Data-driven retailers have the edge. They know their customers better: how they behave and react to certain experiences, promotions, and branding. Designing a new site? Spend a few hours in analytics and you’ll have a strong understanding of what is currently working and what needs to improve. But what if you don’t have a new site yet? What if you are a new brand? You may be interested in how a new brand can be data-driven when it has no historical data to draw on. Blue Acorn has worked with a number of brands in this predicament, from Apera to Stio, and more recently, the beach apparel brand, Bunulu. To examine this issue, we took a look at what our team did for them.
While it’s parent company, Bealls, has been operating for over 100 years, Bunulu was a brand new venture. With no customer behavior to react to, Blue Acorn had to take some unique steps to gain the information needed to create user personas, identify strengths and weaknesses, and generally aid in building out a user experience.
Going Where The Customers Are
With Bunulu, Bealls aimed to engage millennials who embrace the outdoors and the coastal lifestyle. Our team took a hands-on approach to gathering the data. A local beach provided an ideal location for our design team and user experience analysts to conduct interviews to begin gathering data (not a terrible way to spend a few days). Participants completed a series of activities designed to gain insight into how emotions influence the buying decisions of potential customers. Activities included:
- Recalling a beach memory to experience the emotions
- Word associations to understand how emotions relate to tangible objects
- Complete-this-sentence activities to understand how participants related open-ended statements to themselves
Identifying Themes and Creating Personas
After reviewing the results, the team identified key themes and used them to create personas (a way to model, summarize and communicate information about people who have been observed or researched in some way). The personas helped identify the different ways members of Bunulu’s target audience would interact with the site. Participants expressed interest in seeing an eco-friendly story and information about the ocean incorporated into the shopping experience. Potential customers also stressed that it was important to feel happy while purchasing and preferred to see fewer mentions of sales and discounts.
Letting The Competition Do The Lifting
You may not have a site to test demographics, but your potential competitors do. Why not take advantage of that?
Participants in another study were shown several sites belonging to Bunulu’s top competitors and asked to give feedback on first impressions and their likes and dislikes. The data was then used to influence navigation and design choices. Participants favored simplicity, and large, compelling images, and stressed the importance of product details. Designers then incorporated these elements into Bunulu’s new e-commerce site, which features large, brightly-colored lifestyle images on its homepage and informative details on product pages.
You don’t have to meet your customers in person to perform this testing. Usertesting.com makes it easy to target a key demographic and collect videos of them using your competitors’ sites.
The site has allowed Bealls to seize an opportunity. They now reach millennials directly with a targeted brand experience. The company’s willingness to adapt to a changing market and go the extra mile has catapulted them so they now stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the market. As they now collect behavioral data on their customers, their ability to adapt will continue to serve them well.