Vans can’t skate by on its pre-pandemic reputation
Vans’ streak of robust double-digit annual gains ended with the novel coronavirus pandemic and an expected relatively modest recovery has stoked concerns that the skate brand has fallen out of favor with teens.
The company had been on fire pre-pandemic. Piper Sandler’s semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey in the fall of 2019 ranked Vans as the second favorite footwear brand, cited by 20 percent of teens, below only Nike (42 percent) and above Adidas (nine percent) and Converse (four percent).
The brand’s share slid to 16 percent by Spring 2020 and 12 percent in Fall 2020 amid the pandemic, losing share to Nike, Adidas, Crocs, Dr. Martens and Converse.
Vans’ sales fell 16 percent in its recently-completed fiscal year. For the current fiscal year, sales are expected to generate seven to nine percent growth compared with the pre-pandemic fiscal year, well below gains of 26 percent seen in 2019 and 27 percent in 2018.
On a quarterly call last week, Steve Rendle, CEO of VF Corp, Vans’ parent, said the brand has been disproportionately hurt by restrictions facing its broad store base, many of which are located in California, as well as supply chain delays.
He sees three catalysts returning Vans to double-digit growth.
First, the reopening of stores is expected to fuel demand as physical locations drive higher loyalty member enrollment, greater purchase frequency and higher average order value. “We know that the deep connectivity of Vans stores and associates are a distinct competitive advantage for the brand,” said Mr. Rendle.
A second growth catalyst is the return to normal social usage occasions, such as in-person school, dining out and attending concerts and sporting events, Mr. Rendle said, “We know Vans has remained top of mind for its core consumers who are ready to re-engage with the brand as they return to a normal cadence of lifestyle activities.”
Third, beginning in June, Vans will initiate a cadence of weekly, globally-coordinated drops that marry both product and experiential demand creation to drive energy, excitement and brand heat. “A key learning from the past year has been the importance of flowing new product and associated storytelling to deepen engagement with existing consumers and attract new consumers to the brand,” said Mr. Rendle.
- VF Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year Fiscal 2021 Results; Provides Initial Fiscal 2022 Outlook – VF Corp
- Vans Targets $1 Billion Growth in Revenues and Announces New LXVITM Product Line – VF Corporation release
- Vans Brand Targets $5 Billion in Revenue by Fiscal Year 2023 – VF Corp
- VF Corp (VFC) Q4 2019 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- VF Corp. Can Still Skate With Scuffed Vans – The Wall Street Journal
- Piper Sandler Completes 41st Semi-Annual Generation Z Survey of 7,000 U.S. Teens – Piper Sandler
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has Vans lost some of its cool or is its underperformance a pandemic casualty? What do you think of management’s plans to reignite demand and growth?