How ASICS saw its conversion increase by 40% through neuro-usability research

By Eltine van der Veer (Braingineers)

Thorough research into the usability of your online services pays off. An optimization project for the Shoe Finder tool from global sports brand ASICS broke even within 20 days and resulted in a spectacular boost in online conversion.

How can a store shopping experience with an experienced employee be translated into an online environment? That was the challenge that ASICS, Europe’s No. 1 manufacturer in stability running shoes, tackled about 2.5 years ago. Customer insights within ASICS showed that online visitors required a tool to find their perfect running shoe. No less than 80% of all runners wear the wrong shoes. This is how the idea for a product finder tool on the ASICS website came into being.

ASICS Shoe Finder

And so the first version, an MVP, of the ASICS Shoe Finder was born. A tool embedded in the ASICS website that allows you as a visitor to answer 4 simple questions – comparable to those of the employee in the physical store – to find the running shoe that best suits you and your running goals. Shoe Finder 1.0 quickly turned out to be a good online alternative to the offline shopping experience.

The impact of COVID-19 on running

Rick Hoving, Sr. Ecommerce Manager at ASICS EMEA, found that the Shoe Finder 1.0 could use a few more optimization steps regarding conversion, traffic, dropout and bounce rate. So ASICS and Crobox, the ecommerce product intelligence party with whom ASICS already collaborated, decided to improve the Shoe Finder in early 2020. Subsequently, when the COVID-19 crisis hit, that necessity suddenly became urgent (running became one of the most popular exercises during lockdowns).

The triptych collaboration

After various experiments by Crobox in the field of dynamic messaging, profiling and content improvement, components significantly improved. However, the MVP Shoe Finder was a hard-coded tool and ASICS decided to create a complete new tool, this time designed with a customer-centric approach. 

Braingineers established a partnership with ASICS to map the emotional experience of users with neuro usability research, with those insights being used as input to create the new Shoe Finder tool, this time based on quantitative, technical, psychological and emotional (customer) data. It marked the advent of a successful collaboration between ASICS, Crobox and Braingineers.

Getting to work

Using previously acquired insights from Crobox and quantitative data insights from ASICS from the Shoe Finder and its platform, a neuro usability research plan was drawn up. The Shoe Finder 1.0 was subjected to research on the question of how users experienced it on an subconscious, emotional level. By using EEG (a headset measuring electrical brain-activity for emotion detection), a neuro usability study was conducted to map bottlenecks, emotions and implicit behavior in the customer journey of the Shoe Finder.

The study showed a number of striking insights:

  • The product category “Trail running shoes”, which wasn’t part of the original Shoe Finder, turned out to be a desirable addition;
  • Several questions from the Shoe Finder were insufficiently understood by users;
  • A specific type of font used in certain parts of the Shoe Finder appeared to have a negative influence on UX / usability; it was hard to read and the font distracted from the purpose of the tool.

The result of the Shoe Finder was found not to match the user’s goal (shown in the image on top of the page). It showed, among other things, that users had difficulty understanding the Shoe Finder’s results, the page that should be the outcome of a search for the perfect running shoe. However, users were offered too many- or too few options, not realizing that results were based on filtering.  

All insights were translated from data and the science of psychology into actionable recommendations, which were used for (re)designs of the ASICS Shoe Finder. Within 6 weeks this resulted in a new ASICS Shoe Finder, called Shoe Finder 2.0.

The results

ASICS achieved unprecedented results in a relatively short period; A break-even point was reached within three weeks after implementation of the new tool, justifying the entire investment to realize Shoe Finder 2.0, not bad in terms of ROI. The Shoe Finder has since been online and has shown a conversion increase of no less than 40%.

How did ASICS make their data more human?

As Rick Hoving describes it “At ASICS we have an unprecedented amount of knowledge about shoes, running and its effect on the human body. By combining that data with ASICS’s quantitative online data and Braingineers’ neuro usability data and insights from consumer psychology, we have a winning combination. It allowed us to place technical knowledge and data in light of human behavior and the psychology behind it. It has led us to an improved Shoe Finder and with it, beautiful results. ”

By working this way, ASICS was able to realize an improved tool that is not only easy to use, but also incorporates the understanding of human behavior in order to arrive at the most desired result for the user.


Next steps

The ASICS Shoe Finder project exceeded several KPIs and expectations and is currently being scaled up. The tool will be further optimized based on behavioral data. Other neuro usability tests on Shoe Finder 2.0 provided new qualitative insights into how the new version scores on objective, emotional experience. As a spin-off, a ‘Gift Finder’ was launched and ASICS started product finders for other product categories (i.e. tennis, indoor, sports). In 2022 new versions and new apps will be built. All based on customer-centric designs.

In October 2021, the ASICS | Braingineers | Crobox case was nominated in the UK for the Engage Awards in the category ‘Best use of Customer Insights’.

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