It’s one thing to fight the habits of a legacy media group. It’s another to actually go about things a different way.
For Ana Bakalinova, head of product at Eliza, an online start-up under the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) in the United Kingdom, it is an ongoing process.
During the second module of INMA’s Product and Data for Media Summit this week, Bakalinova shared the story of Eliza, a 4-month-old venture targeting a specific audience: Millennial women.
The product would need proof of viability, and these days, it’s all about analytics, key performance indicators, metrics, and the like.
DMGT, which sees Eliza as a potential moneymaker, assumed Bakalinova would rely on what was already available to her, collected by the group’s overall analytics team.
Bakalinova had no intention of going that route.
“We didn’t want to be seen as a secondary product, and we didn’t want to be obliged to take all the assumptions and hypotheses . . . and metrics and benchmarks that all the rest of the brands have,” she told summit attendees.
She believed analytics and surveys did not truly reveal what Millennial women desired in their fashion choices. She wanted to know their social habits, behaviours while shopping, their everyday routines.
“We need to go to speak to these women. We need to understand who they are,” Bakalinova said. “We think we know, we have all this data, but do we really know without talking to them?”
She wanted information gathered from face-to-face interactions. But she also had a staff of just four. What to do?
She went to the masses. She got her staff to talk with their friends and families, who then went to talk with their friends and families, and so on. Eventually, the data rolled in, often from extensive interviews.
The discoveries: Women were annoyed with Instagram and Amazon because everyone was dressed alike, the choices the same. Products often were inferior, and what women saw online wasn’t the same as when they opened their packages at home.
It wasn’t even a matter of price; the trend among Millennials was not to seek out luxury goods in brick-and-mortar stores but to buy big names that carried quality goods, all with the ease of a smartphone.
Bakalinova and her team were able to start curating Eliza. There was the common refrain of “I don’t have anything to wear.” Bakalinova wanted Eliza to be able to reach those women, to help them make smart fashion choices among all of the options out there, with minimal frustration and maximum ease.
Right now, Eliza is getting 25 million content views, with 200% month-to-month growth – all from the Web site, Instagram, TikTok, and even a public relations firm that picked up on Eliza’s existence and crowned it the fastest growing social media presence in fashion.
This, to Bakalinova, is proof that her method can work. Don’t rely on data. Don’t rely on what’s handed to you. Keep up the dialogue with the targeted demographic.
“Online, this is guerrilla testing, you know,” she said. “But it’s very easy to do it, you just need to think much more creatively.”