworthy and durable clothing is another reason as to why the Canada’s Best sweater will be of interest to media and the Canadian fashion industry.

Target Audiences/Publics

The primary target audience for the Canada’s Best sweater is Canadians who are passionate about athletics and sports, specifically winter sports. Roots states on their website that they have always been an avid supporter of Canadian athletes and sports in general, supporting athletes such as world champion kayaker Adam van Koeverden, Kurt Browning, Catriona Le May Doan and Razor Ruddock. Considering the Canada’s Best sweater will be launched this coming winter, my primary target audience will be Canadian individuals who are passionate about winter sports, for example, athletes, community coaches, trainers, and teams.

The secondary target audience for the Canada’s Best sweater is Canadians who are passionate about the environment and sustainability. The Roots website explains that the brand has been a longtime advocate for environmental commitment and promotes using recycled, reclaimed and non-toxic materials in the building of stores, creating sustainable products and also supporting several environmental organizations and related projects. For these reasons, my secondary target audience for the Canada’s Best sweater launch will be Canadian environmentalists and enthusiasts. Having a recognized Canadian environmentalist to promote the sweater and the Roots brand, for example, David Suzuki would be an effective strategy to appeal to my secondary target audience.

A final target audience would be Roots suppliers and investors. According to an article by Marina Strauss in The Globe and Mails, Roots co-founders Michael Budman and Don Green sold a majority stake in their company for an undisclosed amount to Searchlight Capital Partners LP, an investment firm based in Toronto, New York, and London in 2015. Searchlight Capital Partners LP purchased the majority stake in hopes to expand Roots across North America and further into Europe and Asia. Roots currently have 245 stores total, 115 in Canada, 5 in the United States and 125 in China and Taiwan, and the brand’s international recognition increased in the early 2000s when the brand became an Olympics outfitting champion. Searchlight Capital Partners LP is a final target audience because of their heavy involvement with the brand, and their hopes to expand Roots globally is an effective way to generate an international awareness of Roots and promote the Canada’s Best sweater to a wider audience.

Goals

I hope to drive traffic to the Roots website by promoting the Canada’s Best sweater through means of social media activity and interaction. For example, encouraging social media users to make use of the hashtag #CanadasBestSweater, sharing their passion for Canadian sports by using the hashtag #RootsIsCanadianSports, and sharing their passion for the environment by using the hashtag #LoveYourRoots. These hashtags can be used on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, with Roots’ Facebook domain being Roots Canada, their Twitter domain being @RootsCanada and their Instagram domain being @rootscanada.

I hope to increase brand recognition of Roots through the launch of the Canada’s Best Sweater. By appealing to both Canadian athletes and Canadian environmentalists by partnering with one highly recognized Canadian athlete and one highly recognized Canadian environmental activist, I hope to encourage consumers to associate Roots with Canadian sports and the environment and to enhance the overall reputation of the brand.

I hope to improve the image of Roots’ by promoting their passion for Canadian sports and the environment through the Canada’s Best sweater launch. By emphasizing the sustainable and efficient practices of the brand and having recognizable Canadians supporting the sweater I hope to improve the perception of Roots by consumers.

Objectives

For my goal of driving more traffic to the Roots website, my objective is to increase web traffic to their website by over 20% in the next nine months (December-August) as the launch for the Canada’s Best sweater is scheduled to take place in August 2018. I believe the use of three hashtags (#CanadasBestSweater, #RootsIsCanadianSports, #LoveYourRoots) across social media platforms will allow for this 20% increase to occur, specifically if recognized Canadian athletes and environmentalists are promoting the hashtags, for example, Canadian athlete Mark McMorris and Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki. The use of this hashtags would be promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as they exercise the use of hashtags most often as opposed to other social media platforms that do not, for example, Snapchat.

For my goal of increasing brand recognition of Roots, my objective is to reach out to Canadian athlete Mark McMorris and Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki to promote the brand and to generate consumer awareness of the brand and also the Canada’s Best sweater. By collaborating with well-known Canadian figures in order to promote the sweater I hope to increase brand recognition of Roots merchandise by 15% in the next nine months (December to August) as the launch for the Canada’s Best sweater is scheduled to take place in August 2018.

