Case Study

International fashion retailer

The Brief

The client was a leading international womenswear retailer.

One of their most important product categories was significantly under performing. The client had various theories for why this may the case. They wanted to check whether these were also considered relevant by customers. But they also wanted to explore other possible reasons from current and prospective customers that they may not have considered.


Because the research was exploratory, designed to answer “why” type questions, it was decided to undertake it qualitatively. The alternative would have been a survey, but we needed to hear feedback from customers in their own words.

So we recruited a sample of 20 women. Half of them were the client’s existing customers and half were target demographic customers.  We recruited the existing customers via an online recruitment survey with a client customer database. We recruited the target customers through a traditional focus group recruiter.

All participants were asked to visit one of the client’s largest stores (from a choice of 5) and browse their website, before taking part in an online focus group.

Within the group no participant was allowed to see any other participants’ answers to the various questions. That way, we knew that if several people gave a similar answer then this was not because they had been swayed by what other people had said.


The research revealed the key reasons for the poor performance of the category. Some had been suspected by the client, but others had not. In fact, the research showed that store layout was a particular issue. In addition, the drivers of store traffic were quite different to those assumed by the client.  Because the results were so clear, it was decided that a follow up survey was not necessary.

What the client said

This was our first project with the client and they told us they were delighted. They have commissioned two further research projects since. Their words were that “Everyone has found it [the research] absolutely brilliant and extremely helpful…”