Category Archives: Interviews

Up and Running Interview (Julia)

  • Spoke to Rob, the manager
  • Specialist running shop on Huntingdon Street
  • Stock New Balance
  • The general public are not as aware of New Balance as those in running circles who tend to know NB well
  • Some customers go in knowing more about New Balance’s lifestyle shoes than their running ones
  • The variety of widths available is a key selling point
  • Rob commented on how the older designs were quite bulky and ugly but said that the designs were sleeker
  • The staff get trained about New Balance
  • Some customers do talk and ask about New Balance
  • The sales advisers have a great influence over customers’ final decisions
  • Trends do not tend to affect running shoes  – the fit is more important than the aesthetics of the shoe
  • Once people try NB they tend to stay with them, however, that is true of other running shoes too as runners tend to like to stick with what works for them
  • Hadn’t seen the new ad campaign but he liked the LOVE/hate one
  • The numbering on the shoes often changes from year to year
  • Made In England sometimes influences peoples’ decisions
  • Limited editions for runners might be nice but they don’t yet do this
  • NBx range – more credible running shoes
  • Relationships between the brand and store are crucial – NB make returns easy and have integrity. They refused Sports Direct as a retailer due to the demands they could make to the brand, despite the fact that they could make a lot of money from such a partnership

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Size? Interview Questions (Toni)

NewBalance

Examples: Does your shop stock New Balance? How is the brand received by your consumers? Do many consumers know much about the brand? What do you (and your staff) know about the brand? In your opinion, are the range of sizes (widths and half sizes) offered by New Balance a key selling point?

  • Limited packs always sell well
  • Made in UK – is a more expensive range so only real trainer lovers or shoe fans normally buys those
  • Only sell medium widths in store
  • Older men are the ones who tend to buy NB more
  • People who are not fussed about trainers don’t buy them that much due to the style –not being very ‘it’
  • The manager Paul – really likes NB – he has about 12 pair his favourites being the 1500 – he likes the design.

Buying Process

Examples: Do customers come in with a specific idea of what they want or do they rely heavily on your help? Does where the shoes are positioned in the shop affect
how well they sell? What factors do you think most influence consumers who are unsure of whether or not to purchase?

  • Consumers have an idea of what they want when they come in
  • NB have not got good street cred with youth
  • If a costumer wanted a comfortable running shoe they would sway them towards NB
  • Seems a big trait that people buy shoes and the colour of the shoes to match theirfootball kit
  • The shop is laid out in sections =  running – basketball- leisure
  • They do their own VM in store – top sellers from the front – back

Bestsellers/Current Trends

Examples: Which trainers are your bestsellers at the moment? What do you think is driving the popularity of these trainers? Have you noticed any particular trends that
customers are buying into at the moment?

  • Nike Cuncki best seller
  • Due to it being a small shop – best sellers change each week and one will out do another by one buy
  • Adidas always sells well
  • Top sellers are always in the window
  • Trainer colours tend to sell in line with consumers football teams.

Other

  • Examples: What ad campaigns have you found to be successful at converting sales? Are there any communications strategies (promotional material, VM etc) that you
    think work well for trainer brands?
  • There is 15 new adverts across the city – billboards – posters etc
  • No TV as much but have been linked to some adverts
  • No You Tube –  main focus is on W of M
  • They have a lot of loyal customers
  • Best stores are Carnaby street in the South and Leeds in the North
  • Heritage brand are big – works well

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Office Interview (Toni)

Interview Questions

New Balance
Examples: Does your shop stock New Balance? How is the brand received by your consumers? Do many consumers know much about the brand? What do you (and your staff) know about the brand? In your opinion, are the range of sizes (widths and half sizes) offered by New Balance a key selling point?

  • They no longer stock New Balance as they did not sell well

Buying Process
Examples: Do customers come in with a specific idea of what they want or do they rely heavily on your help? Does where the shoes are positioned in the shop affect how well they sell? What factors do you think most influence consumers who are unsure of whether or not to purchase?

  • 50/50 most know what they want – they encourage people if they go in and Office don’t have what they want they will guild them somewhere else
  • Trainers are harder to sell to women
  • Vans, Toms and Converses are the biggest sellers
  • The motto is eye level – buy level
  • They have brand training every season – give  all the staff some background information to enable them to sell them

Bestsellers/Current Trends
Examples: Which trainers are your bestsellers at the moment? What do you think is driving the popularity of these trainers? Have you noticed any particular trends that customers are buying into at the moment?

