Comparison Matrix

i am a product developer in the footwear fashion sector and my personal (company defined) objective this year is to take my annual benchmarking study to the next level.

essentially i take a number of our models and compare to a direct competitor. In previous seasons, this has been purely development focused: production efficiency, material yields, tooling complexity etc etc.

this has been an internal success, however we have been asked to make this years study more “consumer focused”.

my concern is as follows: marketing, design and development have distinct roles. How do i gain relevant, subjective feedback from customers, without treading on the toes of my design and marketing teams? surely comments regarding color blocking or material choice are not relevant coming from the development group?

maybe i should just focus on developing laces that dont get loose whilst walking then everyone is happy.

however, your feedback on which topics you think could be covered would of course be very welcome.

Hey Haphe, great topic.

I have a question: what’s your role exactly? It sounds like you are more in kind of engineering or manufacturing. Am I way off?

No matter if you are worried about stepping on toes, you should try to get your other departments on board. They will know what questions are most relevant for them. They are the experts in those fields. They can also help in focusing your research on the relevant market segments.

Every team member has a different perspective. Your analysis of the consumer will be unique and help your designers and marketers see outside of their views and do their jobs better.

footwear development. it means something different for different brands, but the essentials remain; we primarily offer expertise on tooling creation, upper construction and material choice and are the communication channel to the production locations. we must ensure that a design brief makes it through conception, development, commercialization, production and shipping on time and on cost without compromising quality or design intent.

the issue in this instance is that i feel the definition of my project exceeds the boundaries of my influence. i have set criteria from my seniors to compare one footwear model directly to another and gain customer feedback. i would be concerned about fit and comfort, however we have a product testing department and that is a politically dangerous move. colors and materials? marketing spend a great deal of budget traveling and researching these aspects…

so if a developer cannot provide feedback on fit and wear aspects, nor can they offer advice on silhouettes, material direction or color trends…what is left?

how it looks after 6 weeks wear? perform an analysis of the top five touch points when someone picks it up from a rack? create 3 pairs with varying levels of reinforcements and heel counter combinations and grade the consumer response…?