As work boot brand Timberland Pro marks its 20th anniversary, Senior Brand Manager Rebecca Conway talks about growing the brand by supporting today’s skilled workers and connecting with women in the trades.
FN: What has been the biggest change in the work boot market over the past decade?
Rebecca Conway: “When we launched, the market was very traditional, with 6-inch brown leather boots dominating. In the past decade, we’ve seen explosive growth in athletics, driven by increases in warehousing jobs, as well as a style preference among consumers for footwear more reminiscent of what they wear off the job. We’ve also seen the price ceiling for work boots climb. Consumers realize that their footwear is an important investment in their health and well-being on and off the job.”
How is the brand connecting with consumers through outreach programs and sponsorships?
RC: “In May 2018, we signed a pledge with Generation T, a movement powered by brands committed to filling the skilled trades gap. We’re participating in service events around the country aimed at introducing trades to young kids, such as a recent community service event in Pasadena, Calif., where we worked with 300 high schoolers to build bunk beds. One hundred beds will be delivered to the nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace, so that they can be distributed to families in need. By exposing kids to carpentry, we hope to spark their interest in pursuing a skilled trades education and allow them to experience giving back to their community.”
Is there a synergy between the Timberland lifestyle looks and Pro collections?
RC: “We work closely together to make sure we’re consistent across product lines and markets. With a rich history and iconic silhouettes, you can see that influence across the Pro line in families like the Direct Attach, Gorge and Eurohiker. The casual line has also adopted technologies and silhouettes from the Pro line over time, such as Anti-Fatigue Technology.”
Where are the untapped opportunities in the work boot market?
RC: “We anticipate a lot of growth in Europe. We’re relaunching Timberland Pro footwear and apparel at the A+A show in Düsseldorf, Germany, in November. Where you’ll see us set ourselves apart is on sustainability through efforts like ReBOTL, using PET, a recyclable plastic resin in our footwear linings and T-shirts; eco-fabrics such as Cordura Eco fabric; and our commitment to work with only gold- and silver-rated tanneries.”
Timberland Pro has a significant offering of women’s styles. How important is that category ?
RC: “In fall ’17, we relaunched our women’s safety footwear to include more modern styling, slimmer profiles and a fit engineered specifically for a woman’s foot. The response has been very positive, with our female consumer base growing year-over-year. Construction is an industry where women have yet to make significant inroads. We’re supporting nonprofits like Girls@Work, an organization that works with girls in their early teens to teach them how to use tools and build not just furniture but also their confidence.”