In Boston University's AdLab Fall 2012, I was the Account Planner for Piper Waveworks, a start-up handboard company in Ocean City, New Jersey. The Debrief contains research, insights, and recommendations on how to launch their innovative products in the marketplace.
3Background:Piper Waveworks was founded in 2011, and is an innovative company that developshybrid hand-boards. Co-founders Matt Daly and Trevor Higgins procured a passion for ridingwaves as children, spending summer days on the beach. Piper Waveworks is dedicated toproviding one-of-a-kind, inexpensive products that allow people greater access to the nichewater sports that so many enjoy.Durable, yet buoyant and lightweight, Piper boards provideconsumers with a safe, well-made product.Piper Waveworkshas continued to refine the ideal hand-board design, and has plans tolaunch a two-handed model, as well as a one-handed, more classic model. In an effort toestablish an online presence before the launch of the product, the brand has constructed awebsite, Facebook and Twitter profile.
4Research Objectives:Piper Waveworks is faced with the following challenges:As a start-up company in a niche-sport, Piper Waveworks is currently unknown to itstarget audience.o Piper Waveworks needs to identify a relevant target audience and gain insightinto their lifestyle in order to successfully introduce their products.o Piper Waveworks needs to become the ultimate advocate for the sport of handboarding.In order to find a solution to these challenges, the Account Planner developed a researchplan to:Gain insight about the target audiences lifestyle and media usage.Understand what type of advertising resonates most with the target audience.Get feedback from the target audience about new logo designs and slogans.Determine how best to reach the target audience through guerilla marketing and socialmedia.
5Research Methodology:Qualitative ResearchThe Account Planner conducted two in-person interviews.o One interview was conducted on November 21st, 2012 with a 17-year-old highschool male student who frequently participates in water-sports.o One interview was conducted on November 24th, 2012 with a 21-year-old malewho frequently participates in water-sports.o Participants were asked 15 questions about their lifestyle, media habits, attitudestowards advertising, and about their opinions on new Piper Waveworks products,logos, and slogans.o The interviewees did not receive any participation incentives.The Account Planner conducted one focus group on November 28, 2012 with sixparticipants.o Focus group participants were men 16-22 who are active, adventurous, and haveparticipated in water-sports.o The participants were given pizza and soda as incentives, provided by theAccount Planner.Quantitative ResearchThe Account Planner conducted a survey via www.surveymonkey.como The survey was distributed via Facebook to men 16-22 who live in coastal areasand received 64 completed responses.
6o The survey was structured to develop key insights about how to best reach thetarget audience,their lifestyle habits, purchase motivators, favoriteadvertisements and media usage patterns.Target Audience Description:Piper Waveworks target audience is Generation Y Men between the ages of 16 and 22.They are active and adventurous individuals, always looking for the next thrill. They frequentlyparticipate inrecreational activities like basketball, football, pool, video games, and working out.When summer approaches, they gravitate towards the outdoors and run outside, visit thebeach, and go boating. The target audience either lives near the ocean or frequently goes tothe beach in the summer.This target audience consists of budget-conscious individuals, becausethey are still enrolled in high school or college. They typically save theirmoney for fun, socialactivities. Their world can be stressful with the pressures of college or the real world quicklyapproaching, therefore they have a variety of fun outlets to relieve stress. These outletsincludeentertainment (movies, video games etc.), night life (meeting girls, drinking, concerts, etc.) andsports (live games, fantasy football, etc.). These on-the-goconsumersarealso extremely media-savvy. They are always online, typically using several devices simultaneously for social purposes.This audience is quickly bored or distracted and often multi-tasksby browsing Facebook, texting,surfing the web, or watching online videos.
7Key Findings:1. The majority of the target audience is unaware of what hand-boarding is; therefore, theirlack of awareness has also led to a lack of interest in Piper Waveworks products.o 85 % of survey respondents have never heard of hand-boarding.o 48.8 % of survey respondents would not be interested in buying the Piper board.o Interviewees and the majority of focus group participants initially said they werenot interested; however after showing them the companys promotion video anddescribing the sport their attitudes became exponentially more positive.o After seeing the video, one focus group participant explains, That looksawesome. I had no idea how the board would work, but seeing it in usemakes it way more appealing to me. o Another focus group participant explains, Oh, this is completely differentthan I pictured. I thought it would be more like a boogie board, but itsmuch more interesting. It seems more exciting since its just your body andthe board is like a natural extension of your hand.2.The best way to reach the target audienceis through viral and word-of-mouth marketing.o Almost half of the survey respondents listed Youtube.com as the website theyused most often besides social networking sites.o 57.8% of respondents learn about sport equipment products from friends andfamily, while 78.1% of respondents use Internet sites.o A study by PewResearch Center reveals that for Gen Ys, technology is theirwindow to the world.It is their source of information and it is theirsource forentertainment. It is the platform for their social lives.
8 In a typical day, 68.3% of survey respondents spend 1-3 hours on socialnetworking sites.3. Males 16-22 view the beach as a place to socialize with friends through an array ofphysical activities.Therefore, Piper Waveworks should utilize Guerrilla marketing thatsexperiential, interactive and engages the target audience when they are out with theirfriends.o The Design Lounge study reveals that Millenials want to experience the worldfirsthand and pass their own judgment, and they like to do so with theirfriends.Consequently, they respond well to interactive, guerrilla marketingbecause they can test your product and decide for themselves. An experienceturns in to a lasting memory that resonates with the target audience more thantraditional advertising.o 76.6 % of survey respondents participate in water activities like surfing, boogieboarding, and body surfing, etc.o 75% participate in games such as Frisbee and football, etc.4. Piper Waveworks should emphasize the hand-boards portability and small price tag.o Water sports that utilize smaller, less expensive equipment are more popular. 86% of survey respondents own a Boogie Board and 52% own a SkimBoard compared to 30% own a surfboard and 26% own a paddleboard. 72% of survey respondents stated that their average allowance/incomewas less than 500 dollars a month.o Five of the focus group participants have rented a surfboardmultiple times onvacation but all of them own a boogie board or a skim board.
9o One interviewee who currently owns a paddle board and a surfboard explains,Surfing and paddle-boarding are probably my favorite activities to do at thebeach. However, when asked if there was any aspect of the sports he did not likehe complained about the large size of the equipment, struggling toattach it to his vehicle, having to clean it every time he leaves the waterand stressing about storing it.o Despite being budget-conscious, survey respondents still desire a quality product. 88% of survey respondents placed quality before price as the factor thatmatters to them when choosing sporting equipment.5. Funny advertisements resonate most with the target audienceo An overwhelming 87.7% of survey respondents said they enjoy humorous ads.o Both interviewees and four focus group respondentsdescribed funny commercialswhen asked if they recalled a recent commercial they enjoyed.o When asked about a recent advertisement he enjoyed, one intervieweedescribed a Panda Express commercial, It was great. Two talking pandas, onepanda flying through the air, whats not to love? In addition, he even recalled the tag line Experience Pandamondiumsaying it was clever and awesome.o One Interviewee recalled the Dr. Pepper 10 Fantasy Football commercialsaying, its hilarious because it described guys perfectly. Ladies, why is he watching this snoozer of a game? Because Im on hisfantasy football team. So he gets pretend points if I win. Its a guy thing. Keep your reality TV and lady drinks, were good. Dr. Pepper 10, its notfor women
10o Focus participants all agreed that the new Dodge dart commercial wasextremely enjoyable because it was witty but intriguing. My favorite part is when they say call in the nerds and actual computernerds show up and then they say no the other nerds and astronauts showup. Its interesting and funny, just great.o Focus group participants a