Icebreaker sustainability report: Case study
Marketing Case Research and Analysis - Marketing Mix, Sustainability and Competitive Advantage.
This report is conducted to evaluate the marketing approach and strategies used by the Icebreaker company. In the first section of the report, a brief overview of the company has been provided along with an analysis of the mission, vision, and philosophies of the company. Analysis of the performance of the company has also been conducted in the first section of the report. Then, in the second section of the report, the key principles adopted by Icebreaker to attain sustainable marketing practices have been evaluated. Then, in the third section of this report, various marketing mix strategies of the company have been evaluated. Further, in the last section of the report, position and success of the company have been evaluated through marketing positioning analysis.
Icebreaker is a public company incorporated in 1995 by Jeremy Moon to manufacture and supply various clothing products. This company was started with the aim to manufacture various garments and accessories in the most sustainable manner. The company delivers its products to customers through various retail outlets in around 50 countries (Icebreaker, 2019). Philosophies of this company are also based on the principles of animal welfare, sustainability, ethnicity and symbiosis that emphasize on using natural fibers of manufacturing of sustainable clothing ("Philosophy | icebreaker", 2019). The mission statement of the company also emphasizes on offering sustainable products to customers through natural alternatives to synthetics. The vision statement of this company also emphasizes on living with nature and produce sustainable and ethical products. Sales of this company has increased by 25 % and the revenue base of the company in UK has grown by 31 %. Furthermore, the company has achieved an annual growth rate equivalent to 54 % with an increase in sales to around $ 100 million (Siemers, 2014).
Key principles of sustainable marketing of Icebreaker:
Icebreaker is known for high-quality sustainable products due to the manufacturing of all products using natural fibers. Numerous goals of this company also imply that higher sustainability is maintained in various business operations of the company. various sustainability goals of Icebreaker include Life below water, responsible production and consumption., good health and wellbeing, life on land, decent work and economic growth. Achievement of various sustainability goals by Icebreaker provides that Icebreaker serves the need of the present without compromising for the needs of future generations. All production and marketing activities of the company are also performed in the most ethical manner to avoid any form of exploitation of natural resources (Icebreaker, 2019). The triple bottom line approach of Icebreaker also emphasizes on ethical and sustainable manufacturing processes. The three Ps of the company includes people, planet and profitability which helps Icebreaker in achieving social, environment as well as economic goals. Furthermore, mulesing is also prohibited in the organization (Citeseerx.ist.psu.edu, 2007). The following figure highlights the responsibility of the company towards various employees involved in the supply chain:
Furthermore, rising sales and revenue base highlights the achievement of economic objectives by the company. Icebreaker has achieved various environmental goals through higher sustainability and care for nature practices ("Icebreaker's sustainability", 2019). Following figure shows the environmental responsibilities of icebreaker:
Marketing mix strategies of Icebreaker:
Product: Icebreaker manufactures various clothing items and accessories such as socks, gloves, neckwear and headwear for a customer using natural fiber, organic cotton, recycled polyester and merino wool. This implies that various sustainable raw materials are used in the manufacturing of clothes. 84 % of fibre used in production of clothes is natural and only 16 % of raw material comprises of synthetic fibre. Packaging of all the products is also done in most sustainable manner. Further, the sustainable manufacturing processes of the company helps in producing soft, fire-resistant, washable, renewable and recyclable products ("Icebreaker - Merino Wool Clothing for Outdoor and Performance Sports", 2019). All these factors help in enhancing the longevity of products and maintaining the highest quality of products.
Pricing: Icebreaker has adopted a stable pricing strategy for its highly sustainable and quality products. This pricing model of the company aims at reducing volatility in pricing structures. However, premium pricing is charged by the company in comparison to its competitors due to better quality and sustainable products. Furthermore, the company takes in consideration all the costs of externalities (Poufinas, 2011).
