The Challenge
Empirica Research offers a unique range of next generation consumer and social research for its clients in the US and Australia.

One of Empirica’s clients is Uncommon Ground – a new online shoe store. The challenge for this project was to provide:
–  a cost effective way of determining the percentage of women with size 9 or above feet (no Australian statistics on this were publicly available)
–  a way of exploring how women shop for shoes but in a way that is less susceptible to socially desirable responding (eg: if a researcher is there with the woman as they shop for shoes, the woman may be less likely to shop ‘naturally’)
–  a way of being ‘in the moment’ as women shop for shoes. This not only provides a deeper understanding of women’s shoe mind set whilst in shoe stores but also reduces the probability of incorrect data due to biases in recall and reporting after the fact.

The Solution
In an effort to meet this challenge, The Realise Group, Australia’s leading customer experience measurement company, recommended Empirica consider a solution utilising it’s Field Agent™ iPhone technology.

Field Agent™was best suited to this Uncommon Ground project as it provides a fast and affordable way of identifying their target market and collects responses and actual photos whilst respondents are in a ‘shoe shopping mind set’ and environment.

Empirica could have conducted the survey for Uncommon Ground, but that would have not captured the ‘in the moment’ data needed. Alternatively, Empirica could have conducted qualitative accompanied shopping trips with women, but not only would this have been time and cost prohibitive, having a researcher there may have changed the way women went about their shopping. Therefore, using Field Agent™ gave advantages that other research methods could not offer.

Using Field Agent™, the project was easily able to:
–  determine, from an initial sample of 1,000 respondents, the market size of women in Australia, aged between 18 and 35 years of age, who have size 9 or above feet
–  collect ‘in the moment’ anonymous data from respondents whilst unaccompanied in a shoe store
–  have the Agents take and upload photos providing Empirica with easily and immediately accessible images online.

The Project
Uncommon Ground wanted to gather robust data on the percentage of women who have size 9 and above feet in addition to understanding the real struggles these women experience when shopping for shoes.

The survey consisted of two parts:
–  part 1 – a survey of 1,000 respondents on the Field Agent™ App to identify the percentage of women with size 9 or above feet
–  part 2 – a targeted survey to 100 women who answered that they had size 9 or above feet. This involved these women going to a shoe store/s and taking two photos: one of a pair of shoes they love (regardless of whether it would actually be available in their size) and one of a pair of shoes that is available in their size. In addition to these photo requests respondents were also asked to answer survey questions about their experiences as a woman with size 9 and above feet.

The Results
Empirica and Uncommon Ground received invaluable research data using the latest Field Agent™ technology. First, it was a quick and cost-effective way of gathering data from a large sample of women to determine percentage who have size 9 or above shoes. Second, by coding photos for style, heel type and ‘fashionability’ and comparing the ‘dream shoes’ with the ‘shoes I’d actually buy’ they were able to understand the gap in the market. Third, the ability to be ‘in the moment’ as respondents were in shoe stores gave a much deeper understanding of ‘shoe mind set’ than would normally have been secured through traditional survey methods.

The ability to be ‘in the moment’ as respondents were in shoe stores gave a much deeper understanding of ‘shoe mind set’ than would normally have been secured through traditional survey methods.

Field Agent™ lifted both cost and time limitations on this project providing the following outcomes for Empirica and Uncommon Ground:
–  robust metrics on the size of the potential market of women with size 9 and above feet. This helps with business planning and provides strong evidence on the size of the market to potential investors
–  data on the target market behaviours, attitudes, value and shopping habits provided invaluable information for communications strategies and future business planning
–  verbatim comments from respondents to better understand the frustrations of women with size 9 and above feet helped provide a deeper knowledge and insight into target market concerns and opportunities
–  the photo task exercise brought to life the challenges that women with larger feet face when looking for shoes.

Respondent Comments & Sample Photos
“I would love to wear heels, but feel the support is just not there. Usually people with big feet are also taller and carry more weight. They need a bigger base.” Female, size 10 shoe, 28 years, shops 4+ times a year online.

“I love a more funkier style of larger shoe for size 11 ladies than just ballet flats to go out in.” Female, size 11 shoe, 25 years, shops 4+ times a year online

“Just because a woman has big feet it doesn’t mean she is 6 foot tall!” Female, size 9 shoe, 33 years, does not shop online.

“Shoes in my size are more available than they used to be but usually not in half sizes and usually in shoes that are the more ‘comfy’ ‘supportive’ styles.” Female, size 9.5 shoe, 34 years, shops online 4 times a year.

(a)  ‘Dream Shoes – The shoes I’d love to buy!’    



(b)  ‘Reality Shoes – The shoes I’d end up buying!’

(a)  ‘Dream Shoes – The shoes I’d love to buy!’

(b)  ‘Reality Shoes – The shoesI’d end up buying!’

Cassie Govan
Founding Partner, Empirica Research

“Field Agent™ gave us a unique way to approach this research challenge – and it worked brilliantly. It is easy for respondents to use and gives the flexibility of gathering data ‘in the moment’ and also capturing images – which is really worth a thousand words.”

Krissy Keifer
Founder, Uncommon Ground

“With Field Agent™, we were able to capture thoughts, feelings – and photographs! – from women while they were shopping for shoes. Being there ‘in the moment’ was so important for understanding how the women in our target market approach shoe shopping. We loved that there’s an emotional connection to our market rather than just working with purely hard data.”

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