Private vs. public lives

Finding deeper insights into Puma’s ‘Performer’ audience, for comms development

PUMA Running and Training faced a hurdle. On paper, they knew their core audience, “The Performer”, but this was only the tip of iceberg.

With ambitions to win over ‘The Performer’ through comms and product innovation, PUMA R+T needed to take their knowledge beyond just paper, and pinpoint the role of sports in this complex audience’s daily lives.

But an audience characterised by their exclusive public image, we faced a tough challenge to gain access into their tight-knit network.

Traditional recruitment wouldn’t work. To find them, we’d have to be them. So, we used a recruitment partner embedded in their community.

Once in this world, we undertook a 3-stage distillation process: digital forensics, 1 week-long mobile ethnography task, and in-home ethnographies across three cities: Tokyo, Berlin and NYC.

This methodology enabled us to contrast two dominating aspects of our respondents: their external public image (digital forensics) and the more vulnerable private world lying underneath (ethnographic stages).

What we found broke expectations. Rather than serve an integral part in our Performers’ public life, exercise lived in their private world.  Always “on” in the public realm, they sought exercise as a means of escaping, blending in and switching off- and their sportswear choices reflected this mindset.

Seeing the interaction of the two worlds in our performers’ lives revealed rich new insights that broke initial hypothesises.

Exercise served as a counterbalance to their public image. It was their private, mental respite, serving as a much-needed time from always being ‘on’ in the public realm.

These findings shifted PUMA’s understanding of their role as product innovators for this audience and illuminated the existence of a new, untrodden space for them to explore in the R+T sphere.