Exclusive: Wolverine Taps First Insight to Help Optimize Global Performance

Brands that service multiple markets, whether diverse by region or demographic, benefit from a multitude of revenue streams – if they can tailor their assortment to each group. A new partnership between Wolverine Worldwide and First Insight will tackle this issue, equipping the footwear company with the data to serve each market individually.

The Wolverine Worldwide portfolio includes Merrell, Sperry, Hush Puppies, Saucony, Wolverine, and Keds. One benefit of having such a range of product is that the company can appeal to a greater swathe of consumers and meet several needs at once.

However, this requires a comprehensive data strategy that can assess each individual component. Each brand has a specific customer and international presence, and thus requires a unique approach to optimize sales performance: Not only will every brand perform differently in a specific market, but it will also vary between different regions.

“‘Think global – act local’ has been a catchphrase for decades, but it’s much easier said than done,” said Greg Petro, CEO of retail predictive analytics company First Insight. “Creating a global assortment and then translating it effectively for local markets is a perennial challenge. Brands can have vastly different perceptions and positioning in different markets.”

This is not a new problem, but the evolution of technology means that brands are now able to equip themselves with software that can analyze data points for them and provide actionable results. First Insight focuses on “the voice of the consumer,” combining its data analysis with customer feedback for a three-dimensional view of how a brand and individual products are performing.

For a company like Wolverine Worldwide, this allows for a concrete base to make decisions for the 12 brands in its portfolio. By using a solution that is able to gather substantial data for each brand and market, clear patterns can be identified which then reduce risk and increase speed to market.

“First Insight has helped us to better understand our international consumer desires, enabling us to optimize our global product offerings,” said Kate Pinkham, global general manager and VP of Hush Puppies. “Additionally, by testing with different regions and leading with the winners, we are able to build confidence and increase sell-in with our international partners. We’re able to innovate faster and ensure our global partners are aligned on product, price points and marketing.”

Hush Puppies Grandpa
The Hush Puppies brand is relatively small in the U.S., but has significant global presence and is the number one footwear brand in several countries.
CREDIT: Hush Puppies

Brands of all sizes can benefit from a more fine-tuned assortment strategy, particularly as data shows the variations that arise between gender and age demographics. A recent First Insight survey found that 45% of women would require a discount of 30% or above to purchase footwear, compared to only 33% of men.

Millennials and Gen X favored 50% discounts by 25% and 24% respectively.

Yet many companies undervalue or ignore the data available to them, with negative consequences. Petro identified one commonly overlooked area as price solution data. If ignored, this can result in money left on the table (if prices are too low) or in excess inventory (if prices are too high). A second frequently ignored area is qualitative product feedback, which First Insight builds into its platform by surveying consumers directly about products that brands want to test.

“[Qualitative feedback] is invaluable for helping merchants and designers understand the ‘why:’ why people do or don’t like the product, why they’re buying it or not,” said Petro. “This can yield broader trends and insights into a target customer segment. We have found that customers want to be heard and want a way to share feedback.  Our platform lets them do that in a way that provides actionable data to retailers and brands.”

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