Over four decades, MEC has grown from 6 members to 3.9 million. In this time, our Co-op and our membership have undergone radical transformation: demographic shifts, urbanization, and profound cultural and technological changes. To stay in step with members and remain relevant to their lives, it's time to revitalize elements of the MEC brand.
MEC's New Look and Feel
People have powerful personal motivations for being active outdoors: challenge, camaraderie, exploration, or just feeling healthy and fit. Bringing these motivations to life through words, symbols, and images allows everyone to see themselves as part of MEC. Every expression of our brand is designed to inspire Canadians to be active outdoors: in backcountry settings or places nearer to home.
The new design of the MEC logo is bolder, cleaner, and it can be placed more consistently on all types of products. It allows us to incorporate images, video, and portraits, yet it is still recognizable. Over four decades, the activities our members do and where they spend time outside has shifted. The new logo provides a more vibrant visual indication of that diversity.
Most members refer to us as MEC, and we use it ourselves, so we're using the acronym in the logo. You can pronounce it MEC to rhyme with trek, or pronounce each letter in M.E.C. You can also call us Mountain Equipment Co-op, or just the Co-op. It's up to you.
Our name remains Mountain Equipment Co-operative. We are legally incorporated as a co-operative and are bound by co-op rules. You must be a member to shop at MEC, and to become a member costs $5, the same as it did in 1971.
Timing and Rollout of Brand Elements in 2013
MEC-brand products with the new logo will appear in stores and on our website around July 1. You'll see our existing logo on products for a while too. We will gradually sell through the gear that's currently in stores, and transition to the new logo as we design new pieces and place new orders.
The rollout of external store signs occurs in September, 2013. You'll see the new brand elements applied to store interiors in Toronto, Montreal (Marché Central) and North Vancouver in September, at the same time as they appear in a national promotional campaign. We'll update our other stores throughout 2013, but as much as possible we'll coordinate the rollout with scheduled maintenance and planned renovations. We'll redesign and update our website and mobile app in September.
We plan to repurpose materials such as interior signs, as much as possible. And we'll use our existing stock of any printed materials, such as forms or packaging, before creating anything new.
And the Mountain?
Our logo with a mountain and our full name was created in 1974 to mark our catalogues and our line of Co-op Cruiser Backpacks. To identify smaller products (shoes, sunglasses) we created different logos with just the letters: MEC. Over time, we added versions to fit the rounded head tubes of MEC bikes, versions for zipper pulls, for reflective elements, and we developed unique logos to indicate products that contain recycled and repurposed materials. The colours, fonts, and relative sizes of all these elements have all been tweaked over the years.
While we have created many different logos, the most consistent element among them was the mountain. For many members it is familiar, even iconic, but it does not reflect the whole of what MEC offers. We provide products and services to support all members, regardless of where their adventures take place or what motivates them to be active.
Evolving Product Assortments
Many people associate MEC with the climbing, mountaineering, and backpacking gear that we first supplied in 1971. But as early as 1973, we also carried equipment for cross-country skiing. We added bike commuting gear in 1978, the same year we brought in canoes and kayaks. Telemark skis arrived in 1983 and our first backcountry splitboard appeared in 2000. As members started to run trails, we added trail runners in 1998, and road running gear in 2002. Bikes came in 2010, paddleboards in 2011 and triathlon suits in 2013. The emphasis within any of these product categories is always to provide a considered mix of items that perform for a specific use and that provide the blend of quality and value that members expect.
In recent years, we have made focused changes to broaden our product assortment to complement the way members train through road cycling, yoga, and running. We've improved the fit and colour palette of our apparel lines and increased technology and e-commerce capacity to stay in step with how people shop and access information. Our technical apparel and hardgoods assortments retain their long-standing importance, and are supported by the high level of expertise and investment.
Feedback and Input from Members
As our mission is to inspire and enable everyone to lead active outdoor lifestyles, we listen carefully to what members tell us through surveys, activity preferences, and purchases. In 2012, we saw a strong increase in sales, and 70% of the increase came from products we introduced in the last three years (bikes, yoga, and road running). At the same time, 2012 marked the best sales year ever in our climbing, whitewater paddling, and backcountry skiing departments.
Using our events website, we linked members with over 40 road running races and 350 separate events: festivals, training sessions, and group rides and runs across Canada. More than 7,000 people took part in 2012.
We regularly collect input from members. In the past year, 92% of members rate our gear as good or excellent and almost 85% are satisfied or very satisfied with MEC. We hope to sustain and even improve upon these results in the years ahead.