User Research


5 min read

During my time as a Retail Buyer for the Women’s Footwear division at the Nike European HQ, I participated to retail marketplace visits across European cities such as Paris, Berlin, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Milan.
These visits contributed to understanding the local consumer needs and trends that allowed us to provide a curated SKU’s assortment at three specific levels: country, city and store area.

Once, in Paris, I had the chance to conduct a field research with the team. During a full day, we followed a few Parisians women’s. They showed us their home, favourite shopping places, hanging out spots and answered questions on their spendings habits.

Users knew in advance we were working for Nike. To avoid bias we reassured them to be as transparent as possible as we were not judging their buying habits or themselves.
Due to confidentiality policy, I won't share any pictures of participants.

Initial goal

Focusing on qualitative feedback, our initial goal was to have a deeper understanding of the female Parisians consumers to go a step further on the personalisation of the women’s footwear assortment.

Business context

Retail buying decisions are made with both quantitative and qualitative data.
The quantitative ones are made of daily data coming from Nike stores and platforms. While the qualitative ones are marketplace insights from the local retail teams.

We had five major stores located in a different area of Paris and the french Nike website to obsess.
The stores are located in diverse neighbourhoods of Paris:
- The Champs Elysées, the iconic shopping avenue
- La Défense, the business district
- Le Marais, the fashionable district
- Les Halles, the historic central location of the city
- Beaugrenelle, the glamorous district behind the Eiffel Tower

Each consumer going to each store has a distinct type of profiles and shopping behaviours.


The first assumption was to validate Parisians women’s shopping habits and discover an upcoming trend.
Based on data, we knew that certain footwear models, colours and fabrics were more successful in a specific area of Paris.

The second assumption was to understand why they will choose Nike products over competitors products.

The third assumption was to confirm that the consumers already know what they want.
For example, the runner enthusiast will know how to differentiate running products for her own benefits.


We had a diverse panel of eight women’s consumers with different:
- Age (from 18 to 32 years old)
- Professional or Educational statue
- Interests or places to hang out and shopping

One of their sharing attributes was their interest/passion for the Nike brand.

Research methods
“Observing people in their natural environment allows you to learn the unexpected and to understand how well systems work when people are distracted, in noisy places, and in normal situations for them, such as with family, social, or work groups.”
Quote from the Nielsen and Norman Group

We divided our team into four groups that were following two individuals for an entire day.

‍We used three research methods to gather insights:

Direct observation
We let them showed us and give additional information on where they were living, their wardrobe style, their preferred stores/shopping mall and had lunch at their favourite local cafe/restaurant.

Field interviews
Throughout the day, we could ask why they are buying this specific clothes and shoes or why they are shopping at this particular place.

Moderated usability study
We asked them to show us how they are shopping on the Nike app with their mobile device. If they never used it, we asked them why and to give a try to share any comments.

Main learnings
“I can find more Nike shoes I like in Footlocker.”

Consumers think that wholesale commerce has more Nike products than the Nike website. That’s also why they never used the Nike app or website to shop Nike products.

“Why do I see football stuff? I want products that match my interests!”

They could easily find products that match their interests in stores. While on the app, they wanted to see products that match their interest earlier during the user journey.

“I wear Nike because of the social values in term of diversity and inclusion that resonate with me.”

Today’s consumers are not loyal to one brand. But they will mostly buy from brands where they can identify herself and shared values.

“If I buy this shoes, it means I won’t run as fast as with the other ones?”

They don’t understand the wording that is supposed to guide their buying decisions based on their running style.

Actions taken

Reinforce omnichannel communication

We partner with the retail and the digital marketing teams to communicate on the benefits for consumers to join the membership program.
Consumers can access to exclusive products that can be found only in Nike stores or Nike website (and not in wholesale channel). They can also get additional promotions and early access to specific products.

To bridge the gap between stores and digital, consumers can try products in store and get deliver for free at their home.

We implemented colourful membership tags for a selection of SKU’s in stores and on the website to be more visible.

Listen to the user

Due to a large amount of SKU's, consumers felt lost on the different groups and sub-group of products.

For example, the running footwear collection distinguished three silos, respectively called “faster”, “longer” and “stronger”. Consumers didn't understand them, even the store team had difficulty to explain them clearly. It created frictions in the user journey.

We pitched back this issue to the retail and digital marketing team to influence the UX microcopy. We had to simplify our communication as "we tend to talk to ourself”.

Nike brand and social statements are strong

Stay true to the brand core values by proposing products that match social identities. It explains the reason why consumers are choosing Nike products over different brands.


Thank you for having taking the time to consult my work.

Today, with the growth of customer awareness, people want to be heard and feels privilege when they are buying a service or a product.
The field experiment helped us to validate some assumptions on women’s Parisians favourite Nike shoes. But it also helped us to discover hidden thoughts on spending habits and communication.

What went well

Being able to follow and talk with consumers in their natural environment helped us to understand the “why” behind some buying decisions.
It also helped us discover frictions in the user experience that could be adjusted (think less is more).

What could be better

As Nike it’s a massive corporation, it can takes a lot of time and communication to implement changes. Because decisions need to be approved at several levels of hierarchy with many stakeholders, ideas are not always supported or implemented.
I.e: the silo naming for running products, for example, didn’t change since our market visit one year ago.  


Our emphasis on the membership program helped us to interact better with both the existing and new consumers. It drove additional sales revenue and especially a better user experience overall.

Women's consumers signing up to membership program in Paris increased by +16% after three months our market trip.
Over the same period, it generated an increase in customers loyalty as we saw an increase of +6% on existing consumers revenue growth and +11% on repeat purchase.


People ignore design that ignores people.