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Vans Lifestyle Marketing

Individual Essay

Jenny Li

SUNY at Albany

BMKT 351

Professor Wunsch

March 29, 2016


This article discusses the target audience and their personality traits of Vans Company, as well as how Vans Company fit into consumers' lifestyle.  Whereas Vans target its audience to young people who like music, street culture, sports. It focuses mostly on skateboard field. Vans sponsors sports and music events every year to get those people with similar lifestyle together. It's high quality and good make-up make it a favorite for skateboarders. Although Vans is significant in lifestyle marketing, it still has several competitors to deal with.

Vans Lifestyle Marketing

Vans Lifestyle Marketing Vans is a global footwear and apparel brand with 50 years history. It started with selling skate shoes in southern California. They choose the right target segment for its brand. This paper will identify the target audience and lifestyle marketing of Vans Company.

Vans Company was founded in 1966 by brothers Paul Van Doren and Jim Van Doren and their partners. In early 1970's, some skateboarders liked Vans because of its sticky sole and rugged make-up, they wore it all over southern California. It later became a good choice for skaters in 1970s. With the help of skaters and BMX riders, Vans became more and more famous among generation X. In the following years, Vans designed shoes for skateboarders and those who love X-Sports. In 1995, Vans sponsored the Warped Tour, which is a traveling rock festival in the United States. Young generation got familiar with it. Vans started to create world's leading action sports series including events in skateboarding, BMX, surfing, etc. It's targeting to whole marketing of consumers who love sports.

Vans Company's slogan is “off the wall”. Vans Shoes released Off the Wall Meaning Ad in 2013, it stated “Off the Wall is a state of mind. Thinking differently. Embracing creative self-expression. Choosing your own line on your board and in your life.” It indicates their target audience is people who are willing to think differently, have passion about life. This implied the personality traits of Vans Shoes' target audiences are more likely to be classic, exciting, active and innovative. Because their consumers agree with the slogan, they either think differently or want to think differently, so they buy this brand and wear it. Self-concepts are a specific type of opinion, which are our opinions about ourselves.(Avery, J., Kozinets, R. V., Mittal, B., Raghubir, P., & Wooside, A. G., p. 133) Some of Vans' customers self-concepts are sporting, relaxing.

In 1980s, Vans tried to sell a variety of sports shoes such as basketball shoes, baseball and soccer shoes. However, it dragged them down. They filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1984 because there weren't many people buy its wide range of products(Vans, 2016). Van Doren said they had to cut back on everything, but quality remain the same. Vans' attempt to target the extreme sports marketing failed, so they started to produce average quality shoes for different audiences. They target their market to skateboard, BMX and snowboarding, and it works.

There are many other shoes competitors for Vans, such as Nike, Converse, Adidas. However, unlike Nike, Converse and Adidas, Vans Company mostly focuses on skateboarding shoes and apparels. There are many other shoes companies focus on skateboarding industry such as DC, DVS and Fallen. Vans Shoes is well known in skateboard shoes brands because of its high quality. For skaters, skateboard shoes are consumptions, which means skate shoes are consumed very quickly. Vans shoes' target group is urban upper middle and upper class. Its price is not as expensive as Nike's. Its nice looking and long history makes it significant than other competitors.

Vans and Nike are two big companies who sponsor sports events every year, they promote the sports activities in the world, they provide more opportunities for young people to do things they like. Vans Company positions itself in the global market in over 30 countries. It has been in China since 2008, and it has over two hundred stores in China nowadays. Vans' marketing approach is different between China and the U.S. because of cultural difference. In the United States, Vans is very skate-centric. In China, skate is very small. So Vans' target consumers who are related to creativity, such as music, skate and street culture (Philana Woo, 2014). In early years, most young teenagers in China who wore Vans don't skate, because only limited of young generation skate in China, but it's getting much better now. More and more people are getting involved in creative activities and learn street culture in China. Vans held lifestyle events in China every year to bring street culture, skateboard, BMX, music and art together, most buyers in China are between age 16 to 30s, they are students and people who just start working for several years. Vans' buyers in China want to express themselves, because Chinese culture is not creative based. Nowadays, Vans' target audience not only like music but also like skateboard, snowboarding, tattoo and etc. Vans fits into their lifestyle perfectly.

