The ski rental market is transitioning. Several new players with disruptive business models have entered the market and threaten the traditional approach.

The Salomon team was aware that its Alps based in-house design team with unlimited access to ski slopes on its doorstep, could sometimes struggle to empathise with renters that had to travel from farther afield such as those residing in the UK.

In order to gather unbiased and objective insights, they approached WMP.

The brief was to capture in minute detail, the entire user journey; from initial holiday research and planning, through to travel to a ski resort, getting kitted out and finally returning rental equipment at the end of the holiday.

We used several methodologies and techniques to uncover the insights and to interrogate and validate every step of the user journey. Importantly, our research highlighted all of the pain points and identified areas of opportunity.

Rather than creating a formal written report detailing our findings, WMP delivered our findings through a visual presentation and a journey map that would serve to inspire Salomon designers during ideation.

We used qualitative human-centered design methods to follow customers throughout their rental journey; from planning a holiday through to returning to their country of origin.

The aim was to:

Define the user journey and establish accurate personas.

Identify opportunities within rental that better support the real needs of end-users.

Uncover attitudes of various holiday goers through observing the rental experience, in context.

Capture the emotional journey and any differences between expectation and reality.

Improve the customer experience, and define the future of rental.

Tools and Methods

We used a mix of research methods to engage with a range of participants. These methods helped us understand user and rental staff behaviour, challenges, aspirations, needs and preferences.

Salomon and WMP teams worked closely together on the ground to gather findings and synthesize the results.

This initiative looked at building the capabilities of the Salomon team in the field of consumer research. Team members from various departments participated in practical training, exploring observation and interview methods first hand.

For the duration of the research on site, WMP and Salomon members broke into 2 groups each day to carry out observations in a range of stores; from independent to larger rental chains, and intercept interviewed both staff and holiday goers on the slopes.

The team also participated in 1-1 interviews with people recruited directly on-site over 10 days.

A synthesis of collected information was completed daily, and each team member got to share their learnings. This ensured that the gathered observations were classified and reframed each day towards specific findings as required.

The results of this research are highly confidential and cannot be disclosed.

What can be shared is that the Salomon team were extremely grateful for the insights gained through this project. The user journey map is now firmly affixed to the design studio wall and the detailed personas has given their team a tangible starting point for future ideation.

The fact that all data was based upon real people, some of whom the team had been involved in interviewing, gave them confidence that they had a genuine understanding of the market and therefore clarity of what products and services are needed for the future of rental.

Involving the designers, project managers and marketeers in the process, opened them up to the approach of speaking to consumers as a core starting point for all future project work. A skill that will undoubtedly deliver more customer-focused product design for the brand.