Skip to content

When Predicting New Apparel Trends, KEEN Turned to dscout

By synthesizing surveys, interviews, and diary studies, KEEN leveraged dscout’s platform to usher in its next seasonal product release.

Interview with Aura Nelson, Edited by Kris Kopac

The company

KEEN is a footwear company that's on a mission to make the world's "cleanest" shoes. That means taking actions like harvesting waste materials for reuse, removing harmful chemicals, and creating products with longevity.

The company’s cross-functional research team is a quartet made up of Insights, Product, Design, and Merchandising. KEEN'S four departments work together throughout the season as a product is being created, from beginning to end.

As the Director of Fan Insights, Aura Nelson worked to implement a culture of continuous learning across the organization, inspired by product thought leader Teresa Torres.

Below, Aura dives into how the process, in tandem with dscout's platform, has enabled the team to conduct inspired research—and create their most fan-centric products to date.

The approach and practice

Facilitating a continuous learning process

At the beginning of my second year at KEEN, I really wanted to make sure that we had a continuous learning process in place. I read a book called Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres and I am constantly referencing it.

I showed what the process would look like for our teams. I met with key leaders from around the business, the president, the head of product, our CMO, etc. and really started talking about what this could look like. Once I got their buy in, we were ready to roll.

Synthesizing surveys, interviews, and diary studies

Very recently we launched some winter boot research we are kicking off Fall/Winter 2025.

Above is a screenshot from a participant on the dscout platform. She's one of about 60 people that participated in this research.

So to better understand the opportunities that we needed to focus on, we did this research on dscout.

We used dscout’s Diary tool and we talked to our fans about what winter looked like to them and what they're currently wearing. We talked to them about their pain points, their desires, their needs. We asked them to shop for winter boots and one of the tools that I love for this is screen recording on dscout.

Working with dscout and doing in-depth diary studies, we actually get to see examples of what style means to fans. We can better understand what they love, what they hate, so that we can start to see where that polarization is and we can develop themes around that.

Our design and product teams really benefit from actually seeing visuals—we have hundreds of images of products that our fans love and products they hate along with quotes, explaining why that is. Now we have a very, very clear understanding of what's aspirational for our fans from a style perspective. We could not do that without dscout.

Getting quick-turn responses from fans

One example of this is a few days before we had a key seasonal meeting, our utility team asked me if we could get feedback on one of their key story products.

We weren't able to do that on the front end when it was launching—I wasn't even at KEEN when the product started and the brief was built. But we were able to hear from 50 people, 50 utility customers and get feedback really quickly.

Within two days we had all the feedback that we needed on the concept and then we went into our sales meetings with great quotes and videos of people talking about that product.

So that's where I would really use Express to get quick, high-quality responses. I can stitch together videos and use closed ended questions. If we quickly reach 100 people, then we can feel pretty confident in being able to share results in terms of purchase interest and intent.

The impact

While we don't have actual sales numbers yet, there have been a couple of things that we've learned throughout the process that have an impact without being able to actually have sales numbers.

One of the areas that I see impact is that there's been a significant shift in how we talk about the fan and the importance of fan insights in the go-to-market process and in the brief writing process.

Using the dscout platform to show our fans getting in depth, and showing images of what's aspirational to them, their influencers, etc. that's all embedded into that.

Then all of our product briefs for kickoff tie back to the insights that we learned from our research on dscout. Whether we're looking at our performance or lifestyle categories—it's all tied back to that. That's where I see the impact, our teams are really injecting that they're using it.

Gather continuous insights, quickly gut-check prototypes and concepts, and scale your retail research with dscout.

Lean on one tool for all of your research needs. See how dscout can help you keep human insights at the center of decision-making, schedule a demo with a member of our team.

Kris is a content creator and editor based in Chicago.

The Latest