Strategies and Tactics

  • As my objective is to increase web traffic to the Roots website by over 20% in the next nine months (December-August), my strategy is to inform consumers of Roots’ passion for Canadian sports and the environment and my tactic is to create a giveaway contest that exists across all of Roots’ social media platforms, for example Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. To enter the contest, social media users must make use of two of the three hashtags I mentioned in Objectives, and the prize for the giveaway contest would be one of the Canada’s Best sweaters signed by Mark McMorris or David Suzuki, depending on the hashtag used. The #RootsIsCanadianSports hashtag would enter participants into a draw specifically for sweaters signed by McMorris and the #LoveYourRoots hashtag would enter participants into a draw specifically for sweaters signed by David Suzuki. There would be 50 Canada’s Best sweaters available to win, 25 for the #RootsIsCanadianSports hashtag and 25 for the #LoveYourRoots hashtag. My tactic for promoting these two hashtags across social media platforms would be arranging a Twitter takeover of the Roots twitter account by both McMorris and Suzuki. Having these two Canadian individuals take over the Roots Twitter account is an effective tactic to get social media users interested in the hashtags and their purpose. McMorris and Suzuki are highly recognized Canadian individuals, and having McMorris appeal to sports enthusiasts and Suzuki appeal to environmentalists is a tactic that ensures each of Roots’ main passions is equally promoted. McMorris would explain the purpose of the #RoosIsCanadianSports hashtag in his Twitter takeover and Suzuki would explain the purpose of the #LoveYourRoots hashtag in his Twitter takeover, and I would arrange for these takeovers to occur beginning this December in order to ensure all key public are aware of the Canada’s Best product launch in the upcoming Winter months. I would also request that McMorris and Suzuki made use of the hashtags via their personal Twitter accounts in order for this giveaway tactic to be successful and to reach a larger consumer audience. Both McMorris and Suzuki would explain in their Twitter takeovers that the hashtags can be used across three social media platforms, for example, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and by doing so they would increase the possibility of the giveaway contest reaching a larger audience. I would also ask that McMorris and Suzuki mention in their Twitter takeovers that the Roots website would have a detailed description of the purpose of the Canada’s Best sweater which would increase traffic to the website.
  • An additional tactic to support my objective of increasing web traffic to the Roots website by over 20% in the next nine months (December-August) and my strategy to inform consumers of Roots’ passion for Canadian sports and the environment is to create an area on the Roots website in which customers can contribute ideas towards the design of the Canada’s Best sweater. I would create a tab on the Roots website titled “Design your own Canada’s Best Sweater”, and upon clicking on this tab customers would be re-directed to a new page where they are able to build their very own Canada’s Best sweater. I would ensure that there is a brief instructional blurb for customers to read in order to understand the process of designing their own sweater via the Roots website, and I would ensure that there is a description of what the Canada’s Best sweater represents, which is a passion for Canadian sports and athletics and also the environment. The sweater design tab on the Roots website would be equipped with several of Roots’ current sweater fits, for example, their traditional pullover, their Faye Sweater, their Roots Cabin Hybrid Hoody, their Douglas Crew Sweater and their Roots Cabin Cardigan. There would be an option to design both men and women’s sweaters and also an option to design a child’s sweater. There would be an array of color choice available for the design tab, however red and white will appear in every color combination to remind customers that the sweater is intended to exemplify Canada and Roots’ ties to Canada. There would be an option to incorporate graphics onto the sweater design each customer creates, some example of graphics being the Canadian flag, the Roots logo (depicts a beaver in front of a Canadian flag), a maple tree with falling leaves or hockey skates, the idea being that each graphic represents Canada in a certain way. Once customers finish their custom Canada’s Best sweater, they will be able to submit their design to the Roots website if they wish in order to participate in the design of the actual Canada’s Best sweater once it launches in August 2018. The design tab on the Roots website would become effective this December when the sweater begins to be promoted and design submissions will be accepted until June 2018. If a customer’s design is used in the process of designing the Canada’s Best sweater, they will be notified and will receive a free sweater once it becomes available for purchase. Allowing Roots customers to potentially influence the design of a future Roots product will attract more people to the Roots website while simultaneously stressing the relationship between Roots and Canada. It is unusual for a brand to welcome influence form consumers when designing a future product, therefore this tactic will be effective in increasing traffic to the Roots website.
