How ASICS saw its conversion increase by 40 percent 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 day. 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 much urgent. After all, besides home workouts, running became one of the most popular exercises during lockdown, as gyms, sport clubs and outdoor group lessons were closed.

The triptych collaboration

After various experiments by Crobox in the field of dynamic messaging, profiling and content improvement, various components have significantly improved. However, the MVP Shoe Finder was a hard-coded tool. This meant that relatively little could be optimized in a simple manner. This required considerable development efforts, which was not an option at the time. To catch the momentum, Crobox proposed to create an all-new Shoe Finder, within just 6 weeks.

Shortly prior, Braingineers had established a partnership with ASICS. Braingineers, a Dutch scale-up, conducts research into the emotional experience of users by means of neuro usability research. The partnership created the opportune moment to create a new tool based on quantitative, technical, psychological and emotional data. This marked the advent of the collaboration between ASICS, Crobox and Braingineers.

Getting to work

Using the previously acquireEveryone who has ever traveled the world must be familiar with those touristy markets where pushy merchants overzealously try to sell you their goods. Before you know it, they shove their products into your hands, leaving you no time to consider your purchase. Perhaps you would have wanted to buy something, but the insensitive sales approach causes you to refrain from buying. This is a typical example of ‘psychological reactance’, and besides marketplaces, there are a ton of online examples of this tough conversion killer. d insights from Crobox and the quantitative data insights from ASICS about the Shoe Finder and its platform, a neuro usability research plan was drawn up by Braingineers. The Shoe Finder 1.0 was subjected to research on the question of how the user experiences it on an unconscious emotional level. By using EEG, a headset that translates electrical activity in the brain into emotions using an emotion detection algorithm, a neuro usability study was conducted to map out where unconscious bottlenecks in the emotional experience occurred while using the Shoe Finder.

The study showed a number of striking insights:

  • The product category “Trail running shoes”, which was not part of the initial ShoeFinder, turned out to be a desirable part of the Shoe Finder
  • Certain 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 the usability of the ShoeFinder; it was hard to read and the font distracted from the purpose of the tool.

The result of the ShoeFinder was found not to match the user’s goal (see Figure 2). The study showed, among other things, that users had difficulty understanding the Shoe Finder’s results.This page should be the outcome of your search for the perfect running shoe, but users were offered too many choices or too few, and they didn’t realize that the results were based on filtering. 

All these insights were translated from the science of psychology into concrete recommendations for adjustments. Subsequently, in consultation between Braingineers and Crobox, these recommendations were converted by Crobox into concrete designs for the ASICS Shoe Finder. After 6 weeks this resulted in the new ASICS Shoe Finder, called Shoe Finder 2.0.

The results

ASICS achieved unprecedented results in a relatively short period; the break-even point was already reached within 20 days of implementation of the new tool. The entire investment to realize the Shoe Finder 2.0 was thus justified. An unprecedented ROI after just 20 days. 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, the neuro usability data and the insights from consumer psychology, we arrived at the perfect combination. This allowed us to place technical knowledge and data in the light of human behavior and the psychology behind it. It has led us to this 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 has exceeded several KPIs on expectations and is currently being scaled up. This means, among other things, that the tool will be further optimized based on behavioral data. Another neuro usability test has recently been performed on the Shoe Finder 2.0 to provide qualitative insight into how the 2.0 version scores on the objective; emotional experience. In addition, the ‘giftfinder’ was launched in December 2020 and Asics will start actively implementing product finders for other product categories (such as tennis, indoor, sports). In 2021 its own app will be built.

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