Online Surveys Guide Wrangler Ads, Products

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An online panel and surveys have helped Wrangler tailor ads and product selection to the target audience of its "Twenty X" youth line.


The 10-year-old brand, marketed by Vanity Fair Corp.'s Wrangler division, is billed as hip western wear for 16- to 25-year-olds.


To determine whether its ads and products in the jeans and clothing line resonate with core customers, Wrangler formed an Internet panel of 100 consumers in that age group about a year ago. It routinely e-mails them surveys from online survey software firm WebSurveyor in Herndon, VA.


Definition 6, a digital marketing and technology firm in Atlanta, handles the database.


"We know that age group is interested in the Web, [and] it's a great opportunity to get feedback from them," said Joe Broyles, market intelligence analyst with Vanity Fair Corp. "We want to know what's going on in the consumer's life."


Every six to eight weeks, Wrangler e-mails a new "assignment," or survey, to its panel. The assignment, developed by a team within Wrangler that includes executives in marketing, merchandising and other departments, focuses on one topic instead of several different ideas.


In one assignment, Wrangler sent photos of shirts the company was developing to get an idea of which styles the panel would buy.


"We've shown them different concepts we're working on to make sure we weren't just taking this and running with it," Broyles said.


Taking it a step further, Wrangler showed panelists photos of best-selling Twenty X items in its stores to see whether their views reflected product sales.


"Our best sellers in stores matched what they wanted," Broyles said. "This allowed us to feel more confident that the results on new product concepts were accurate."


The panel also reviewed print ads for Twenty X clothes and chose the one it liked best. Those with writing and sketches on the ads resonated, but panelists shared their feedback on how to improve the ads.


"For example, most of the original ads did not do a good job of calling out that this was the Twenty X brand. We had to re-create the ad to make sure we called out the brand name," Broyles said.


Even point-of-sale materials have been tested.


"What would make them come over to a particular rack? We've gotten great feedback on that," he said.


The online panel's response rate to the surveys averages 95 percent, possibly in part because they are incentivized to participate with free Twenty X clothes as well as gift cards to Starbucks, Blockbuster, Wal-Mart and other retailers.


Other online surveys have been used simply to learn what the 16- to 25-year-old consumer is interested in. Wrangler asked panelists this month about entertainment choices, including the type of music they listen to and their favorite TV shows, possibly to team up with those entertainment properties in future marketing.


Broyles and other marketers say online surveys cut back on consumer research costs. Wrangler found they cost 70 percent to 80 percent less than traditional focus groups, but Broyles said the savings is that high because Wrangler has its own database.


Whirlpool, another marketer using WebSurveyor's online surveys, said it cut costs 97 percent when using online surveys instead of traditional methods. Also, it sent about 70 online surveys to customers last year and got 52,000 responses.


"Electronic surveys get so much more response than paper," said Tom Lueker, chief marketing officer at WebSurveyor. "Paper surveys tend to be single digits while online surveys are about 30 percent. And you can know the answer to your question in five minutes."


However, online surveys do not replace other research methods, marketers say.


"It just adds another weapon in the arsenal," Broyles said. "You can still do focus groups and quantitative studies."


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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