  • As my objective is to increase brand recognition of Roots merchandise by 15% in the next nine months (December to August) by partnering with McMorris and Suzuki, my strategy is to inform consumers of Roots’ passion for Canada and its Canadian heritage and my tactic is to create a grand prize draw for purchasers of the Canada’s Best sweater to win a trip to the Roots Toronto Head office, located on 1400 Castlefield Ave. Purchasing a Canada’s Best Sweater allows buyers to be entered into the draw as each sweater will have a tag with a verification code. By entering the verification code on the Roots website (there would be a tab specifically for this draw on the Roots website’s home page), buyers of the Canada’s Best sweater are electronically entered into a pool and the winner will be picked at random in September 2018 as the sweater launches in August 2018. Each sweater would have a different verification code to prevent buyers from attempting to rig the grand prize draw, and once the code is entered it would become invalid for any attempt of future use. The trip to the Roots Toronto Head office would consist of the winner being given the opportunity to aid in designing a future Roots product that promotes and emphasizes Canada and Roots’ Canadian heritage. The tactic to create a grand prize draw will increase awareness of Roots’ passion for Canada and its Canadian heritage as the contest will only be open to Canadian citizens, and to ensure the winner is Canadian they must provide proof when they enter their verification code online, for example by submitting a photocopy of their Driver’s License or Health Card. By ensuring participants in the grand prize draw are Canadian, this tactic emphasizes Roots’ ties to Canada, and the prize to visit the Roots Toronto Head Office stresses the fact that the brand remains loyal to the city where the first Roots store opened in 1973. This tactic therefore also ensures all key publics are aware of the pending product of the Canada’s Best sweater in Toronto. Since the winner of the grand prize draw will be given the opportunity to come up with the design of a future Roots product while working with the brand, the once-in-a-lifetime grand prize tactic will increase brand recognition of Roots merchandise by 15% in the next nine months because it will appeal to current Canadian Roots customers and also attract new Canadian customers. The emphasis on Canada and its ties to the Roots company through the grand prize tactic will ensure Canadians become more aware of Roots’ passion for Canada and further will encourage Canadian Roots buyers to associate the brand with their home country. This tactic will increase brand recognition because it welcomes the participation of Roots customers, similar to tactic #2.
  • An additional tactic regarding my objective to increase brand recognition of Roots merchandise by 15% in the next nine months (December to August) by partnering with McMorris and Suzuki and my strategy to inform consumers of Roots’ passion for Canada and its Canadian heritage is to host a launch party for the launch of the Canada’s Best sweater in August 2018. I will promote this launch party tactic beginning this coming December by developing a teaser trailer for the sweater, this trailer containing clips of McMorris and Suzuki speaking about their Canadian ties and promoting Roots’ Canadian history. I would ask McMorris and Suzuki to explain what the Canada’s Best sweater represents (Roots’ passion for Canadian sports and athletes and the environment) and having these two Canadian figures promoting the Roots brand and also the sweater would help to increase brand recognition of Roots merchandise. I would also arrange for Roots co-founders Don Green and Michael Budman to speak in the teaser video in order to explain how Canada’s world-famous Algonquin Park sparked their love for Canada and its beautiful wilderness and what the Canada’s Best sweater means to them personally and what it represents. The trailer would contain clips of Canadian athletes participating in the Olympic games in order to emphasize Roots’ passion for Canadian sports, and it would incorporate clips of Canada’s landscape, specifically shots of Algonquin Park, to emphasize Roots’ passion for the environment. This teaser trailer for the Canada’s Best sweater would be aired on Roots’ social media platforms and I would also ensure that it is aired on Canadian television networks, for example, CTV Television Network and CBC Television. I would ask McMorris, Suzuki, Green, and Budman to attend the launch party in August 2018 and would arrange for it to be held at the very first Roots store that opened, located on Yonge St. in Toronto. Having these influential figures present at the launch party will encourage consumers to be interested in the event, therefore this tactic will encourage a greater awareness of the Roots brand and their merchandise. The launch party would be Canadian themed, for example having red and white as the main color scheme and serving Canadian cuisines such as poutine and beaver tails. Ensuring that this launch party will host the co-founders of the Roots brand and also two highly recognized Canadian figures that partnered with Roots to promote the Canada’s Best sweater is a tactic that will increase brand recognition of Roots merchandise. This launch party tactic reiterates Roots’ Canadian history and its passion for Canadian sports and environmentalists, therefore it is an effective way to generate awareness of the Roots brand and their merchandise and attract new customers.

