Using Design-Thinking to Help an Innovative Brand Reach it's Full Potential

We explored how the innovative and rising power sports brand Volcon can become a household name.

— Client

Independent Case Study

— Focus

Design & Strategy

— Challenge

We challenged ourselves to create a business & marketing strategy for the incredible Volcon powersports and explore how they can grow their brand during a pivotal time in the industry.

— Outcome

We believe partnerships and product collaborations with influential and respected names like REI & Patagonia would dynamically grow Volcon's reach and influence amongst high-value customers. These efforts can be supported by an interactive new popup that celebrates those product collabs.

— Impact

GoArchitect is an integrated design, strategy, and investment firm. We create independent case studies like this to analyze future opportunities and interesting companies in the markets we are passionate about.

Disclaimer: GoArchitect and/or its executives own stock in Volcon. This case study was unsolicited and without compensation.

Proposal

Amongst the turmoil of the Covid pandemic, an increased affinity towards nature and the outdoors has emerged. The unexpected shifts in working and living habits has coincided with advancements in electric mobility and consumer expectations towards sustainability.

Volcon sits at the intersection of these cultural and economic movements with the potential to have a positive ecological impact and strengthen a growing business. At GoArchitect we are a design and community-driven team that seeks clarity and application in a complex world.

We launched this case study with a very simple question, “How might an outdoor brand like Volcon become a household name?”

We began by identifying Volcon’s target audiences and studying how we might expand Volcon’s reach in the outdoor market. Whether the customer is a seasoned outdoor veteran or a novice, the common denominator is that they visit outdoor stores like REI and spend heavily in this category.

Throughout this case study, we will outline various strategies and initiatives that can strengthen Volcon’s appeal and brand to a passionate and ecologically-driven consumer.

Foster Partnerships with outdoor stores & brands to expand Volcon’s exposure beyond powersport enthusiasts.

Volcon can leverage the passionate outdoor community by partnering with outdoor stores like REI and respected brands like Patagonia, North Face, or Black Diamond.

With outdoor brands, Volcon can collaborate on the creation of accessories that fit upcoming and current vehicles. These accessories can correlate to specific activities and outdoor endeavours that might benefit from the quiet power of a Volcon vehicle.

Patagonia is a prime example of a partner with the potential for outsized impact. Their sterling reputation in the outdoor recreation market can open up Volcon’s products to a entirely new audience. Product collaborations with a brand like this can literally take Volcon to new heights with the potential for new-found uses in mountaineering and other extreme sports.

Develop a modular popup that can feature product collaborations in a retail and event environment.

In order to fully take advantage of partnering with brands like Patagonia, we propose the creation of a modular popup installation that can be customized and installed in outdoor stores like REI or at live events. This dynamic retail display will feature the partner brand’s accessories paired with a Volcon Grunt or Brat. The two types of products can play off each other to tell a story to the customer of their next adventure.

The idea is to sell the vision of what is possible with a Volcon and help the consumer see themselves on the edge of adventure; using the products they respect alongside a powerful new type of vehicle. This modular popup can even be used at outdoor events like Overland Expo and Off-Road Expo to give guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience that Volcon vehicles provide.

Use the popup as an onramp to an immersive digital campaign that helps customers engage with Volcon.

In addition to celebrating retail partnerships, the popup can invite customers to learn more about Volcon, its mission, and its products. We propose expanding the Volcon app to include customer interaction and engagement elements centered around the concepts of Learning, Sensory, and Community.

These three components will all celebrate Volcon’s unique selling point of being an innovator and invite the potential customer to purchase the product in the store, join an REI Trip, or sign up for an email list for a new customer journey.

COMMUNITY

Visitors can see a curated selection of social media posts and videos from current owners that provide a unique insight into what owning a Volcon and being part of that community is really like.

LEARNING

QR codes may be placed on different vehicle parts. Scanning the codes will take customers to videos explaining how that part works and how that specific invention will enhance their next adventure.

SENSORY

Customers can watch these videos, perhaps even using augmented reality features on their phones, to see what is possible with a Volcon. These videos can be modified for different climates based on the physical location or context of the popup.

Opportunity

Why would strategic partnerships with retailers like REI and brands like Patagonia can help Volcon reach an important growth audience?

There is an opportunity for a broader engagement strategy outside of traditional powersports.

The desire to get outside and explore is strong and in many ways stronger in a post-Covid world. People’s inclination towards outdoor recreation has increased and by extension, the electric powersport industry has grown.

As Volcon seeks to grow further, there is an opportunity to partner with outdoor retailers like REI who have spent decades building a strong customer bond and reputation. What makes REi unique is its established place in the market and focused offering of high-quality products to high-value customers.

Beyond traditional products, it also has a robust trip and travel strategy that features trip itineraries for outdoor adventure. Volcon can join this ecosystem and have partnered trips with REI where the Volcon Grunt, Brat, or Stag is the star of the show. These partner trips can be a key marketing element as modern consumers gravitate towards experiences instead of traditional purchasing. It also sets the stage for product collaborations like bags, shoes, and other accessories that enhance the experience.

