BOCA RATON, FL: UGG, the footwear brand, has benefitted from using "aspirational segmentation" which seeks to understand consumers' future wants and needs, rather than simply their current ones.

Tim Twichell, director/consumer insights at Deckers Brands - which owns UGG - discussed its approach to gathering insights at The Market Research Event, an event held by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

"Segmentation is empowering: it allows you to see all of your different audiences … and understand how they're different," he said.

"In the case of UGG, there are people who use the same exact product for very different reasons. And why they buy is very different, and understanding that is important." (For more, see Warc's report: UGG's battle to embrace the value of market research.)

However, given that the firm's designers are generally working on goods that will not be on store shelves for more than a year, addressing their current preferences is of limited usefulness.

By contrast, an "aspirational segmentation" promises to supply future-facing insights by asking customers what they want next, about their ideal products and lifestyle, and how contributors perceived their fashion sense.

That type of model is often employed in the technology space, and attempts to anticipate the ways distinct groups of consumers might react to various possible scenarios, outcomes and products.

UGG developed five different "personas" - including "fashion mavens" and "creative artists" - which could help inform its strategy going forward.

The research process incorporated qualitative and quantitative elements, and even asked select participants to highlight objects and products they liked on Pinterest, the social media platform.

"It was pinning stuff that you are interested in regardless of whether it was in your house or not, which gave us a lot of fodder for this," said Twichell.

In presenting the findings, the company used physical installations containing everything from furniture to art and wine to help bring these segments to life for designers and brand teams.

"They don't want PowerPoint presentations," said Twichell.

Data sourced from Warc