  • Best sellers – Van authentic
  • Plimsolls are big
  • Retro Adidas always sell well
  • Sports unisex shoes are put into brands
  • Best sellers are in the window and situated on the biggest wall in the shop as soon as you walk in
  • Half term and pay days have a big influence on sales

Other
Examples: What ad campaigns have you found to be successful at converting sales? Are there any communication strategies (promotional material, VM etc) that you think work well for trainer brands?#

  • Office – focus more on lifestyle
  • Offspring – there sister brand have more fancy trainers
  • Mainly focus on VM in the window and they have a VM bully who comes in every week to mould the store and advertise sometimes what they want to push.
  • There location is good but weather dependant as people don’t want to walk around in the rain – so tend to stay around the Victoria centre. However Bridlesmith gate was voted the best street in the country by Drapers.

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Schuh Interview (Toni)

Interview Questions

New Balance
Examples: Does your shop stock New Balance? How is the brand received by your consumers? Do many consumers know much about the brand? What do you (and your staff) know about the brand? In your opinion, are the range of sizes (widths and half sizes) offered by New Balance a key selling point?

  • They stock New Balance but they don’t sell well as they are not perceived as fashionable.
  • They were located on a trolley on the edge next too some similar shoes from Eithas – therefore having a similar logo and look = making it difficult to see and promote New Balance.
  • They have had reps in to teach them about New Balance but not everyone was present
  • The manager we spoke to said he does not like them (Might affect his attitude to sell)
  • New balance are big on widths and selling half sizes but all Schuh had was a size 11 ½

Buying Process
Examples: Do customers come in with a specific idea of what they want or do they rely heavily on your help? Does where the shoes are positioned in the shop affect how well they sell? What factors do you think most influence consumers who are unsure of whether or not to purchase?

  • The majority already know what they want.
  • Best selling brand are located at the front of the store in the window and the walls, everything else is on trolleys or at the back of the store.
  • They do offer advice if a customers need it and is having difficulty at deciding on a shoe. The sales team have been briefed on guiding them what other colour shoes they have, what they like, what sort of clothes they could wear the shoes with to help them make the sale.

Bestsellers/Current Trends
Examples: Which trainers are your bestsellers at the moment? What do you think is driving the popularity of these trainers? Have you noticed any particular trends that customers are buying into at the moment?

  • Men’s best seller is Vans Authentic
  • Women’s best seller is tall black converses
  • The vans are big as they are very versatile – boys can’t wear trainers out so vans are a comfortable and smarter alternative.
  • Sport and running shoes do not sell well
  • Since the refit and new design of the shop, Schuh have seen an increase in women in the shop then men.

Other
Examples: What ad campaigns have you found to be successful at converting sales? Are there any communication strategies (promotional material, VM etc) that you think work well for trainer brands?

  • Best selling lines are always in the window.
  • Schuh use telephone boxes to advertise rather than TV.
  • They are doing a TV ad this summer in relation to the 30th anniversary and having a party shoe bus travelling around-( they will do it around the bank holiday weekend in August.
  • Walls are best for selling shoes.

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JD Interview (Toni)

JD

Interview Questions

New Balance
Examples:
Does your shop stock New Balance? How is the brand received by your consumers? Do many consumers know much about the brand? What do you (and your staff) know about the brand? In your opinion, are the range of sizes (widths and half sizes) offered by New Balance a key selling point?

  • No, they no longer focus on performance they are now more on lifestyle and clothing.
  • They do occasional stock new Balance but not often
  • It’s not a stores choice it is a company choice.

Buying Process
Examples:
Do customers come in with a specific idea of what they want or do they rely heavily on your help? Does where the shoes are positioned in the shop affect
how well they sell? What factors do you think most influence consumers who are unsure of whether or not to purchase?

  • Yes many customers do come in with a certain type of trainer in mind.
  • The company have specific VM – with window displays with all the best sellers and trainers they want to push – highlighting footwear before a customer walks through the door. A trolley of shoes when they walk through the door and then when a customer walks in then go straight to the left and so the first thing they will see are the trainers.
  • The wall of shoes are divided by categories – with just one block dedicated to Nike Air running shoes and the rest being lifestyle – the Nike Air’s outsells the lifestyle shoes even though they are a ¼ of the size.
  • All shoes which are the best sellers or those they are trying to push are positioned at eye level – as it draws the consumer in.

