Setting the scene

Football is an important category for New Balance. Its key products – Furon and Tekela – perform exceptionally in tests, and its boots are now worn by African footballer of the year, Sadio Mane, amongst others.

The context

New Balance approached Mustard to conduct consumer research to better understand its target customer, and to determine what elements of football boots are considered most relevant, salient and desirable. We wanted to understand what is most important to consumers when buying boots, and the relative weight of importance attached to each, what problems or challenges consumers face with their boots and whether they recognise the value of technologies. We also wanted to physically test some boot prototypes, and so needed a live and dynamic research method. Our research targeted “serious aspirers” (young people playing football to a high level) as well as well as a wider population of people playing in local leagues.

What we did

We used our mobile qualitative research app – Pickles – to have two weeks’ of continuous chat discussion with 12 serious aspirers. They logged their experiences of going online and in-store to browse / shop for boots. They provided pre and post-match analysis (in the moment) of how their boots were performing on different surfaces (all via the Pickles app). We also met face-to-face with a smaller sample to review sample product. Next, we engaged with almost 400 x young footballers via an online survey, and used a MaxDiff statistical technique to ascertain which elements were considered definitively most (and least) important in their decision making.

The results

We identified a series of perceived “problem areas” identified by footballers across all boot brands, and worked with the client to identify ways in which product and communications could alleviate these. The research was presented back to product and marketing teams in the UK and USA, with clear recommendations that would help inform future product design.

The response