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The North Face: Shared Value Strategy

Case Overview

The North Face sought to develop a shared value strategy to further the company’s outdoor participation efforts in order to drive greater social impact while also creating business value.

The Challenge

The decline in outdoor activity in communities around the world is an issue of grave concern with potentially dangerous multiplier effects on health, the economy, and the environmental movement. In the US alone, participation in nature-based activities such as fishing and camping, has declined 18-25% since the 1980s. Around the world, given the influence of indoor technologies and rapid urbanization, people are spending less time engaged in outdoor activities. This trend is even more pronounced in youth. The 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report reveals over an 11% decline in participation in outdoor activities among American youth age 6 to 17.

Approach & Solutions

The North Face engaged FSG to determine how outdoor participation fits into its core business strategy while creating measurable social impact. To do so, FSG worked with The North Face’s revenue models and business leaders to build a social impact model that enabled the company to identify the value of its shared value opportunity and develop a strategic framework for integrating outdoor participation in to the fabric of the business.

The North Face team brainstormed opportunities across the business for how to align their work in outdoor participation with their ambitious financial goals. Based on our work together, The North Face has begun to develop opportunities within the core business in addition to their traditional work in philanthropy.

About The North Face

The North Face, headquartered in San Leandro, California, is a premier supplier of authentic and technically innovative outdoor apparel and gear. The North Face is owned by VF, the world’s largest apparel company with $1.5B in revenue in 2010.

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