Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Focus Groups

Last week we embarked on a trip to preside over focus group studies regarding our flip-flops. We hit the road to get to Fort Lauderdale for two sessions, and then flew over to San Diego for two more. It was a great chance to get out and talk to the actual people who just may well be wearing Vere flip-flops in a few years.

Our focus groups went as good as we hoped. Big thanks to Periquin Strategy out of Denver Colorado for setting up and conducting these great sessions. We sat with a number of people who wear flip-flops whenever they can. Part of ‘Flip-Flop Nation’ as one participant put it. We were able to sit in on a candid conversation about what they like/dislike about flip-flops, what their ideal pair would be like, and the ideal company that makes them. They were able to see our entire line of Vere Sandals, pick them up, and even try them on (as long as they were the right size). We were encouraged by the positive response and support for the Vere Sandal brand, as well as the strong interest in supporting US made products. We had always believed that people would do the right thing if it were made easy, and we are learning from the focus groups that in an “apple-to-apple” comparison, people will consider the domestically produced product. They also will be more interested if the company acted on their claims of manufacturing with an eye toward the environment. Our big challenge is to get the word out that Vere not only makes a high quality, comfortable sandal, but we make it here in the United States. Hopefully people (you included) will help us spread the good word.

When we weren’t at the focus group and traveling we kept ourselves busy. We had our share of meetings. One included an interesting discussion with the head of an industrial design firm on the scope of manufacturing in the US, and how this country can reclaim their industrial edge through process innovation (there were some interesting ideas that merit another blog entry at another time). We also met with some owners of local surf shops and with discussions on their business in general, as well as what product is moving, not moving, and what is in the future for the flip-flop market.

There was also a sliver of time to catch up with old friends and just enjoy the area. Which included some surf time (thanks to those who lent us some gear) as well as time to enjoy the local sites and of course cuisine. For the record, surfing makes the burritos in Pacific Beach taste even better...