A Niche Backpack Brand Enters a Big Box Retailer: Quantitative & Qualitative Research


A leader in outdoor carry-solutions (backpacks), was only sold on the company’s website, Amazon, REI, and outdoor specialty stores. As the company wanted to continue to grow and diversify its brand portfolio, it had a unique opportunity to distribute the product throughout a big box retailer with 850 stores and 17 million people shopping at the store. While there was a strong upside to selling the product at a retailer, there was a potential risk of isolating the company’s niche target audience and damaging its current brand equity. As a result, the outdoor company wanted to determine if entering a big-box retailer is the correct move. 


The solution was two-phase, Provoke Insights used a mixed methodology of quantitative and qualitative research to meet the company’s business objectives. 

The first phase of the research was to understand how the current customers differ from the customers shopping at the retailer. In this quantitative phase, the research delved deep into buying behaviors, price points, product interest, shopping habits, expectations, and outdoor behavior. The research included a gap analysis to determine the difference between the two target audiences.

In addition, to create an optimal backpack for this new audience, Provoke Insights conducted a conjoint analysis.  A market simulator was developed from this advanced analytics technique to help create an ideal backpack. Using the market simulator (made in Excel), the client can toggle between attributes choices to determine the market potential for each combination 

In the second phase, Provoke Insights conducted online AI qualitative research. This research delved deep into buying behaviors, product interest, purchasing/shopping habits, expectations, and product placement of carriers in the store. It also asked about potential marketing initiatives.

The approach is unique as it uses artificial intelligence to analyze verbatims in real-time. The dashboard allows participants to vote on ideas generated from the group session.

The participants were shown two packs as well as four different in-store displays by other brands. During the research, a photo of the backpack section was also shown to participants.


In the first phase of the research project, Provoke Insights determined that it would be advantageous for the backpack company to distribute products in the massive retail store. The research also provided an understanding of how the current customer differs from the potential customer. The client also used the market simulator to help create a new line of backpacks for the audience.

The qualitative research gave further nuanced insights into the new customer. The brand learned what the ideal backpack would be for this customer, the displays that resonate best among them, and how the audience perceives the brand, etc. The client also discovered several marketing initiatives to help with the brand launch.

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