Promotion: Social media campaigns and e-mail marketing strategies of the company aims at promoting various sustainable products among customers. The company has maintained effective public relations with the aim to increase awareness of its products among customers. Holy sheep blog of the company also is one of the effective promotional tools where every news related to the product of the activity of the company are shared at a regular interval (Outdoor Industry Association, 2019). Along with this, the company publishes various short videos on YouTube to provide a clear idea to a customer about the mission and vision of the company along with detail on various products of the company.
Distribution: The manufacturing of various clothing and accessory products by Icebreaker is done in various countries such as New Zealand, China and USA. Furthermore, the distribution of products is done over more than 4700 stores in 50 countries. To maintain sustainability in distribution practices, Icebreaker has launched water-soluble bag. The company has around 2579 wholesale accounts, eCommerce in 23 countries and 45 icebreaker stores. The logistics and supply management system of the company includes a direct relationship with 46 suppliers across 63 factories. Further, Icebreaker emphasises on developing strong relationship with suppliers (Farrer and Fraser, 2011). The company sources its fibers through various long term future contracts. Distribution of products in various countries has increased the effectiveness and profitability of the company and also helped in strengthening the global position of the company. Following figure shows the vehicle used by a company to ship its products at various locations.
The logistic processes of the company include the distribution of products through land, air and sea transport. Since 2016, Icebreaker is making serious efforts to reduce the use of air freight.
Market positioning analysis of Icebreaker:
The target customers of the company can be categorized on the basis of demographic characteristics on the basis of age or gender. The company manufactures various clothing, socks, and accessories for men, women and children. The main competitors of the company include Filson, Smartwool and Ibex outdoor clothing that is involved in manufacturing various woolen or luggage based products. The profitability of Icebreaker is higher than all the three companies due to highly sustainable and quality products. following graphical representation shows the position occupied by Icebreaker in the target market:
The above graphical representation highlights the position of Icebreaker in the clothing industry. sustainable and ethical manufacturing activities of company through use of natural fibre have helped in improving the competitive position of the company. the company is strictly against any mulesing or animal harming acts which makes it different from its competitors. Also, sourcing of natural fibre for production purposes is key differentiating feature for the company. The clothing product features of the company are also different from various other competitors. Washable, soft and longevity feature differentiates the product of the company over its competitors.
Assessment of success of company:
Sustainable production and distribution processes of the company highlights the successful marketing strategies of the company (Gordon, Carrigan and Hastings, 2011). sustainable practices have helped icebreakers in protecting the environment and various natural resources of environment. Success to achievement of higher sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices can be measured through the achievement of various sustainable goals by the company (Le Blanc, 2015). Avoidance of use of various chemicals also helps the company in achieving various other sustainability goals in organization. Various initiatives of company also emphasize on achieving higher safety of employees. However, despite the use of various natural fibers, there is still use of synthetic fiber by the Icebreaker. Also, there is lack of customer awareness regarding various products of company. various pre fluorinated compounds are still used by the company. The premium pricing strategy of the company may result in a lower competitive strength of the company.
Recommendations for company:
On the basis of detailed analysis of competitive position and sustainable practices of Icebreaker, some of the recommendations for further improvement have been devised as follows:
• All synthetic fiber consumption should be replaced with the use of natural fiber.
• Packaging of various clothing products can be improved to strengthen the competitive position
• Brand awareness among customers can be improved through various other promotional activities (Bulmer and Buchanan-Oliver, 2010).
• The use of Pre fluorinated compounds should also be avoided in organization.
• Reasonable pricing strategies such as markup pricing strategy can also be adapted to maintain market share in the industry.
Detailed analysis of various activities of Icebreaker revealed that Icebreaker is a highly sustainable cloth manufacturing company that has successfully established its work relations at the global level through higher participation of employees in the organization. sustainable and quality clothing products of the company helps in achieving various sustainable goals in organization and also helps in attracting a large number of customers. However, various measures such as avoiding the use of pre fluorinated carbon can also be adopted by the company to strengthen its competitive position.