Bestsellers/Current Trends
Examples:
Which trainers are your bestsellers at the moment? What do you think is driving the popularity of these trainers? Have you noticed any particular trends that
customers are buying into at the moment?

  • Best seller is the Adidas PT – It is a new version of an older shoe = giving it some heritage.
  • It has become really big as it started by selling them in understated/ minimalist and basic colours at first but in varied sizes – including halves. But then it did a massive stock of different and desirable colour ways.
  • The shoe then became huge but meant a lack of stock making them more popular as they become more desirable.
  • Good service is a big thing if a customer isn’t sure. Knowledge of the product, politeness and attentiveness is key to convince a customer to buy.

Other
Examples:
What ad campaigns have you found to be successful at converting sales? Are there any communication strategies (promotional material, VM etc) that you
think work well for trainer brands?

  • No they are reluctant to be involved in ad campaigns – but don’t really have a specific reason they are going from strength to strength so there is no need
    to.
  • They feature on Adidas ads and people seem to know what they can buy from JD.
  • They only promote at certain times of the year pre Christmas and pre summer.
  • They have the advantage that they are under the umbrella of JD, Size? And Bank therefore meaning a lot of communication which is critical for determining trends etc.

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Interview with Danny (Manager) at Foot Asylum, Nottingham (Julia)

  • Danny has been at Foot Asylum for 5 months, but he also has experience at JD, Decathlon and Sports Direct (Brent Cross store, took 5 times as much as the Nottingham Foot Asylum store)
  • Foot Asylum do not stock New Balance but may do one day in the future
  • They do not have a core customer – their customers range from 14 year olds to 40 year olds – however, certain lines sell better with certain consumers e.g.  Voi Clothing with people from an Asian background, as it was set up by an Asian man
  • When recommending brands to a customer, the staff base their recommendations on the style of the customer e.g. if they’re wearing Converse hi-tops they suggest similar brands and styles
  • Danny was unaware that New Balance sold lifestyle trainers; his view was that they’re competing in a highly competitive market with other more established brands and not offering something unique. He felt that to a consumer who is only aware of their performance trainers, the lifestyle trainers may seem an odd range i.e. that New Balance are operating outside of their area of knowledge
  • Foot Asylum only stocks full sizes, however, Danny said ‘If a brand stocks half sizes and diferent widths, youre twice as likely to sell them’
  • Customers will go into the shop with an idea of what they want and the staff will push brands that the customer is already a fan of
  • Decathlon had a policy of getting customers to try something new
  • Toms are a big seller, particularly with students who wear chinos – their one style sells well
  • The ‘N’ works for New Balance just like the Nike swoosh works for them
  • The N-Lock System is New Balance’s USP (see diagram below) – the way the laces are integrated into the shoe makes them fit better than other shoes, as when you do the laces, you’re not just pulling from the side of the tongues; you’re pulling up from under the shoe, all the way up the sides and to the top. Danny found this to be a massive selling point for New Balance.
  • Adidas in their bestseller, then Vans, then Fred Perry
  • Some stores don’t have any VM staff, but some have specifically trained VM staff
  • Staff training is essential to make staff engage with the brand- if the have the information, they will undoubtedly use it. You need to get the customers interested by telling them something new. At the moment ony Fit Flop come in to talk to them about their products.
  • So farFoot Asylum have only collaborated with Converse (or so Danny knew) but his view was that collaborations and limited editions that are exclusive to  retailer will encourage the retailer to go the extra mile for the brand and push their products harder.

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New Balance Q&A with Michael Clarke – (Toni)

Is there anything that New Balance wouldn’t do in a campaign apart
from celebrity endorsement?

  • No TV
  • Always want an online presence – i.e. get blog coverage as well
  • Important to have a PR side – event, product placement = a strong money future

Any specific elements in the campaign or should it be general?

  • A General New Balance campaign –  spreading their message
  • Direct at our consumers and market or opinion formers circle

Should we concentrate on just the UK?

  • Yes, just concentrate on the UK – as you know the channels etc

What is the problem in the UK as to why NB has not caught on compared to other countries’?