In United States, Vans target its consumers to young people between 15-24 years old with interests in street culture, sports, music and lifestyle fashions (Cy Messenger, 2011). Van Doren Jr. said Vans is a company that sells to teenagers, 65% male and 35% female. Teenagers don't have many things to do before they can drive. However, they can play skateboards, surfs or rides bikes. He mentioned Vans' target audience is teenagers, because young teenagers who like skateboards, surf and street culture might also like music such as rock and punk. Therefore, Vans also get itself familiar with bands and lots of people in bands wear Vans. Vans sponsors the Warped Tour for the first time in 1995, and it's now called Vans Warped Tour, the longest running concert series in America. They successfully attract people from art, street culture, X-Sports and music into one place. It's a successful lifestyle marketing decision for Vans.

Lifestyle is the way we live, people with similar lifestyle would like to go to events, activities held by Vans because that's what they do everyday. Vans' consumers' lifestyle shows their leisure activities such as skateboarding, BMX or surfing. The good quality of Vans shoes makes it one of the favorites for people who love these sports or whose reference groups are those people, which mean people want to be like them. Nowadays, people who don't skateboard also love to wear Vans Shoes. Vans target its market to different sports by creating awareness in different sports such as snowboarding and BMX. It started to sponsor these sports events in different countries. Most of the people who go to sports events sponsored by Vans are young, and those events make people feel exciting. Vans sponsored skaters who love to skate in different countries. Some of their loyal fans even got tattoos of Vans logo.

Small part of Vans' target audience is materialism. They love to collect Vans shoes. Vans launched several special topic sneakers such as Hello Kitty, Disney and star wars shoes. These are good collection for consumers who love the original films.  Geodemographics is the study of relationships between demographics on one hand and geographic location on the other. (Avery, J., Kozinets, R. V., Mittal, B., Raghubir, P., & Wooside, A. G., p.148) Vans operates about 350 V.F.-operated Vans stores located in Asia, Europe, and North America through 150 partnerships. As the shipping service getting better today, their consumers are all around the world. Status consumption is acquiring and consuming products that signify a status in society (Avery, J., Kozinets, R. V., Mittal, B., Raghubir, P., & Wooside, A. G., p. 146).

Psychographics are characteristic profiles of consumers that describe them in terms of their psychological and behavioral makeup.( Avery, J., Kozinets, R. V., Mittal, B., Raghubir, P., & Wooside, A. G., p.133).Using a questionnaire is the best way to find out psychographic profile of Vans' consumer group. Lots of people who buy Vans love sports, music, have passions. Vans company made the best choice to harness their habits, lifestyle into their marketing strategy. Vans sponsor a lot of events every year around the world. People with the same interests are very pleased to join these events. VALS is a methodology in which determine psychographic segment. 59 percent of college students were Experiencers, and 9 percent were achievers.(Dawn B. Valentine, Thomas L. Powers, 2013), Vans' target consumers are experiencers and achievers, which means they are motivated by the desire for achievement and are motivated by self-expression. For example, skateboarders want to learn new tricks, skate down all kinds of stairs. Young generations want to seek excitement from their life. They have enthusiasm to try new things.

According to SWOT analysis, Vans mostly focus on skateboarding style of apparel, which gives them limited target segment to choose, and they have Nike as a big competitor in skateboarding field. There are lots of fake Vans shoes in the market, they need to find a way to help consumer avoid those fake shoes.

 Overall, Vans target its market to young teenagers who are creative and passionate. Vans sponsors sports events and music festival every year to attract people with the same interest together. It's high quality and good looking make it one of the favorites for people who love x-sports. Although its customers are all around the world, Nike is the major competitor for Vans.  


Avery, J., Kozinets, R. V., Mittal, B., Raghubir, P., & Wooside, A. G. (2013). Consumer behavior: human pursuit of happiness in the world of goods (3rd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Open Mentis.

Cy Messenger, (2011). Target Market Analysis VANS, New Zealand. Retrieved from

Dawn B. Valentine , Thomas L. Powers , (2013) "Generation Y values and lifestyle segments",  Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 30 Iss: 7, pp.597 – 606

Vans (2016). Vans History. Retrieved from

Woo, P. (2014, December 16). Skater Goes Chic In China: Vans Taps Into Chinese Creative Class. In Jing Daily. Retrieved from

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