December 28, 2020— The South Tyrolean Oberalp Group is a heavyweight in the outdoor market with its brands Salewa, Dynafit, Wild Country, Evolv and Pomoca. With the newly founded mountain sports brand LaMunt, initiator Ruth Oberrauch wants to focus solely on women. This is a first because this kind of target group focus is rare in mountain sports.
Last month, the Oberalp Group presented the new mountain sports brand on the occasion of its “Oberalp Convention” – the name of the group’s international sales meeting, which of course had to take place digitally in these times.
LaMunt is Ladin and means ‘mountain,’ and in the old Italian language, mountain is not masculine but feminine. And this also outlines the focus of the brand: It dares to place a new, female view on the mountain and mountain sports. Although women are no longer a minority in mountain sports, their ideas and needs are given far too little attention by many brands, thinks Ruth Oberrauch, the brand initiator and daughter of company founder Heiner Oberrauch. We asked her what will be different about the brand when it goes on sale for the first time in the 2021/22 winter season.
What does a sports brand for women have to do differently than a brand for men or both genders? What is the difference?
LaMunt is a mountain sports brand by women for women, which means we think specifically about women’s needs and incorporate solutions into our products in the best possible way. Our product team consists of women who bring in their personal experience, but we also involve potential female users from the very first minute and proactively ask about their wishes and needs.
How exactly do you go about that?
To give a concrete example: We have lengthened the lower back part of our trousers so that this area is more protected. Because women – as we found out in a workshop with 25 female mountain sports enthusiasts and nature lovers – want more protection here, so that there is no gap in this area. We have lined the inside of this higher back part with a Merino Tencel fabric and thus ensured additional wearing comfort, not only because the material dries faster.
A special topic is certainly also that of fit. If you develop a purely women’s product from the outset, the approach to design is already quite different and you can respond more specifically to the shapes of the female body.
Another concern for us is to create a feminine look with LaMunt without resorting to the usual stereotypical ‘female’ colours.
Why does the mountain sports market need a new women’s brand? Aren’t you competing with other brands of the Oberalp Group, which also have strong female shares?
More and more women are on the move in the mountains; almost 50 percent of all active outdoor enthusiasts in the USA and Europe are women. This is also confirmed by the consistent sales of textile products for women within the Oberalp Group, which underlines that many women already actively live the mountain experience. The Oberalp Group is already represented in the market with five mountain sports brands and specialises in the mountain experience. We want to address consumers as specifically as possible. With LaMunt, we are targeting the self-confident woman who is looking for a little more fitness and feminine fits without having to sacrifice functionality. We appeal to women who want to experience the mountains as a place for their personal time off and for inspiration.
How does one have to address women as customers today so that they feel represented? Which topics are important?
Women see themselves as powerful and strong, just like men. The new women on the mountains are authentic, genuine, natural, sensitive. But also tasteful, lively and strong. They explore unusual places in the mountains and carry their new feminine values into the world of mountain sports, which has historically been dominated by men.
You did a semiotic study on women and their perspective on mountains. What was the result?
The semiotic study on women and mountain sports, commissioned by the Oberalp Group together with Karma’s Behavioural Insights, one of the most internationally recognised behavioural research institutes, revealed even more. Women no longer see themselves as appendages when they are out in the mountains and no longer want to be pinned down to this old concept. They do not want to be reduced to the typical characteristics of women. They feel their bodies are just as capable, but they also stand by their needs. They want to express their female body through their clothing on the mountain, but they don’t want to sacrifice functionality. This is at the top of their list when it comes to mountain sports clothing and equipment, followed by the desire for comfort and fit.
To what extent has the target group’s – women’s – behaviour changed? How do you integrate that into the brand?
We also observed that women are increasingly travelling independently and also in women-only groups. At LaMunt, we have included women in the conceptualisation and development of new product ideas from the very beginning. Already in January, before the start of the product development phase, we organised a two-day workshop with real, authentic women who are active in the mountains. Now, as part of the launch, the LaMunt Crew will also be introduced – women with a passion for the mountains and design are invited to critically and actively shape product development, network with each other and share their love of mountain sports.
How will the new brand be distributed?
We are convinced that online will play an increasingly important role and will therefore expand this channel from the beginning. On the other hand, a brand like LaMunt needs a physical place where it can be experienced and felt. Accordingly, it is important for us to find partners in retail who believe in our vision. So we are also looking for partners among stationary stores who want to walk a common path with us. In doing so, we rely on a rather exclusive distribution policy.
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