There is an opportunity to engage high-value and ecologically minded customers who visit retailers like REI.

We know there is a growing demand for eco-friendly and noise-free vehicles. Glidehouse Insights estimates a 36.6% compound annual growth for the global electric powersports market between 2022 to 2031.

Volcon is perfectly poised to take advantage of this growth. The challenge remains how to effectively and inexpensively reach this audience.

Since Volcon has stopped all D2C sales, partnering with retailers like REI and other companies that are outside of the traditional powersports networks, could be an effective way to reach a new subset of customers.

Business

By  appealing  to  the  adventurer  in  every  person  and  partnering  with  respected  outdoor brands, Volcon has the opportunity to leverage decades of built-in social capital.

We can enhance Volcon’s brand through strategic collaborations with respected outdoor brands like Patagonia, North Face, and Black Diamond.

These outdoor brands have spent decades and millions building a dedicated and high-value customer base. These brands do not have the technical expertise or mission to pursue electric mobility and their existing relationships primarily focus on traditional road and mountain biking.

As a younger company, Volcon can use its position as an innovator in electric powersports to bring something new to the table and leapfrog competitors like Polaris.

A successful collaboration could be based around the Volcon Brat or Grunt and the various accessories or add-ons that can enhance its utility for adventure sports. Volcon already does a little bit of this for hunting but can expand to include a broader range of outdoor recreation activities

The collaboration can be based on high-margin accessories like bags, shoes and survival gear. The popup display is flexible enough to showcase different sports, geographies, and interests. With the proper agreements in place, customers who buy these accessories can also be incentivized to go on an REI Trip which will allow them to experience the Brat or Grunt in a natural environment.

By pursuing a retail partnership with REI, Volcon can leverage an established consumer network and quickly expand its reach.

Just like the premier outdoor brands, REI has spent decades building a network of loyal customers. REI has 168 locations in 39 states, with a growing community of about 21.5 million. Their stores are heavily trafficked and feature natural synergies for Volcon products.

REI is missing something however, powersports. They currently do not sell anything similar to the Volcon Grunt. This is changing however, as e-bikes have steadily grown in sales and now command a considerable portion of the physical footprint of most REI stores.

Volcon has an opportunity to make an impression in this space by presenting customers with a familiar product through the Brat but also an engaging and powerful product through the Grunt. Both of these products can be purchased and shipped or can connect with REI Trips. These trips can be an incredible way to introduce customers to the power of Volcon’s products, bring in individual sales, and even represent a fleet sale account for Volcon itself.

By investing in the modular popup, Volcon can also present either of these vehicles in a way that connects to the local adventure culture.

Process

While considering the challenges and opportunities faced by Volcon, the GoArchitect team sought to think differently about who the core and future audiences are for Volcon’s products.

Who is our target audience?

We considered outdoor customer types under 3 broad categories: aspirational achievements (rock climbing, mountain biking), weekend explorations (bird watching, camping, hiking, driving/cycling around experiencing nature) and outdoor work. We sought to widen the scope beyond powersport enthusiasts and seek new high-value customer personas.

How can we engage customers and help them holistically connect with the product?

We wanted the audience to have a holistic experience with the product; something beyond seeing it “on a shelf” or webpage. This involved understanding current trends and practices of experiential retail to design Volcon’s retail popup as a collection of immersive experiences.

We identified 3 types of experiences: sensory, learning and community.

How might we make Volcon products approachable to a diverse range of people?

We believe the solution lies in product collaborations. Each of our customer personas visit outdoor stores like REI to buy products like bags, shoes, jackets, and camping gear.

By creating a sales strategy and materials for this passionate group of customers, Volcon can reach a largely untapped audience.

How can we effectively engage customers?

Our research into experiential retail and customer engagement formed the basis for our proposed modular popup and digital strategy. It is designed to form Volcon’s logo when viewed from one angle, has a designated area for placing a Volcon Grunt or Brat, and shelving for partnered accessories.

This popup blends the physical and digital with QR codes that invite a potential customer to learn more about the product and how they can be part of their next adventure. We see this popup as the first step in a customer’s journey to purchasing a Volcon vehicle.

Closing

We believe Volcon is poised to be a household name. Its products are dynamic, engaging, and unique in the market. It has the spirit of adventure built into the brand and with a few strategic moves can connect with millions of high-value customers in the outdoor recreation space.

We believe the best way to do this is by focusing on partnerships with influential and respected names in the outdoor world. Brands like REI, Patagonia, and others that have developed widespread recognition and respect.

The process of reaching these customers can start with product collaborations and showcasing them with an experiential retail popup that helps potential customers learn more about Volcon and see themselves in the driver’s seat.

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Disclaimer: GoArchitect and/or its executives own stock in Volcon. This case study was unsolicited and without compensation.

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