Element’s Julien Duval Explains Growing Market Share While Remaining Relevant To Core

Element have been working tirelessly in recent years to provide retailers with support and products that stand out from an increasingly noisy crowd, not just for their collaborations and product quality, but also for their go-to-market strategies which are now paying great dividends at wholesale. SOURCE talks with Julien Duval, VP Global Marketing for Element, to see how the company has performed in the past 12 months and how they are working to stay ahead of the ever changing market.

Portrait Julien Duval low

 Julien Duval

How has Element performed over past 12 months and what have been the highlights? 
Element continues to be a leading brand within both of our segmented channels – Action Sports and Urban Lifestyle. The hard work the EU-based team has done these past couple of years is paying off beyond the European market and we have successfully expanded our reach beyond the specialty core skateboarding and the broader action sports segments, all the while retaining our relevancy and authenticity. We are now positioned as a key brand within the Urban Lifestyle market.

We have some rad product stories dropping in the next couple of months – collaborations with Keith Haring, Polaroid Originals, Griffin Studio. We also have some rad core skateboarding initiatives through Thrasher and their infamous King Of The Road and the release of our much anticipated global skateboarding video project PEACE.

What have been the biggest changes in your wholesale market in Europe over the past 12 months?
The market has been going through a lot of changes these past couple years and we have seen this accelerating more recently. The industry is at a tipping point where anything can happen overnight – literally – with new trends, new brand entrants, strategic shifts coming in, it’s all colliding rapidly out there.

Element has the stability, creativity and agility to foresee and respond to any risks or opportunities. We are focusing on three consumer types and two generations across both genders:

The consumers are the Core Skateboarder / Urban Woodsman / Trend Setter and the generations are Gen Z and the Millennials.
Our Design and Marketing focuses on these three consumer profiles who sit at the top of our segmentation pyramid. This strategy creates a halo effect influencing the lower tiers’ consumers.

Element's Yohann Storez and Julien Duval

Element’s Yohann Storez and Julien Duval

How are you combining wholesale and direct to benefit both the bottom line and long term retail partners?
We strongly believe in the omni-channel strategy in order to secure the best in class brand experience to all consumers. The strategy explained above is at the heart of our wholesale and Direct To Consumer operations. The response has been tremendous and has allowed us to strengthen our relationships with our wholesale and franchise partners.

How are you differentiating your brand between core and lifestyle?
We have introduced some major brand initiatives starting Spring and Summer 2018. The first one was to merge the Spring and Summer seasons together and offer our partners a six months visibility on the brand programs. We are now able to come to the buying table with not only sample products but also with full visibility on marketing campaign playbooks including final creative assets including videos. The second one was the implementation of our marketplace segmentation strategy around two key channels and four tiers. The third component was the introduction of our Heat Story concept, a program which allowed us to bring cross merch stories built around the three brand principles on a monthly basis.

How are you working with core skate retail to promote the brand?
Element has long term relationship with key core skate stores and we have been building bespoke or limited programs specifically for them. The most recent was the Jacky Jacky project we created together with European Pro rider Phil Zwijsen. The response has been amazing and created a global shock wave including an exclusive Thrasher online video feature.

Element's SS19 Griffin Collection

Element’s SS19 Griffin Collection

What are the benefits of being a core skate brand when selling to the more lifestyle-oriented stores?
The current global appropriation of skateboarding culture is an opportunity to any skateboarding company out there, clearly. We are in a positive cycle with skateboarding culture being embraced by the mainstream on all levels. Be it through ViceLand and the broadcasting of Thrasher’s King Of The Road, or premium skate brands collaborating with luxury houses, or vertical retailers using skateboarding identity and codes in their seasonal campaigns. Skateboarding is at the heart of the global youth culture movement today.

Additionally, we have created Future Nature, a special platform to expand on two of our brand principles – skateboarding and nature. For the fourth time for SS19, we have partnered up with the UK based design studio Griffin Studio to create a collaboration which elevates the brand to the forefront of technical urban outerwear. The collection incorporates outdoor utilitarian design elements with urban versatility.

What do you see as the key opportunities for the brand over the next three years?
The opportunity is to continue to be a leading brand within the action sports and core skateboarding markets and expand further more in the Urban Lifestyle channel.

Our strategy is to continue being a positive force at the forefront of the global skateboarding culture through the avenues of skateboarding, the arts and nature.

We want to turn up the volume and bring that message and consumer experience to a broader audience while maintaining our skateboarding culture, integrity and creativity.

Element's SS19 Griffin Collection

Element’s SS19 Griffin Collection

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