Brand Repositioning for Category Leadership
Aspen/Snowmass is the brand name for four ski/snowboard areas owned by the Aspen Skiing Company. However, the upscale and elite image of the town of Aspen had become a weakness for the resort, as many skiers viewed Aspen/Snowmass as expensive, hard to get to, and so glitzy as to be unapproachable. As a result, visitors and skier days had declined for several years and the resort had been drawn into a pricing war on lift tickets with Vail resorts. Recognizing that a significant change in direction was needed, they retained Chris Malone and his firm to assist their turnaround efforts.
After reviewing the resort’s business model and all available market data, a brand relationship research study was designed and implemented to better understand what segments of destination skiers existed and how Aspen/Snowmass could appeal to them more effectively. The resulting data and analysis revealed that certain skier segments still found the resort very appealing, regardless of price. In addition, Aspen/Snowmass’s remote location could be turned to their advantage by recasting competitors as “crowded, interstate highway resorts”.
An entirely new brand relationship strategy was recommended for Aspen/Snowmass, with the tagline “The Difference is Night and Day”, highlighting the superior skiing and nightlife that the resort offered compared to competitors.
After implementing Chris’ recommendations across all resort operations, Aspen/Snowmass achieved remarkable results. At the outset of the next ski season, Aspen/Snowmass was rated the No. 1 resort in the United States by Skiing magazine. This was the resort’s first top rating ever, up from No. 4 the previous year. Market share increased significantly and earnings increased 36%, while competitors experienced revenue declines despite their deep discount pricing.
“Chris’ work for us identified breakthrough insights that completely changed the way we thought about our business. We refocused our efforts across our entire company to clearly and consistently deliver on this new brand promise. I’d strongly recommend Chris Malone and his firm to any company seeking to understand its customers better and use that information to accelerate revenue growth.”
John Norton, Chief Operating Officer
Aspen Skiing Company