Product: E-commerce & Apparel
Note: To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and altered confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of XYZ Clothing.
XYZ Clothing was a popular skateboarding apparel company from the early 90’s to early 2000’s with an elite team of skateboard athletes based out of Carlsbad, San Diego. In 2014, founders Tommy Caudill and skateboarding icon Danny Way, decide to revitalize the brand after being out of the seen for a decade.
Challenge & Scope
As a UX Research Intern from March 2017 to 2018 I worked with a team of six. I went through a two phase research process. In the first phase I was responsible for proposing a new marketing roadmap and business plan pitch deck. In the second phase I lead the initiative on conducting user research to validate current brand perception and the market validation for the 2017 fall product launch.
- Marketing Proposal
- Business Plan Development
- Field Research
- Ethnographic User Interviews
Develop a Deeper Understanding for our Customers
Since 2014, retail sales have dramatically declined and a major portion of skateboard apparel revenue is made up of online shopping. For XYZ Clothing, this meant local skate shop retailers are going to order less supply and, given their limited space, need to move product quickly.
Another challenge was to evolve culturally with customers and enter a highly competitive apparel industry in the U.S. XYZ Clothing was originally part of a generation with the skateboarding apparel industry still in its early growth phase. Today, XYZ is in a whole new ball park with skateboarding globally adopted with major lifestyle brands such as Nike, Adidas, DC Shoes, Vans, and Hurely heavily invested in this customer segment.
XYZ Clothing is a lifestyle brand with a goal of promoting the traditional anti-PC cultural values through their unique branded content and apparel. XYZ Clothing was getting ready to launch their third collection in the fall of 2017 offering t-shirts, raglans, hoodies, and hats. With these new and improved designs we hoped to validate a product to market fit and build core customer base.
I began my process by asking a few questions.
- What is the history and evolution of skateboarding?
- What is the current business model?
- Who are the current competitors? (big brands and new brands)
- How is XYZ Clothing positioned in the market?
Consumer & Retail Report
I used a research report published by Transworld Business titled “The State of Skate” to kick off the industry audit. It was a helpful resource because It gave a clear snapshot of the current business model, customer segment brake down, behavioral trends, and an annual retail performance.
Marketing Proposal & Business Plan
In order to see where XYZ was positioned in the market and understand their future business goals I began auditing their current business model and marketing strategy. Prior to my internship, XYZ did not have formal documentation of these high level strategies. Therefore, I began developing this process in the form of a marketing roadmap and business plan pitch deck to communicate these strategies to internal and external stakeholders. In addition, I made some of my own recommendations to the following:
- Brand identity & messaging
- Marketing channels
- Product design
- Experience based events
- Project timeline
After getting a high level overview of the current state of skateboard apparel I began to look closer at the competitive landscape. This is the criteria I began measuring these brands.
- Brand identity
- Online and store purchasing experience
- Social platforms
- Athlete endorsements
- Branded experiences (events)
After having a better understanding XYZ’s competitors and the future business goals I conducted an internal audit using the same criteria to asses their current market position. I then ran through a SWOT analysis exercise to identify the strengths and weakness’s. This was great method for bench marking XYZ against their competitors.
I began my user research process by conducting field research. This was a great exercise to observe our users behavior in their natural environment. I discovered new artifacts and built an understanding of user context along the way. It also set the foundation for writing my test plan during user interviews.
Observation: Skate Parks
I went to 8 different skateparks in Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego). I used my phone to take photos and a notepad to write observations. I also casually asked questions to users to begin getting comfortable talking to our users.
My goal was to understand:
- Who are our users?
- What brands are users wearing?
- What are the important tasks and activities they are completing?
- How do they behave and interact with other people at the park?
Observation: Skate Shops
I went to 10 skate shops in Southern California (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Buena Park, San Diego). I spoke to buyers and sales reps to learn about their roles purchasing new apparel for the seasons and how fast the supply turns around. I then went to two shops that carried XYZ clothing to observe the current in store purchasing experience and to get some product to market validation.
My goal was to understand:
- Which XYZ Clothing items were they carrying?
- How well was it performing compared to the other brands?
- Where was the items position in the store?
- How much knowledge did the sales teams have about their product?
I used Google Analytics to understand users behavior, where users are dropping off in the funnel, and the overall performance of their online store. One of XYZ biggest goals was to reduce the bounce rate. These were my findings:
- Referrals (Social Media) was driving the most traffic to XYZ’s online store
- The two main drop off points on the site were the homepage and T-Shirt page.
- During the months of October and November XYZ released their 2017 fall product line, which had the highest bounce rate.
Instagram is XYZ’s strongest marketing channel and is responsible for driving most of the traffic to their online store. After analyzing the site performance and the social engagement the data began to tell a deeper story. Users were engage with new promotional content and then converting to the online store. After browsing for a couple minutes they would leave the site. This led me to a few questions that I wanted to explore in user interviews.
- Does the XYZ Clothing brand align culturally with their target market?
- Does their new 2017 fall clothing line meet the needs of their users?
- I conducted interviews over the course of two weeks at a skatepark to understand skateboarders current lifestyle, their impression of XYZ Clothing’s brand identity, ambassadors, and new 2017 fall collection.
- I was responsible for recording videos, taking notes, analyzing qualitative feedback, visualizing quantitative results, and presenting insights (e.g. user pain points, SWOT analysis) to the various stakeholders in the team including researchers, product owners, and investors.
- To validate XYZ current user persona
- To understand users current perception of the XYZ Clothing brand Identity
- To get feedback and validation on the 2017 Fall Collection
- A presentation deck with detailed findings from participant interviews, a comparison of new personas vs the old personas, a mood board communicate how these personas dressed, and user quotes that reflected their thoughts on branding, clothing, and ambassadors.
- The impact was to help the product team understand users needs and lifestyles. This research resulted in the team shifting their focus to selling their new product line to a different age segment.
- Recruit Creative Director
- Must have strong product vision and art background
- Ability to execute creative vision with tangible designs
- Rebrand Initiative
- Brand Identity must culturally align with users lifestyle
- Brand messaging must be consistent across all marketing channels and product design
- Recruit Ambassadors (skateboarders)
- Ability to promote brand consistently through social platform
- Ambassador Lifestyle must align with XYZ Clothing
- Create branded content with ambassadors (skate Clips)
- Need an ambassador for each segment of skateboarding (Transition Park, and Street)
In order to validate the current findings in my research I would like to complete more user interviews at skate parks in orange county and San Diego to increase the sample size. If the rest of the research is consistent with my findings I would recommend implementing the items above.