Desirable Bath Towels

Our client, a manufacturer of bath linens, needed to test the market’s receptivity to a new bath product they could sell to consumers. We designed a direct-to-consumer quantitative study.

What We Did

Our client had an idea for a new concept product—a premium bath towel that was heavy, soft, and fluffy, and became fluffier with use. It was made from 100%, extra-long fiber cotton that felt like Egyptian, Pima, or Turkish cotton. Its heavy weight allowed for rapid moisture-wicking and absorption of water from the skin. It was the right balance of weight and thickness, and maintained its size and softness over many washings. It was to be offered in bath and hand towel sizes. Washcloths and bath mats were also to be available. Offered in a wide range of colors, the concept bath towel was engineered not to fade.

To provide the client with the elements of a market-driven, go-to-market plan, we conducted a direct-to-consumer quantitative study. Data from more than 400 consumers across the U.S were collected and analyzed. These consumers were active purchasers of bath towels and matched our client’s definition of their target customer. Seven product features and ten service features associated with the concept product were evaluated. The service features investigated were

  • A no-hassle return policy with a full refund or replacement if the bath towels didn’t perform as customers expected
  • Free sample washcloth so customers could see and touch the special fabric out of which the bath towels were made
  • A 60-day trial of the bath towels; if customers didn’t like them, then they could return them—no questions asked
  • A light weight, reusable storage container for the bath towels
  • Standard free 2-day shipping
  • A 5-year, no-fault guarantee with product purchases
  • A free subscription to the company’s monthly newsletter that kept customers informed of new products and design tips, as well as advice on home décor
  • The option to receive special samples of new products
  • A free copy of the company’s printed catalog with an augmented reality experience that enabled customers to see the true color and/or pattern of the bath towels in their own home
  • The ability to see real customers’ ratings

We designed and executed an agile concept test for the new bath towel as one of the exercises in the direct-to-consumer quantitative study. Analysis of the resulting data revealed the value consumers had for each of the concept features and the price they would pay.

What We Learned

Over 70% of respondents were interested in the concept bath towel. The idea of a bath towel becoming fluffier over time was well received.

Among other exercises in the survey, we asked consumers, “What do you want your bath towel to do for you?”

The bath towel’s weight was important to almost half of consumers, but most did not factor weight into their decision-making process. For consumers, it was most important that the bath towel was soft, moisture-wicking, fluffy, long-lasting, and that it didn’t trap odors.

The highest rated service features were

  • Free shipping
  • Free returns
  • Free samples

The three promotional descriptors that were the strongest motivators of purchase and not recognized as hype were

  • Soft
  • Highly absorbent
  • Long-lasting

Free shipping, easy returns, seeing real customer ratings, and a guarantee were what consumers wanted from retailers to make their online purchase(s) easier and faster.

We defined the missing elements of the client’s marketing mix with facts from the direct-to-consumer quantitative study. The next step was to build out a sales forecast so our client could be ready to go to market.

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