See How Rumpl CEO Wylie Robinson Tweaked its Brand Positioning to Adjust to COVID19 (and the Good Cause his Business is Supporting)

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See how innovative, Oregon-based performance blanket and gear startup Rumpl is adapting to the COVID19 crisis and banding together with like-minded brands to support good causes.

About Rumpl

CEO Wylie Robinson founded in Rumpl out of San Francisco in 2014 with the goal of bringing the performance materials used to make parkas and sleeping bags to indoor, everyday blankets.

After wildly-successful Kickstarter campaign touting the “world’s best blanket,” Rumpl began collaborating with other lifestyle brands and moved is headquarters from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon.

I had a chance to catch up with Wylie to discuss the impact of the coronavirus crisis on his business and community, and what he’s doing to cope and support other small businesses.

How Rumpl adjusted its brand positioning to focus on comfort and security

“We’ve definitely seen a material impact to our business,” Wylie told me, but he added that “our team has been extremely adaptable to the situation and have actually identified some interesting and creative opportunities.”

Rumpl has tweaked its brand positioning a bit to be responsive to customer needs during these strange times.

“The COVID-19 situation forced us to take a step back and ask, ‘What value can Rumpl add given the current consumer mindset?’ For us, that meant adjusting our brand positioning to focus more on comfort and security,” said Wylie.

He added:

Historically we were very focused on outdoor pursuits, which are more aligned with Maslow’s Esteem and Self-actualization needs. That’s still our sweet spot, but in the past 3-4 weeks we’ve been adjusting messaging and content to convey ‘comfort’, which is more aligned with needs for Safety and Love.

Wyle noted that, “as far as consumer demand goes, we’ve seen a really positive response” to the shift.

See how other innovative brands are shifting their production to make washable face masks for kids and adults.

Adapting to a challenging retail environment

Like other retailers, Rumpl has had to adjust quickly to massively different retail and wholesale environments.

“As far as getting products to customers, that’s been very challenging since about half our business is through wholesale,” said Wylie.

He noted his website (Rumpl.com) is “still running at 110%,” but their big retail distribution footprint across the United States “is essentially frozen right now.”

Several of Rumpl’s partners have put holds on orders, and others flat-out canceled.

“Unfortunately the impact this has is severe for a company of our size, and we’ve had to re-forecast the year and make cost reductions accordingly,” said Wylie.

“We made the decision to share much of the cost burden as a team in order to not have to let any employees go,” he added.

“Every employee took a haircut on their pay, but I am proud that so far we haven’t had to let anyone go. Our goal in creating our revised financial plan in light of COVID-19 was to protect our teammates from a zero-income situation,” Wylie said.

Banding together with other brands to support good causes

Rumpl is one of the founding members of the Brands for Better coalition, a group of innovative, like-minded brands who are coming together in response to the COVID19 crisis.

The members of the Brandsxbetter group have agreed to follow the “10+ movement,” whereby they commit to donate 2% of sales or 10% of their profits to charity during the coronaviris crisis; deliver “additional value” to customers; and track and report contributions to COVID-19 relief.

Rumpl is giving 2% of sales to One Percent for the Planet, a global movement inspiring businesses and individuals to support environmental solutions through memberships and everyday actions.

Support Rumpl and other small and independent businesses

Rumpl is also offering a free beer blanket gift to its customers with a purchase of $49 or more with coupon code OPTINSIDE.

The easiest way to support Wylie and Rumpl’s team is to shop on Rumpl.com.

Rumpl just launched the “Rumpl Covered” program, in which retail shops that are unable to open their doors are now able to serve their customers through Rumpl’s website.

Wylie explained:

In short, we are making our Rumpl.com inventory available to these retailers to sell. Each retail partner has a unique UTM code and discount, and when a customer makes a purchase on Rumpl (through that referral link), we kick 30% of the sale to the retailer, and 5% to the sales rep that services that account.  That’s been really well received by our retailer partners and our customers alike.

Through this program, Rumpl is partnering with outdoorsy retailers including Cord in Portland, OR, The Backpacker Shop in Sheffield Village, OH, and Mountain Supply in Bend, OR.

More broadly, Wylie suggested finding ways to “support your local retail stores if they have the ability to process transactions right now” through their websites.

He noted he and his wife have been ordering meal deliveries to support Portland’s food scene. His latest choice? Award-winning pizza from The Star in Portland.

Here are more ideas for supporting small and independent brands during these difficult times:

  1. Shop these Work from Home sales for women and men;
  2. Upgrade your home office attire with these professional performance clothing brands;
  3. Order a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to save your eyes from all that extra screen time;
  4. Browse more than 60 innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.

About Jake

Jake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.  Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.

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