In an effort to align its brand values with its customers' awareness, the company wanted to leverage its strive for innovation as one of its selling points and to communicate it to them effectively.
To achieve this ambitious goal, the Consumer Innovation team at Ecco decided to involve its customers in the production of its upcoming campaigns and refine its communication strategy based on their insights.
"Our work is to try to take all of those beautiful innovations that Ecco has come up with and try to describe them in a way where people know how it's gonna make their daily lives better"Gabby Henriksen, Senior Consumer Innovation Analyst at Ecco
Intuition is great… but customer insight is better
To learn more about how to communicate with its customers, Ecco required insights into its customers' opinions. This was a stark contrast to Ecco's old marketing model, which traditionally relied on "gut feelings" and hard metrics, without much integration of qualitative data. This had to change.
Therefore, the Consumer Innovation team at Ecco partnered with Sonar to radically disrupt the way it created and developed its marketing campaigns. The company conducted over 30 interviews with men and women in America and Germany, testing multiple marketing assets from its latest campaign.
What Ecco learnt from its customers
Customer insights taught Ecco how it could emphasise its innovation in marketing efforts to resonate with the company's consumers:
"We found out [that] communicating innovation really has to do with just communicating the end result. What consumers want to know is what that specific technology is going to do for them. It's really going to shape our strategy going forward on how we talk about our innovation."
"Numbers can only tell you so much..."
The interviews Ecco and Sonar made with Ecco's customers helped the company connect with its customers and, subsequently, know what to do to make its communication and marketing efforts more successful.
That's because these interviews helped provide the "whys" of a customer's choice or action. And that was precisely what the company needed, according to Gabby:
She further exemplifies how the video interviews helped the company to see how its customers struggled with their technical descriptions:
"The company could see real people reading out loud the Ecco facts and benefits and the Ecco descriptions, and they could see them struggle"
This prompted the company to change its communication style.
First of all, it taught Ecco that customers valued certain aspects of its shoes, like comfort or innovation, over others. Next, it showed them that although innovation was something customers valued, it was also hard to understand in written words:
"People are not gonna take the time to read long descriptions."
Conversely, videos or visual-rich content was reviewed more favourably by Ecco's audience. These insights helped the people at Ecco learn how to best communicate certain aspects of their products in their campaigns or on their website:
"The result is to show our product descriptions and show how we talk about innovations in a visual format."
Experiencing innovation through the eyes of the customer
Customer insights also showed that "you can have a great product, but it's all about how you communicate it and talk about it". First, Ecco learned that the brands renowned for innovation are those that use technology for enhanced comfort:
"Consumers don't really care about any innovative footwear that has nothing to do outside of comfort and quality. So comfort was a big one, and that was great news for Ecco because that is something that we thrive on."
Knowing this, the company shifted its perspective of innovation from a stand-alone value proposition to an interwoven communication component of its shoes' comfort. This allowed the company to capitalise on its innovation efforts while contextualising them in a way that was digestible and resonating with its audience.
Bringing the customers to the heart of decision-making
By listening to its customers, Ecco" has changed the way it writes descriptions of shoes and communicates how the shoes can make peoples' lives better". In addition, the feedback made it easier to communicate the benefits of the shoes to align with what the consumers deem essential.
These actionable insights helped the company connect with its customers by bringing them to the centre of its decision-making.
By knowing how to showcase its innovations in its campaigns, the marketing team can now create campaigns guaranteed to resonate with its customers' needs.
Further research and additional customer insights
Learning that consumers care most about comfort and quality, Ecco wanted to research what those qualities mean to the consumers. Then, to help the company address its most significant selling points: comfort and quality through innovation.
Ecco's findings showed that customizability and a shoe's ability to mould to the individual foot signify innovation to the customer. The company also found that consumers want to know what value a product has for them specifically:
"The shoe did signify innovation to the consumer which will transpire into how we communicate all our shoes"
A company-wide impact
Ecco learned how best to communicate its innovations from the consumers' perspective and what type of communication material effectively conveys the benefits of the company's products. The company gained insights into what its customers prefer in footwear, making it easier to address those preferences in their marketing campaigns.
Moreover, these insights can also be used by other teams in the company, generating a company-wide effect greater than initially expected:
"We're working with the entire business to try to plug in consumer insights where we can."
The gathered customer insights will have a more significant effect, as the findings will transpire into other business units.