Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

WWW? No, we’re not talking about the Internet. We’re referring to one company’s shoe products in the digital world! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

May 31, 2021

The COVID-19 crisis brought a lot of changes to the way the whole world operates.

One of those changes?

A surge in e-commerce and digital transformation.

As stated in a report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):

“Businesses and consumers increasingly ‘went digital,’ providing and purchasing more goods and services online, raising e-commerce’s share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020.”

… but do you know that even before the pandemic, one company has already been conducting digital efforts to improve its customer engagement strategy?

The company we’re referring to is…

Wolverine World Wide, Inc.!

Wolverine Worldwide is an American footwear manufacturer based in Rockford, Michigan. The company is known for its eponymous brand, the Wolverine Boots and Shoes, and other brands such as:

  • Hush Puppies
  • Merrell
  • Caterpillar (CAT)
  • Harley-Davidson Footwear
  • Saucony
  • Keds
  • Stride Rite
  • Sperry Top-Sider

Despite several changes in the business landscape, how does Wolverine Worldwide expand its reach and customer base?

As mentioned a while ago, the company has been conducting digital marketing efforts to establish its presence in the online sector―even before the pandemic started.

One of those happened in 2018:

The partnership with multi-channel customer engagement firm, Precision Dialogue (PD)!

Under the multi-year agreement between the two companies, PD would serve as Wolverine Worldwide’s consumer engagement strategy firm.

This meant PD was in charge of building a framework of 3 core elements―information, insights, and interactions―that perfectly aligned with Wolverine Worldwide’s immediate business goals and long-term vision.

Below are some of the solutions provided by PD for Wolverine Worldwide:

  • Marketing Data Warehouse – To hold multi-branded, global consumer, transactional, and behavioral data securely.
  • Customer Identity Resolution and Integration – To enable the shoe company to create effective ad campaigns across multiple digital and direct marketing channels.
  • Analytical Support – To include brand and enterprise segmentation, predictive analytics, modeling, value optimization, attribution, and strategic targeting for online and offline media.
  • Strategic Consulting – To deliver on the shoe company’s goal of relevant marketing communications across all consumer touchpoints.

Through these solutions, Wolverine Worldwide was able to leverage customer insights, interactions, and information, drive relevant marketing communications, and improve its marketing ROI!

According to Danielle Leveille, Wolverine Worldwide’s Director of Consumer Relationship Management:

“At Wolverine Worldwide, we were looking for a reliable, scalable, and measurable solution―serving our family of brands. During the selection process, it became clear Precision Dialogue’s consumer-centric solutions provided an answer to the major objectives we presented: Unifying customer data on an enterprise level and enabling alignment around a strong consumer engagement strategy.”

– – –

Fast forward to 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the whole world…

What did Wolverine Worldwide do to address and adjust to changes in the way businesses operate during this time?

The company further strengthened its presence in the online retail space through a digital-first approach!

As stated by Brendan Hoffman, Wolverine Worldwide’s President:

“Wolverine Worldwide witnessed a dramatic change in consumer behavior this year, highlighted by a significant shift to e-commerce and heightened digital engagement. We capitalized on this by accelerating our pivot to a digital-first strategy and expanding our digital investments and capabilities, all aimed at engaging consumers online with pinnacle brand experiences, fresh and innovative products, and compelling storytelling.”

One of the things the company did under this approach?

It created its own digital product testing and consumer engagement strategy!

Wolverine Worldwide structured its tech solutions upon 3 pillars, each utilizing the necessary experts and tools to optimize data and provide a holistic view of the shoe company’s brands:

  • Hindsight – Focusing on market data, competitive intelligence, and other dynamics affecting relevant categories.
  • Insight – Diving into consumer behavior data through digital product and concept testing and ethnography―conducting online polls and surveys and accepting customization requests for footwear products.
  • Foresight – Leveraging consumer macro trends and innovation solutions to anticipate and solve consumer demands.

With the help of these pillars, Wolverine Worldwide is able to make informed decisions and act quickly to activate innovation and growth among its brands.

