Client: Backpack manufacturer.
Engagement: Re-design their flagship backpack.
Result: Backpack remains number one in sales in the United States.
Our client already made the best-selling backpack in the world, but it had been several years since it’s last update, and was slowly losing market share.
The client had engaged five senior editors from outdoor-themed magazines. These people were tasked with redesigning the backpack to fit the brand image of ‘active outdoor.’
But this re-design by the outdoor experts was making our client nervous. It was a fairly large departure from the design that was currently on the market, much more technical and sporting very pricey materials and complicated sewing. Margins would decrease if this pack replaced the current best-seller, and our client asked Rebel to test the re-design and adjust if necessary.
Our first order of business was our famous competitive matrix. We looked at all backpack manufacturers and the features they offered, including the branding that accompanied the packs and the target audiences. Of course there are hundreds of manufacturers worldwide, so we limited our targets to the top 50 in sales.
The competitive matrix turned out to be useful, but provided little insight as to how the ‘outdoor-expert redesign’ might fare in the market. It did, however, provide great insights as to what a redesign in general should entail, so we took our notes and went into the field to study the purchasers of this particular pack. The purchasers were students, by the way, ages 12 – 25, and the market split almost evenly between the sexes.
We went to schoolyards at first to see how children under 18 interacted with their packs. Our discoveries here showed that that while over 50% of students didn’t really care what sort of pack they carried, the other 50% was very involved in the purchase of their pack and interacted with it for several minutes of every hour they were away from home. Their packs in this second group almost always became personalized objects that extended the individuality of these young people, and were an important accessory to their schoolwork, activities, and social interactions throughout the day.
We then hit college campuses to watch students and teachers interact with backpacks. Our largest market was found in ‘quads’ at 4 universities across the nation. We again saw a particular devotion to the backpack in a sizeable population, and watched the behavior of students as they lived out of their packs for often 12-14 hours per day.
Finally, we asked our client for internal analytics. We scoured the customer service logs and pinpointed frequent repairs and used our behavioral research of the customer to identify the specific actions of users that often resulted in a return (young adults like to swing packs by a single shoulder strap, causing great stress to a particular seam, etc.).
All this work resulted in a simple requirements document that separated male/female preferences across the age spectrum of current buyers. Our client ditched the ‘outdoor-expert’ redesign and followed our requirements to the letter, offering feature-sets that rang-true to their customer base. This particular backpack remains the best selling backpack in the world.