The Coleman Company Inc. is arguably the largest camping brand in the world. With an annual revenue of over $1 billion coming from thousands of products, they are now hitting reset on their infamous brand.
The company says that in addition to the 100 new products they introduced this year, they will be adding another 130 in 2016. Many of the new products integrate new technology with camping gear.
“Our short-term plan is to surprise people,” said Emily Donahue, a Coleman product line manager.
In interviews with Gear Junkie over the last month, Donahue and Mike Otterman, Coleman’s VP of global marketing and merchandising, talked about Coleman’s brand reboot and how it will move forward.
They say that big changes are coming for the company and its products. Basically, rather than being a mid-range, big box store brand, they are aiming to wow people with aesthetic upgrades integrated with new technology.
Their change began back in 2011 when Robert Marcovitch was brought on as Coleman’s new CEO. They also moved their operations from Kansas to Colorado around the same time, hired an almost all-new design team, and reinvented their company culture, Donahue said.
With these changes and direction from their bosses, employees began brainstorming on how they could update the company’s product lines.
“We are refreshing the entire brand portfolio,” said Otterman. “It started in 2014 with upgraded packaging, color, and an increasing speed to market for new products.”
He also added that “just about every product getting a new look” in 2016.
Coleman has been known for years for their products, which include lanterns, camping coolers, drink jugs, canteens, and dozens more iconic items. Part of this visibility has been linked to the green motif seen throughout their products, which just reminds consumers of camping. Another element to Coleman’s success is the nostalgia people get from remembering their childhood memories camping with the same products.
“Consumers talk about their experience before they talk about the product,” he said. “But when they start to talk product it’s ‘grandpa’s stove’ or his lantern,” which a lot of the time may have been a Coleman.
While this may be a key element in the brand’s success, Coleman executives believe that looking at the past will only get them so far. This is why 2016 will be more about taking camping into the future. They are more focused on “premium innovation” this year more than ever before.
Along with technological advancements, new products will have a focus on durability. New products are now put through a two-meter drop test, which is a first for the company. Those who may have experienced a “hit-or-miss” quality in Coleman products should see benefits from this new level of testing.
In addition to new technology and more durable veteran products, they will also revamp their cooler collection. In fact, 2016 will see two new camping coolers from the company: the Ice Age Xtreme 5 Cooler and the Esky Series 85-Quart Cooler. The Ice Age features an LED indicator with a temperature sensor, so that when you push a Coleman logo button, it displays the exact temperature within the cooler. The Esky boasts six days of ice retention in addition to an integrated on the inside.
Donahue says there is certainly a “startup mentality” in the Colorado office, where a team of approximately 40 people design new gear.
“It’s like a ‘billion-dollar startup’ brand,” she said, referring to the new staff. “Coleman has a history of supporting and backing fresh perspective when it comes to designing and making gear.”
In the end, Coleman hopes that the rebrand will bring the company into this generation.
“Coleman is your ‘grandfather’s company’ to many people, with old lanterns and stoves. But that is dwindling off, and we’re trying to get people excited again.”
It’s also not the only technology update for campers this year. A recent event in Portland unveiled an eight-foot camper, with luxury amenities in order to take the camping experience to the next level. With new terms such as “glamping” floating around, neither the camper nor any of the new Coleman products are the first to attempt to make camping a little more luxurious.