The company also developed its own Consumer Tracker via a mobile ethnography platform to stay up-to-date with consumers’ footwear preferences.

The tracker, which operates on a bi-weekly basis, asks consumers a few questions through social media polls or surveys about Wolverine Worldwide’s category of brands.

According to Lindsey Goodman, Wolverine Worldwide’s Consumer Insights Director, this is one of the company’s “most productive work with retailers and customers during the pandemic.”

Digital product assortment testing, or asking social media users to vote on a particular shoe product or category, has also served as part of the company’s important marketing efforts.

Here, Wolverine Worldwide measures its competitive advantage for shoe products that are currently on shelf, testing consumers who are likely to buy the products in the category.

Combined with the company’s willingness to customize shoes based on customers’ requests, these tests have led to the creation of some newly designed footwear products such as:

Saucony’s NYC Endorphin Speed…

… and Sperry’s Windsurfer Blue Saltwater Boots!

With this kind of strategy, Director Lindsey Goodman says “everybody wins”―the level of trust and partnership between the company and consumers is invaluable!

In the past five years, Wolverine World Wide, Inc. has recorded revenues of:

  • USD 2.5 billion in 2016
  • USD 2.4 billion in 2017
  • USD 2.2 billion in 2018
  • USD 2.3 billion in 2019
  • USD 1.8 billion in 2020

The company ensures it will continue to use customer insights to shape new brand experiences, data-driven marketing campaigns, and new product offerings.

Wolverine World Wide, Inc.’s Earning Power: Valens Research vs. As-reported numbers

Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (WWW:USA) makes for a great case study that we come back to regularly. One great reason?

The company has proven itself to be a better earning power generator than investors might think.

So, how well has WWW been growing its business in the past years?

The research doesn’t lie—nor do the results. Earning power (the blue bars) continues to show results higher on average than what traditional databases show.

The blue bars in the chart above represent WWW’s earning power (Uniform Return On Assets). WWW has generally seen robust and improving profitability. Its Uniform ROA ranged from 13% to 23% in the past sixteen years, or an average of 18%. Uniform ROA is at 19% in 2020.

The global ROA is just 6%.

The orange bars are the company’s as-reported financial information. If you relied on these numbers, you will see a company with understated profitability. As-reported ROA (return on assets, a measure of earning power) ranged from 11%-14% levels in 2005-2011, before declining to 6% levels in 2012. Although it recovered to 7% in 2018, as-reported ROA compressed to a low of 2% levels in 2020.

That’s what you’ll see in Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and most other databases.

The company’s stock price also performed better than the rest of the stock market over the decade, which we can see in the blue line in the chart below. Its returns have been well above the market.

The numbers show that WWW has been doing well and making a profit.

For some businesses, personalization is a “highly customized, expensive, and laborious product.”

However, for dedicated brands and companies like Wolverine Worldwide, that’s not always the case with personalization.

While such notions still resonate among some consumers, the company proves there are other ways to know more about consumers and their shopping behaviors to deliver more intentional messaging, features, benefits, and experiences.

… and as a global leader in the footwear industry, Wolverine Worldwide assures it will maintain its steadfast passion for innovative products that “empower, engage, and inspire consumers.”

The result of that passion?

A big and successful family of some of the most admired performance and lifestyle brands on Earth!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some company’s marketing strategy.

…Only for the audience to later find out that their product was a flop, or worse, that the company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the role of marketing is always paramount to that success.

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies.

However, the difference between our case studies and the numerous ones out there, is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group).

By looking at the true earnings of a company, we can now rely on those successful businesses to get tips and insights on what they did right.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve on. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
Powered by Valens Research

View All

You don’t have access to the Valens Research Premium Application.

To get access to our best content including the highly regarded Conviction Long List and Market Phase Cycle macro newsletter, please contact our Client Relations Team at 630-841-0683 or email client.relations@valens-research.com.

Please fill out the fields below so that our client relations team can contact you

Or contact our Client Relationship Team at 630-841-0683