Like other footwear brands, Hoka One One underwent a series of changes in the pandemic.
One of the most notable changes was not even discernible from a consumer perspective. Rather, it centered on the way the company ran its essential “milestone meetings.” This change, as outlined by company leaders in a session at Sourcing Journal’s ‘Inflection Point’ Summit this week, changed the way the fast-growing footwear brand brings its product to market.
Before the pandemic, Hoka held regular hours-long meetings called Global Concept Debuts, which often consisted of review, long PowerPoints, and travel to other countries. This series of meetings brought together global teams of designers, developers, product managers, merchandisers, marketers and salespeople to review prototypes, finalize a go-to-market strategy, and ultimately celebrate a launch.
When the pandemic hit, global travel was no longer an option and Hoka needed a solution to stay on track and connected to all teams. The company turned to MakerSights, a software provider for retailers that digitizes the process for cross-functional communication and assortment creation.
“You could no longer rely on traditional in-person meetings to connect, to collaborate, to work together to touch and feel physical product,” said Matt Field, co-founder and president of MakerSights. “And that really created a renewed sense of urgency for everyone to figure out a new way of working and for us it provided this launchpad to really bring capabilities to market that help with the efficiency of decision making.”
Using MakerSights technology, Hoka took its major milestone meetings virtual and was able to offer a new level of alignment across multiple teams.
Hoka specifically utilized MakerSights’ Digital Line Review (DLR) tool, which allows teams to digitally map out assortment decisions. This tool encourages early collaboration in the product-to-market process to ensure that all teams, markets, and merchants can give their input at all stages.
“We gave the markets the ability to absorb the new products, and the new stories, and the strategies on their own terms,” said Hy Rosario said, director of outdoor at Hoka. “So merchants were able to watch the overview videos and assort their products from the work-from-home environment and provide feedback and input via the DLR platform.”
According to Rosario, the DLR tool “increased the efficiency of the alignment process.” But the decision to change this process through digitization wasn’t a simple one.
“Change is not easy and requires a lot of collaboration and trust,” said Rosario.
But defying the norm is second nature to Hoka, which lives in the Deckers family of brands. Hoka initially launched in 2009 as a direct contrast to the barefoot running craze. As Rosario explained, “The Hoka brand DNA is tightly fused with innovating fearlessly.” This mindset, along with a fierce commitment to the consumer, still defines the Hoka of today.
“We’re supremely focused on the consumer,” Rosario said, explaining how this new technology helps the company track these changes quicker than before.
“We’re excited because as this tool evolves, it can really make our global teams more nimble so that we’re not just going speed-to-market as our focus, but also smart-to-market and that’s equally important for Hoka,” he said.