At our inaugural Insighter Virtual Conference, Chris Plating, Chief Strategy Officer at EP+Co, shared examples of how the creative agency has worked with clients to reorient them to a different way of thinking about market research and how those changes benefited them in tangible ways.
A men’s formal clothing retailer, Men’s Wearhouse’s main challenge was how to change the brand’s face for the modern shopper. It’s widely known that men typically don’t love shopping. They’re considered hunters instead of browsers. The retail chain provides affordable custom suits and has tailors on-site in every single store. Yet, men don’t come into the stores until the weekend when they need a suit. EP+Co set out to understand this pattern by tapping into aytm’s reliable and affordable resources.
A study conducted on the aytm platform found that 91% of men were open to the idea of owning a custom suit, but only 15% believed that custom suits were for “men like me.” Respondents thought that a custom suit is a tailored or slim fit suit. As a result, EP+Co needed to reorient the idea that a custom suit is your personal measurements. It was also discovered that most men didn’t feel comfortable with their proportions and build. EP+Co took the idea that however you’re built, you look better in a suit that’s built just for you. After this creative shift, Men’s Wearhouse had the best year-over-year same-store sales with custom suits to date. This also had a significant lift in their product salience due to their ongoing brand tracker efforts. There is value in brand trackers.
Consumers were reluctant to purchase John Deere tractors, despite having a deep love for the brand. EP+Co helped John Deere overcome this problem. They found that peer reviews were twice as likely to influence someone to purchase the products over advertising. They decided to reinvent their messaging strategy, so it didn’t look like advertising. There were three moments within the journey that were trapping consumers in a research loop that led them to believe they were paying for the John Deere green paint rather than the John Deere quality. They built “shortcuts” into the research process and added proof points throughout the research loops to justify the value of John Deere tractors. They showed the level of engineering, design, and safety features that set John Deere apart from its competitors. Creating these shortcuts led to a 38% increase in perception of product quality and a 20% decrease in the perception that John Deere tractors are “too expensive.” 62% of consumers said the content made them want to purchase a John Deere tractor. As a result, search impressions and search CTR to the brand’s website for “I Series Tractors” increased by over 400%.
Bojangles is a chicken and biscuit restaurant chain that has a huge cult following in the southeast. In March 2020, a Bojangles location found itself in a political firestorm with a Trump rally in Charlotte, NC. Some of the rally attendees decided to visit the restaurant; however, the store manager locked them out of the establishment, refusing to serve them. Yet again, EP+Co tapped into aytm’s abilities to conduct a quick overnight survey in the Charlotte metropolitan area. It was found that only 3.5% of the light users of Bojangles said that the news story would keep them from going to Bojangles. Overall, awareness of the news story was low, and trying to do damage control would hinder the company instead of help.
EP+Co realized the Bojangles slump wasn’t just in the Charlotte area but also in the surrounding areas. They found that the change was due to concerns around COVID, which were yet to become widespread, indicating that consumers would stay home and not eat out as much. This gave them a three-week head start before most of the region began to shut down, so they put a coronavirus strikeforce in and looked at it from an operational standpoint. They shifted to a drive-thru focus and advertised that the drive-thrus were open during the pandemic. Because of this, they were able to turn the negative sales into a positive spike.
Market Research Mindset Evolution
As data exponentially grows, marketing research has become a basic necessity for businesses to forecast trends and keep up with consumers’ needs. By “unthinking everything”, with the support of partners like EP+Co and aytm, Men’s Wearhouse, John Deere, and Bojangles were able to gain actionable insights, and take advantage of new revenue opportunities in less time than traditional research allows.
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