Cat Footwear’s New Customers Carry Science Degrees, Not Hammers

Cat Footwear is headed in fresh directions this year.

“We’re rethinking the landscape of what it means to win in the modern work world,” said Janice Tennant, who in July joined Cat as chief marketing officer, along with new brand president Chris Hufnagel, a veteran of parent company Wolverine World Wide Inc.

Together, the management team held focus groups, visited job sites, sat with consumers in their living rooms and engaged in mobile research.

A key finding was the need for a fresh kind of boot. While jobs in manufacturing and construction have typically defined the work sector, there’s a new segment of workers armed with degrees in construction management and environmental science who require footwear that can stand up to wet, mucky conditions. “They don’t want to be tied to a desk job,” said Tennant.

The result was the Stormers series: a three-pattern collection of steel- and soft-toe rubber boots with enhanced outsole grip. The line is targeted to workers in farming, botany and archeology, and retails for $105 to $130.

Going forward, the brand is also applying its innovations in the work footwear sector to a companion line of lifestyle products. “We’re going to see synergy between those,” said Tennant. “It’s about the durability and reliability you get from workboots that consumers also want to see in the lifestyle side. Those high standards guide and inspire us.”

Hufnagel added, “We were looking for cracks in the market and new growth [opportunities].”

The brand enjoyed a stretch of gains prior to the initiative. During Wolverine’s fourth-quarter conference call in February, president and CEO Blake Krueger noted that Cat — the fourth-largest brand in the firm’s portfolio — experienced strong growth in the work category and expanded its U.S. market share during the three-month period.

The brand’s 2018 revenues grew mid-single digits, with high-single-digit growth predicted for this year, driven by strength across all channels, regions and product categories.

Watch this video of today’s top celebrities in workboots.

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