Sep 05, 2023

Cracking the Code: Service Design and the Value of Investigating Consumer Behavior

Find out how adidas is embracing service design to deliver the best consumer experience.
by Karen Rozenbaumstaff

Two years ago, we established a special in-house team at adidas called Service Design to make sure we put you, the consumer, right at the heart of everything we do. This was a big deal for me and a major highlight of my career, I even shared the whole process and some tips in an article last year. Since then, our team has grown to seven awesome people, delivering great value to our teams, and to our consumers like you and everyone who loves adidas.

To give you an idea of what we’ve been doing, my colleague Aura Patino talked about how we set up important consumer-centric North Stars for our internal teams to use as a guide. Diana Gomez then took the discussion further and shed light on our Service Design Framework, which is where we turn insights into real actions. And now without further do, I’m excited to take you even deeper by showing you not only how we’re cracking the code of our consumers, but how we’re sharing this code with our teams and how it influences their work.

Our code breaking journey begins with a chat

Let’s go back to the beginning of 2022. That’s when we teamed up with the Consumer Experience (CX) Digital Partner Commerce crew inside adidas. Our goal was to figure out how consumers like you and I shop for apparel, sportswear, and performance products online, especially on marketplaces that sell a variety of brands and products like Amazon or Zalando. We then set out on an international expedition: To chat up with people from around the world.

Consumer experience matters.Consumer experience matters.

In four different regions, we planned interview guidelines and exercises to investigate how consumers shop online in a multi-brand environment. We engaged in 24 chats and unveiled fresh insights that could help us navigate through the intricacies of your online retail behavior.

Here’s something interesting we found out: no matter where you like to shop, your browsing and shopping behavior is pretty much the same. And the big determining factors that influence a person’s shopping behavior come down to three different types of consumers. The first type of consumer is the focused shopper, who knows exactly what they want. Then there are the researchers who like to explore and spend more time analyzing and clicking through product images and details. And finally, we have the browsers, who are just looking around and passing time, not necessarily keen on buying something but they might save something in their wish list for later. Have you ever been one of these consumers? Cool, right? But those insights were just the beginning. Now it was time to redraw that map into something that was more up-to-date.

Turning our research into a journey map

Now comes the time to take what we learned from our in-depth interviews and present them in a way that would be valuable for our internal teams. After all, a research report saved to a folder as a PDF won’t magically push adidas forward and make our consumers happy all by itself.

Based on what we learned from our global consumer research study that outlines our three different types of shoppers, further enriched by another set of research findings from two other studies the Consumer Experience (CX) team recently conducted in collaboration with internal User Research (UXR) team, we began to draw up a journey map. Trying to figure out what a journey map is? Imagine this: it’s a map that shows your step-by-step behavior from the moment you think about buying a piece of sportswear to the point where you’re about to make a decision.

What makes this map so special, you might still be asking yourself. Well, it’s like a guide for all the internal people behind the scenes whose job it is to also make sure adidas products look awesome online, are relevant for what you’re browsing for, and gives you a taste of what a particular product might look and feel like when you use it.

And this map contains key information for our internal teams that handle the product imagery and content distribution to our various partners, ratings & reviews, and the list goes on. Just take a moment to think about all the factors that play into you making a purchase and feeling good after you click BUY IT NOW — we’ve got you covered in this journey map.

The Service Design team at adidas constantly strives to meet the wants and needs of our consumers.The Service Design team at adidas constantly strives to meet the wants and needs of our consumers.

Unveiling the moments of truth

Imagine you’re scrolling through our products online. You find something you like, but you can’t touch it or try it on. So, what do you do? You become a detective! You check every picture that shows the product from all the different perspectives and angles; you read through the product descriptions; and maybe, you even peek at what other people who previously bought the item say in the reviews. In our findings, we categorized these behaviors a big moment – we call them ‘key moments of truth.’

These are crucial moments in the consumer journey that can make or break a consumer’s entire shopping experience. One of the key things that we found out in our research is that when people buy online, they exhibit ‘multi-layered’ behavior. Because we cannot feel or try on the actual product, we tend to spend more time analyzing every single inch of product info that’s available. We want to imagine if and how it would fit us and to guarantee we are getting good value for money.

For instance, we’ve identified that one of the most critical phases of the shopping experience is when you are informed about the product details. Once you’ve completed your primary research, we’ve also found that our models featured on our product pages also play an important role in the shopping experience. “Seeing [it on] other people give me at least the impression that I am trying it on“, said one of our interviewees. This confirms that our consumers love to see real people wearing their prospective purchases, and they also like videos that show how pieces of apparel fit and feel – they even want to zoom in on the material to get as close up to the product as virtually possible!

Why are all these findings so important? Besides the fact that each detail helps us understand what is important to you while you’re shopping, it also helps our internal teams who are in contact with our retail partners; it empowers them to share relevant images, product content, and ratings with our retailers to enhance your browsing experience as you navigate multi-brand platforms, looking for adidas products.

Bringing it all together

After we collect insights and discover key moments of truth, we tap our internal team on the shoulder and say, “Hey, our friends out there really care about these things!” Then, we work together to make everything better. It sounds simple but trust me. It’s not. Through a series of one-to-one sessions with the internal teams, we moved deep dive into the Service Blueprinting and identify the activities, gaps, and opportunities, in the backstage, that we are doing (or not) to deliver a consumer’s desired experience. We then make recommendations for the key for the teams to prioritize their activities based on the moments that are most important for you.

So next time you’re shopping for sportswear online, remember that there’s a team of people behind the scenes, at adidas, and more specifically, in our digital retail partners team, working hard to make your experience awesome. We’re all in this together, making sure you get the best of adidas products every time you search for a sportswear article online. Let’s keep rocking this journey together!