Within its first two years, the rising-star sneaker startup sold a million pairs of its unique wool shoes, helping it grow to over 400 employees this year. In 2018, investors such as T. Rowe Price, Tiger Global—even NBA star Andre Igoudala—poured $77 million into the company.
Even as Allbirds carves a piece out of the $20 billion US sneaker market, it’s also setting its sights internationally. Since its launch, it’s expanded into more than 18 countries, with more on the way.
So how does a scrappy shoe startup grow so fast and build so much enthusiasm so quickly? Like everything in the sneaker industry, it’s all about brand.
Allbirds’s ultra-comfortable, casual-chic, intensely eco-conscious brand is resonating with consumers all over the world, and nobody is more aware of its power than the team at Allbirds.
“Our short-term and long-term financial performance is dependent on how strong our brand is. We see there’s a clear correlation between brand awareness and hard financial metrics like sales and conversions.”
Dinesh Gaur, director of analytics at Allbirds
Since Allbirds’s brand is so important to its success, it’s critical that Gaur keeps a close eye on the company’s brand health, and SurveyMonkey Audience is the sole tool that he uses for the job.
Making the switch to an agile market research program
Like many companies in the clothing industry, Allbirds used a third-party research agency to track its brand health when it first launched. But Gaur found the back-and-forth process of working with an agency to be pricey, slow, and unwieldy.
“If we wanted to make small changes to a questionnaire or do additional analysis, we were dependent on the agency to do it for us,” he said. “Also they just lacked the context behind why the data was moving a certain way in a report.”
As head of analytics, Gaur is more than comfortable digging into the data to see why it’s trending in one direction or another. But when the data is spread out among a dozen powerpoint decks from the agency, it becomes difficult to get into the weeds.
“If I want to see what happened in February of 2018, I’d have to go through all their decks to see if the information I’m looking for is readily available,” he said. “If not, I’d have to contact them to have them send it to me.”
Finally, the agency delivered brand tracking reports to Allbirds on a quarterly basis, which didn’t give the company enough time to react to the findings of the report.
That’s when Gaur began using SurveyMonkey Audience to run his own brand tracking program for a fraction of the cost—on his own timeline, and his own terms.
“One distinct advantage SurveyMonkey Audience has given me is to reduce the time to research considerably,” he said. “If I wanted to launch a study in France, I could create and launch the questionnaire in 48 hours, which would have taken weeks with an agency.”
Cutting out the middleman between him and SurveyMonkey Audience’s panel meant Gaur had full control over his survey design and his data.
It meant if he needs something changed in his survey, all he has to do is go in and do it himself. If he wants to look at data from specific time period, all he has to do open his SurveyMonkey account and look.
It’s perfect for someone like Gaur who’s comfortable taking research into his own hands to get his own business-changing insights for Allbirds. At SurveyMonkey, we call an approach like this an agile market research framework.
Monitoring brand performance at your own pace
With the help of SurveyMonkey Audience Product Specialists, Gaur set up a brand tracker that continuously monitors Allbirds’s brand health in key markets, collecting more than 14,000 responses over the course of a year. That means that instead of reading reports every quarter, he can consistently stay up to date and act quickly when issues arise.
Not only does SurveyMonkey Audience help Allbirds stay nimble in the hyper-competitive sneaker industry, but it allows it to get an edge as the team quickly expands into new countries.
Months before entering a new market, Gaur will run benchmarking studies to get a baseline of Allbirds’s brand awareness in that market. He explores how different consumer segments perceive Allbirds’s brand and what they would expect to pay for products like Allbirds.
The freedom for Gaur to quickly run his own market research studies whenever he wants is critical to Allbirds’s success.
“We always have new hypothesis or idea to test, and the speed with which we can do that becomes very important,” he said. “It’s crucial to developing a strong brand that helps us acquire and develop a loyal and profitable customer base.”