REI Co-op is an national outdoor retailer and member-owned 

co-operative, who believes a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

The ask: Understand and improve the perception of the REI Co-op product brand through a new strategic positioning.

rei with picture-02.png

(Additionally, if you care to watch me pitch a tent for the first time, thanks to Rachel Broadwell you can click here for a laugh.)

capstone details

All second-year Creative Brand Management students must complete this capstone project, or what we call an Independent Study. We are required to secure our own clients and manage a project deadline. Since this is done individually, I became my own account manager and strategist – simultaneously.


Starting my capstone project with REI Co-op, I set out to tackle this ask, quickly realizing that the brand did not suffer from a product problem, but a perception problem. My goal was to understand this perception, flip it upside down, and lay a foundation for REI Co-op's product brand moving forward.

This project required me to conduct thorough research in a variety of methods. Through secondary research, a quantitative survey with 800 participants, and 5 interviews/shop-alongs, I gained insight into REI Co-op, the outdoor industry, and private label brands.

research themes

01. Brand confusion

REI Co-op’s product brand is enclosed within a cloud of confusion. Their product brand lacks a defined purpose, so consumers have deemed one themselves, that the brand is simply an unfamiliar, cheaper alternative.

02. Private label biases

We know biases impact our product perceptions, but they also impact our purchasing decisions. Private label brands are often seen as a cheap alternative. Consumers take the word “cheap” however, and allow it to impact their perceptions of other brand attributes, like quality or style. 

03. The "risk factor"

People are often unwilling to step outside their comfort zone past the products they know and love. Especially in the outdoor industry, where certain activities require a level of technicality, consumer trust in gear is more volatile. This sparks an unwavering hesitation.

the problem

REI Co-op’s product brand is searching for its identity within the REI Co-op, wanting to understand what their true value proposition is as a brand. The product brand is having a mid-life crisis (having been around since 1938) and needs to understand itself to confidently move forward.


Equipped for the essential outdoor experience.

Equipped for the essential outdoor experience.

Their products are prepared to provide consumers exactly what they need for whatever experience they pursue – no frills, no extra costs, just what is essential.


Brand truth

REI Co-op’s product brand creates inviting, practical gear that excites you to get outside.

Consumer truth

Consumers seek honesty from brands to enhance their experiences.


Motivate and validate consumers for their outdoor adventure, prioritizing functionality and simplicity.


REI Co-op’s product brand knows what matters most to experience the outdoors.

Let's redefine expertise –

The REI Co-op product brand has the ability to capture an audience that is larger than just outdoor experts.

I challenge us to redefine what it means to be an expert – because it's not about skills, it's about the confidence you take with you in your outdoor experiences. REI Co-op's product brand will help you to feel capable and prepared in understanding your relationship with the outdoors.


Click to see what I recommended to bring the new strategic positioning of the REI Co-op product brand to life.

Want to hear more? Send me an email using my address below – let's connect!