  • Brand awareness is not as big in the UK

Are there any competitors’ campaigns which you think are really good?

  • Red Wing Shoe’s campaign which I saw in B&B was really good, did something similar to what we did years ago.
  • We want to make the campaign truly ours and personal with no celebs the workers and people are important.

What do you want us to promote?

  • Once you know your consumer, market New Balance as a brand and a collection
  • Using examples is always useful.

Where do you see New Balance in the future?

  • The classic side shoe however; it will not change as much as it will just vary in terms of fabric and colours in relation to trends.

What does the UK market mean to you?

  • London is actually quite new balance trendy but there is a larger group of designers in a big creative industry. The UK is very mainstream it is not so unique.
  • Shop in Liverpool called Microzine – gave you an experience when you shopped
  • Hanon is a big player for us in UK
  • Bikes are really in at the moment so we are thinking along those lines as well

Any problems when working with a retailer?

  • Retailers choose which stores they decide to place your product  in

Is there any possibility of a New Balance store opening in the UK?

  • Yes possibly in 2012 launching a London store – as we can relate it to the Olympics– being the famous running trainer.
  • (Not many brands have their own stores they use retailer)

There was a slump in New Balance in the 90s why??

In the mid 90s it was discovered that Nike had been using sweat shops and so many people in US – campaigned against it and swayed towards New Balance as they were similar but used good makers. It ended up with a huge increase in sales in US which was amazing for them but meant that they forgot about their UK customers a bit as they left the market scene slightly.

How did you get back your UK Customers?

  • Went back to basics and had to rebuild that relationship again, sometimes on an individual bases

Any interesting information?

  • Salt box has just dropped Nike – they are the biggest retailers in Berlin. They didn’t like how there was not much of a relationship, different people they saw every month. They didn’t feel they were treated right.

Thoughts about having a vintage range?

Already sort of doing that – as the style of shoe doesn’t change but you can still get the original colours of how they looked when they were first produced.

You said Manchester was big – why specifically?

  • It is close to the Lake District so knows Flimby more
  • It is the 2nd fashion city
  • It is big on the music scene and has older fashion compared to London which is still new fashion
  • It also holds a lot more individual and independent retailers.

In Berlin there was a shoe which had a name written on it called Badley who is a new athlete – I thought you didn’t do endorsement?

  • It is not endorsement – Badley is a runner and we pay him for his travel and charity things he attends as he wears our shoes to run in but we don’t pay for him to say they are good or pay him to wear them.

Main competitor in the UK?

  • Trainer and sneaker brands
    o   Onitsuka Tiger
    o   Asiacs
    o   Nike
    o   Addidas
    o   Reebok
  • They are all performance competitors
  • As well as retail competitors
    o   Converse
    o   Vans
    o   Toms
  • But the sports trainers/ performance brands are our main competitors

Where did New Balance name and logo come from?

When William Riley began he was inquisitive about how chicken having 3 parts to their feet and how they balance and if they were to wear a shoe how they could wear it with all their lumps and bump as each chickens feet is different. That’s were it came from –
Idea originally was a shoe that was for pedometery reason to help people balance right.

Why are they so much cooler in Japan?

  • Made in UK tag has more value there and they embrace the New Balance style
  • They are quite expensive out there so those wearing them are showing off their wealth and riches, that they can afford them.

Why the Lake District shoe??

  • Keep the top tier interested as they know New Balance but want something unique and limited.
  • Little extra things – they can wear them and show off to people.
  • The Lake District allows them to have a story to tell as well as something to blog and talk about.

How would you describe your tier 1 consumer?

  • Sees what they wear in fashion as a hobby and what makes them unique and individual.

Do you use social media and if so how?

  • In the US we do – we have an active Facebook and we upload videos to You Tube.
  • Haven’t completely established it in the UK and we haven’t got the most out of it yet.
  • We have done a few viral videos but really need more and ones that sell.

What do you want our opinion formers to find out??

  • What other brands they buy into
  • Outfits they wear the brand with
  • What friends think of the shoes and what they are wearing
  • What nights out they attend – gender of music
  • Where they go out
  • Technologies they use – type of phone, have a Mac
  • Social media they use etc
  • Get an overall that they are to get a precise idea of who they are – what they buy, look at etc

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