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Cotopaxi hosts bi-annual Questival, helps catalyze corporate social responsibility

By Cara MacDonald, KSL.com | Posted - Apr 4th, 2019 @ 1:30pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Cotopaxi is hosting its bi-annual Questival campaign on April 12-13, opening up a world of challenges to enthusiastic outdoor adventurers.

Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear company which launched in Utah in 2014, is a digitally native vertical brand focused on corporate social responsibility and storytelling in the way it markets and sells its gear and clothing items. A big part of the way Cotopaxi fulfills these roles is its campaign, Questival, which it does to include and involve customers biyearly in multiple cities around the United States.

Digitally native vertical brands seek to tell lush, passionate digital stories that capture consumers and brings them along for the adventure. They avoid middlemen and tend to focus on direct sourcing of materials, enhanced brand experiences, alternating distribution methods (selling directly to consumers instead of going through retailers) and heavy social media engagement.

These types of companies have emerged as a result of increasing numbers of retailers available, and the need to compete with overarching retail companies like Amazon. Just being a store selling clothes is not enough to compete with Amazon, which tends to have pretty much everything— and at a lower cost.

In order to compete with an increasingly competitive and cutthroat market, it has become necessary for brands to not only become catered to digital audiences but also to set themselves apart so their consumers want to shop there instead of at a cheaper option.

Telling a story with a brand is not a new idea. Patagonia is a prime example of a brand that has been engaging in story-telling for decades as they’ve built their organization. They have done this through corporate social responsibility (CSR), which is a self-regulating way of conducting business resulting in a company becoming more socially responsible. This philosophy encourages corporations to contribute positively to the world.

Patagonia engages in CSR through environmental action, which is popular among its outdoor recreating consumers who wish to preserve the environments they travel in. Cotopaxi decided to combine CSR with its status as a digitally native company to create their philosophy— Do Good, in every aspect of the business.

Cotopaxi is a certified B Corporation, which means they put 1% of their profits towards addressing poverty and community development. They also pursue good design, which involves taking into account the condition their workers exist in and where their fabrics come from. They pursue recycling and social responsibility in their production process.

Cotopaxi’s founder, 38-year-old Davis Smith, launched Cotopaxi with his co-founders in April of 2014 with $3 million in seed funding, five backpacks and a website. They rocketed into the world of apparel six months later.

In their initial launch, they purchased a llama on Craigslist and toured college campuses with it to promote Questival, a 24-hour adventure race. The event sought to combine an ultimate scavenger hunt with a way to fulfill simple acts of kindness, all in one. The first campaign boasted 4,000 participants, primarily millennials, and it trended nationally on social media.

“The 1980s model of corporate social responsibility was to throw some money at something at the end of the year,” Smith told Forbes. “Today for most businesses their largest market is Millennials who value experiences more than things. Your product has to tell a story that resonates. You can’t just compete on the best technical performance, or make the best backpack anymore. You have to go deeper, and make a human connection that’s meaningful.”

Questival was their way of driving home their Do Good philosophy while actively engaging their millennial audience, now hungry for more.

This April’s Questival campaign in Salt Lake City is gearing up to be as good as ever. Upon sign-up, all participants will get a Luzon backpack and a finisher’s medal. Teams will then compete to earn bigger items, merchandise, and trips. Each race offers about $5,000 in prizes. Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Get a team together.

  • Step 2: Download the free Questival app. This is how challenges are accomplished and how to vote for others.

  • Step 3: Plan the quest. Challenge lists are sent out in advance, so teams are encouraged to plan ahead for what challenges they intend to complete on the day of Questival.

  • Step 4: Kick off. On the evening of Questival, a kick-off event will be held in downtown Salt Lake City. Here, participants will check-in, pick up their backpacks and begin completing the challenges.

  • Step 5: Spend 24 hours completing challenges.

  • Step 6: Win!

  • Step 7: Join Cotopaxi for a party at the finish line.

Race info:

  • Location: Gateway Plaza at 537 W 600 South in Salt Lake City.

  • Check-in: 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 12.

  • Kick-off: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12.

  • Finish line opens: 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

Learn more about Questival and how to sign up here.

Cara MacDonald

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