Kristin Harrer, the Global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Vans, assumed her role in April 2021, amidst the challenges posed by the global pandemic. Harrer, who previously served as CMO at Dollar Shave Club and held leadership positions at Samsung and Nike, brings over 20 years of experience in marketing and a passion for fostering creativity.
In her first year at Vans, Harrer initiated the "These Projects Are Ads for Creativity" campaign as a response to the pandemic's impact on artists and creators. Instead of a traditional global ad campaign, Vans redirected the budget to support 80 creators worldwide, providing them a platform to showcase their work and make statements about creativity during challenging times.
Vans, a brand known for its deep roots in local creative communities globally, has a mission to empower individuals to discover themselves through creativity. Harrer emphasizes the importance of authenticity and meaningful storytelling in connecting with the brand's diverse consumer base.
Under Harrer's leadership, Vans has embraced innovative approaches to marketing. The brand ventured into the metaverse with "Vans World" on Roblox, garnering nearly 51 million visits and 6 million hours played as of December 2021. She sees these digital initiatives as ways to connect with consumers where they are and create immersive experiences that align with Vans' values of creativity, connectivity, and self-expression.
Despite the pandemic's difficulties in the retail sector, Vans reported 7% global growth in the second quarter of the 2022 fiscal year, thanks in large part to a 35% increase in direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales. The brand's online presence was further enhanced through initiatives like "Channel 66," a Vans.com and Twitch livestream promoting music and culture.
Harrer also sheds light on Vans' commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). The company has set ambitious goals, including increasing black representation in the headquarters workforce and achieving 25% BIPOC directors by 2025. Vans actively incorporates DE&I into its marketing, with campaigns like "Together As Ourselves" for LGBTQ Pride and initiatives like the NAACP-sponsored "Creative Sole Scholarship."
Moreover, Vans has pledged to address sustainability concerns, with initiatives like "Tomorrow Starts Today" focusing on reducing single-use plastics and cutting carbon emissions by 30% by 2030. She emphasizes the brand's long-standing commitment to environmental consciousness, including shoe recycling programs and sustainable collections launched on Earth Day.
Looking ahead, she envisions a future where Vans continues to be a global brand known for its creativity and uniqueness. The brand's new mission, centered around creative self-expression and self-discovery, will guide marketing strategies, ensuring that every initiative aligns with Vans' core values.
Harrer's first year as Vans CMO has been characterized by a blend of innovation, community support, and a steadfast commitment to the brand's cultural and creative heritage. Vans remains poised for continued growth and impact under her leadership.