“Today I saw an entrepreneur cry – for the decision he made for the good of us all, of our families and of the community in which we live. It was a tremendously beautiful moment of great humanity. I hope it serves as an example for others and that it helps to stop the infection. The economic damage will be incalculable, the return will be tough but we will also climb this peak. For that, there will be time, but for now, we are all at home and we will win this battle together even if divided. “Luca Mich
Thus reads a social post on 12 March 2020, published by Luca Mich, Marketing & Communication Manager of La Sportiva, an Italian world leader in climbing footwear and clothing. A decision taken by the owner Lorenzo Delladio, three months ago. He was about to close production, offices and shops, one week earlier than the government decrees, out of a sense of responsibility towards his employees and the whole community.
Mich posted this just as the owner, Lorenzo Delladio took the emotional decision to close production out of a sense of responsibility towards his employees and the whole community.
“We all have to do our part”
During the period of lockdown, of “onlife” experience for employees and athletes, of changes in mental and productive paradigms and as we keep a socially acceptable distance from each other, Luca Mich took us behind the scenes of La Sportiva, to tell us how the leading outdoor company has dealt with the social, health and economic emergency with resilience.
“It was a difficult period, especially for management. La Sportiva is a family-run company that has solid foundations in the economic and social fabric of the community of the Valle di Fiemme in Trentino. The small artisan workshop that La Sportiva was in the 1930s, is today the most significant economic generator in this valley with over 360 employees. It is easy to imagine the consequential social pressure on the shoulders of the Delladio family and in particular of the CEO Lorenzo Delladio.”
Knowing this, Lorenzo left last on March 13, deciding to close the company – but this announcement to the staff didn’t go without commotion.
“My grandfather had not closed in times of war, but the risk for this community is too high, so I don’t feel like we can continue.”Lorenzo Delladio
From that moment on, there was a sense of reciprocity triggered between the company and workers that that was never so strong. A communion that led us to work together with the view to restarting – After about two weeks, Delladio chose to reconvert part of the production to produce surgical masks with certified tissue to be supplied to the Trentino health system through a supply of 55,000 pieces to the Civil Protection of Trento. At that moment, the company decided to put itself at the service of the Trentino community – also giving work to a task force of 20 employees at a very difficult time for them.
This action was followed by a new proposal to the market. Born from simple environmental consideration, as the surgical masks that are in such widespread demand today are highly pollutive, dry non-recyclable, waste products. The challenge that Delladio has therefore put to the research and development team, has been to create a sustainable, washable, anti-bacterial and reusable mask that also has an interchangeable filter element. Therefore, these masks have a protective efficacy of a PPF1 mask.
Within a few weeks, the product had a name and was being tested. Thus Stratos Mask was born – an attempt to turn a problem into an opportunity – an attitude that the company has been pursuing since 1928 and which is well summarised in the company ethos “Innovation with passion”.
Today, the masks are a much sought after accessory and their production has guaranteed the involvement of an entire production line – which probably, in its absence, would have stopped or slowed production significantly. The objective of the company, at this stage is very clear: to keep all jobs and be able to pay all wages at the end of the month.
At the same time, the company also made other ethical business choices. About 80% of the innovations in the pipeline for the Spring Summer 21 season have been moved to 2022 – particularly in the clothing area. This choice aims to support the network of multi-brand stores, through which La Sportiva products are distributed. We want to assist the shop owners who found themselves with full warehouses and the inability to sell for 2/3 months, both in Italy and abroad. The aim was to allow shop owners to carry over products and allow them to trade successfully without relying on sales efforts such as wild discounts into the summer period.
It’s important to remember the difficulties brick & mortar networks face – therefore, the company has also decided to keep its eCommerce open as the only sales channel in the lockdown period. We did this without accelerating digital campaigns or free shipping promotions, so as not to penalise those who do not have an eCommerce. Despite this, the organic data of the online channel was truly amazing with 60% increases.
We have a network of ambassadors, influencers and user-generated content on social media, who promoted the concept of “I stay at home” with the hashtag #SportividaCasa. The company has also used this hashtag to share content on home workouts with athletes and the community.
It was a great time in terms of marketing as the “LaSpo” team got to work on new and entertaining content for the community, including a series of podcasts on the history of climbing which will soon be published on a new Spotify channel by the company. The “ LaSpoRadio ” sound branding operation is now complete – a radio brand project that can be heard today in the company’s single-brand stores (6 stores in Northern Italy).
LaSpo Radio plays current pieces by artists both underground and mainstream across genres of indie rock, downtempo electronics, field recording and organic grooves such as hip-hop, lo-fi beats, R&B and electro-funk. It aims to associate the brand with modern and fresh sounds but with old school references thanks to sampling – giving a contemporary flavour to a brand that points to the future without ever forgetting its tradition: innovation with passion.
LaSpo is available on Spotify, a playlist with songs that recall the vibes of LaSpo. Carefully selected by Luca Mich, vinyl digger & DJ, a great scholar and populariser of history, culture and African-American music since the 90s, when those sounds and the passion for the NBA were still only niche interest.
The period of lockdown at home did not spare anyone. Even the athletes and ambassadors of La Sportiva, who, like the whole global community, had to rethink their relationship with nature, as they were confined to their homes. Luca says that athletes have creatively reinvented workouts for home. “There have been those who have completed over 500 ascents of the home stairways – breaking records. Those who organised and shared workout sessions got closer to their community as they had never done before.
Take Tamara Lunger, for example, an internationally renowned climber who organised several training sessions with her fans. It was a creative and stimulating moment that, on the one hand, gave everyone an even greater desire for outdoor, on the other, gave value to time, distance and sharing through technology.
La Sportiva leaves behind 3 months of lockdown with well-defined action plans for the future, in line with the increasingly important environmental needs and new consumption habits.
“Many initiatives that will impact the coming months and years have been implemented during the lockdown period itself. The other focuses for the future – says Luca – are undoubtedly that of omnichannel, because the “new normal” has accelerated the logic of technological convergence and the evolution of purchasing habits. The future for the company, therefore, passes from here to the continuous monitoring of the touch-points with the customer – who is now a different customer. Approximately 60% of those who have made purchases on our eCommerce in the lockdown period (thanks to the resonance that the Stratos Mask project had) were new customers for us.
Communication must continue to leverage values, ethics, emotional aspects and be able to perceive and stimulate that sense of reciprocity. It goes from visibility to credibility. I am convinced that for companies like La Sportiva, which has always worked on these concepts and that puts transparency, eco-sustainability, ethics and respect for people first, it will not be a problem transforming the problems of the new normal into an era of stimulating opportunities. “
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Jennifer Puzzo, Head of Client Service of Italy
You can find the original Italian version here.