Key Messages

  • The Roots Canada’s Best Sweater is a symbol and proud supporter of Canadian sports and athletes
  • The Roots Canada’s Best Sweater represents a respect for Canada’s environments and supports efficient sustainability
  • The Roots Canada’s Best Sweater embodies what makes Canadians Canadian – honesty, respect, and a commitment to their country

Since my target audience is Canadian individuals who are passionate about sports and athletics and also the environment, I believe these key messages represent what it is my audience would want to know about the Canada’s Best sweater and its purpose. By touching on key components of what the Canada’s Best sweater represents, I believe these key messages could be stated by Michael Budman and Don Green, the CEOs of roots, when answering a media query because they are simple, honest, and they represent what Roots is passionate about and what they aim to communicate through their merchandise and the development of their products.

 Evaluation

I will begin evaluating the success of my plan in December 2017 because the Roots Twitter takeovers by McMorris and Suzuki are scheduled to begin this coming December, and the teaser trailer for the Canada’s Best sweater is also scheduled to launch this coming December. I will continue to track the success of my plan from December 2017 to August of 2018 and will hopefully notice an increase in visits to the Roots website in this time frame as well as in increase in Roots customers and the sale of merchandise. I will track website traffic to the Roots website in order to determine whether or not more individuals are visiting the site, and I will track sales of products in order to determine whether or not customers are increasing, decreasing, or remaining steady. I will monitor the number of customers that participate in the designing of their own Canada’s Best sweater and further how many customers submit their designs to be considered in the development of the actual sweater. I will track the number of times the hashtags #CanadasBestSweater, #RootsIsCanadianSports and #LoveYourRoots are used across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms, and I will further track to see if any social media users are tweeting directly to the Roots social media platforms. I will observe the number of views the teaser trailer receives for the Canada’s Best sweater to analyze whether or not the video was an effective marketing strategy. I will record attendance at the sweater launch party in Toronto in August 2018, and I will also track the number of individuals that enter both the Canada’s Best grand prize draw to win a trip to Roots’ Head Office in Toronto and also the Canada’s Best Sweater giveaway contest to receive one of the sweaters signed by either McMorris or Suzuki. Finally, I will compare the results of the Canada’s Best sweater product launch to the Be Nice Campaign Roots designed for Canada’s 150th anniversary. According to an article on CBC.ca by Solomon Israel, branding expert Ron Tite found the Be Nice Campaign from Roots to hit the mark because it linked the concept of niceness to Canadian identity without excessively emphasizing Roots clothing in the process. I will compare the success of the Canada’s Best sweater product launch to the success of the Roots Be Nice Campaign in order to determine whether or not the sweater campaign stresses the importance of Canadian sports and athletics and also Canadian environments without excessively emphasizing Roots clothing as a whole throughout the campaign.

I strongly believe that my communications plan for the Roots Canada’s Best sweater will increase recognition and sales of the brand and will further encourage more customers to visit the Roots website. This plan appeals to a wide audience and gives customers incentive to purchase Roots merchandise.

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