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Ecommerce Marketing

Which surfwear brands are riding highest online? The Drum's Mystery Shopper dives in

By James Hammersley, founding partner

September 11, 2017 | 5 min read

Surfwear brands have often managed to weather the ups and down of the economy, but even they look like they are facing challenging headwinds. As profit margins are squeezed and the search for a bargain increases, more and more of these brands are looking to sell direct to the customer online.


With summer coming to an end and sales starting to fall away, The Drum’s Mystery Shopper compares the online performance of five of the country’s biggest surfwear brands and assesses who has ridden the A-frame and who’s struggling with the ankle busters.


Insight: Revenue comes from traffic that converts. Having more traffic than your competitors is a real advantage.

Analysis: Patagonia is driving the largest amount of online traffic in this competitor set, competing with Animal, while the others trail well behind. With this level of traffic, Patagonia has the strongest platform on which to build a successful e-commerce execution in this competitor set.

Paid campaign

Insight: If you are confident about your sales execution (ie customers stick on your pages and convert well) then you don’t have to outbid your competitors to gain a top three ad slot, which is where you will attract exponentially more traffic than position four or below.

Analysis: Patagonia’s keyword universe is twice as big, possibly reflecting its wider range, but Animal looks like the top performer here with only 16% less traffic on roughly half the number of keywords. This will in part be down to the superior ad position it has managed to achieve.

The relatively poor performance of the other three competitors is inevitable as they are all making significantly smaller keyword investments when compared to the competitor set leaders.

Landing Pages

Insight: Landing pages are a mark of how well you understand the different customer needs that you are fulfilling. More pages and more thought is being put into the marketing proposition and the following sales execution.

Analysis: All competitors have a range of landing pages but three are significantly ahead of the others. By employing more landing pages than the competition, Quiksilver will be taking users to its intended destination in fewer steps than the competition and will likely be driving more sales as a result.


Insight: Listening to your customers is vital; without understanding the needs and wants of a potential buyer it is near impossible to improve conversion.

Analysis: Only Patagonia is employing a full set of digital tools. Every other company reviewed here is missing a part of their digital armoury. Only by having a full set of tools can you generate the insight required to implement a successful test and learn programme that improves the customer experience and subsequently increases revenue.

What can you tell from this?

The obvious conclusion

Patagonia is leading the way in this competitor set. It has the largest amount of traffic, the largest paid campaign and a full toolbox. It will need to utilise its toolbox effectively if its want to continue riding the e-commerce wave.

The inevitable conclusion

Saltrock and Volcom are the strugglers here. They have the least amount of traffic, relatively small paid campaigns and holes in their toolboxes. If they want to succeed through the online channel then serious improvements will need to be made soon, or they could get washed up on the rocks.

The surprising conclusion

None of the companies analysed here are executing the perfect e-commerce barrel roll. A highly effective paid campaign combined with high numbers of unique landing pages and a fully-utilised digital toolbox are vital in driving significant revenue online. All of them have room for improvement.

The insight

The majority of these companies are failing to employ a full digital toolbox. As a set of brands who are used to selling through third-party websites, the insight that can be generated from engaging with customers online is vital. As they put away their wet-suits for the winter they might want to take some time out to polish their execution as well as their boards.

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