Cole Haan

Cole Haan is a fashion label specializing in shoes, handbags, and fashion accessory outerwear.  Its products are sold at high end retailers (e.g. Macy’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, etc.), its own outlet stores, in outlet malls, and through its online storefront.  I was first drawn to Cole Haan because of the Nike connection – i.e. Cole Haan was purchased by Nike in 1988.  Through this partnership, Cole Haan – which typically made casual and dress shoes geared predominantly for the working crowd, put Nike Air soles on these shoes.  I found them to be pretty comfortable, especially in a work environment – so much so it’s the only brand I buy these days (outside running/basketball shoes).  The shoes are quite expensive, but for the amount of time spent in them, I think they’re worth it.  That said, the Nike relationship ended in 2013.  In looking at the product sites today, it’s unclear that Cole Haan is still making shoes with Nike soles.


Cole Haan employs numerous social channels seen below.  That said, one won’t find many Cole Haan television commercials.  Cole Haan tackles multichannel marketing through social media, banner, mail, out-of-home, and mobile advertising.

In my opinion, most of their PR and community management is geared towards existing customers.  They’re not casting a “broad net” aimed at introducing a broader set of consumers to their product.  It’s a luxury item due to its cost, a significant barrier to purchase.  But once purchased, Cole Haan relies on word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business.

An area of concern for me would be the unclear relationship going forward with Nike.  This sole difference maker is key to my continued enjoyment of Cole Haan shoes.  Because it’s unclear that the sole will be the same going forward, I’m definitely inclined to inquire about this process and determine how the soles will be made going forward.  Because they haven’t done much to quell any sole concerns, I may be prompted to seek other shoe providers in the future – e.g. Johnston & Murphy or Allen Edmonds.


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