Data-informed Strategies

A conversation with New Balance: Building a consumer-obsessed culture

Team MakerSights

January 24, 2022

Data-driven, surging e-commerce, the digital age – it’s nearly impossible to avoid these headlines in retail today. It’s even harder to make sense of it all and understand where to start. 

After nearly two years since our last in-person gathering, we were thrilled to take the stage at PI Apparel’s Supply Chain and Product Development Conference in New York to explore these very issues. 

New Balance Director of Consumer Insights and Analytics Charles Wilson joined Maker/Sights CEO Dan Leahy to discuss the consumer-obsessed culture that has fueled the iconic brand’s resurgence as a global leader in footwear. 

During their conversation, Dan and Charles discussed many of the questions you may be asking: Where do I start? What does consumer obsession actually look like? Why should design, product, and merchant teams even use data? And who’s responsible at my brand for making this all happen?

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Adapting to the new retail norms

The pandemic has disrupted norms across the retail industry. Store closures gave way to surging e-commerce sales as consumers became more comfortable shopping online. Yet for many brands, the transition to digital hasn’t been an entirely smooth one. Many teams, especially those in product creation and merchandising, are used to holding and evaluating physical prototypes and samples. New Balance saw these disruptions as an opportunity to be closer to the consumer. 

2. Finding common ground with data  

Data has traditionally been siloed at brands. Some teams handle products, others handle data and consumer insights. To prevent the weaponization of data and preserve creativity in product design, these barriers often still exist today. New Balance reframed the role of data to unify and align their teams around a common goal. 

3. Gaining traction with Design, Product, and Merchandising

Product creation and merchandising teams factor in endless considerations when adopting a new product or choosing the right colorway. It can be overwhelming enough to deal with the usual considerations, let alone incorporate new consumer information from insights teams. For New Balance, successfully integrating data into product creation hinged on building trust.

4. Building a culture around the consumer 

Brands must begin to orient their product decisions around consumers to stay competitive in ecommerce and direct-to-consumer environments. For most, the biggest challenge is getting started. Who should be leading consumer-obsessed decision making within your brand? How can you set your brand up for success? And how long will it take? 

New Balance’s successful journey to consumer-obsession is full of helpful tips and strategies. If you’d like to catch the full conversation between Dan and Charles, click here

Want to be consumer obsessed and leverage data like New Balance? Reach out to Maker/Sights to get started today. 


Team MakerSights

Related Blog Posts

55 Statistics Shaping the Retail Industry in 2023

To provide a little insight into what’s likely coming down the pike, we’ve rounded up the recent statistics that we think retailers should keep top of mind over the next twelve months. From operational efficiencies to digital transformation to responsible fashion, here are 55 stats that we believe are key indicators of what’s to come in the new year.

Team MakerSights

Read Now

Creative Ambitions vs. Commercial Realities: How Product Creation and Consumer Insights Teams Can Work Better Together

One team’s success doesn’t have to come at the other’s expense. In fact, it’s proven that brands perform better when these two groups work together.

Team MakerSights

Read Now

The Evolution of Retail Pricing: What’s Changed and Where Brands Must Focus Next

In this time of of fluctuating costs and economic uncertainty, brands should consider re-evaluating pricing strategies and architecture, balancing the need to protect margins and brand integrity while driving sales.

Team MakerSights

Read Now

Reach out to schedule a free demo with our team. Fill out the form and we'll be in touch within 24 hours.

Book a demo