Design Thinking applied to marketing: the art of taking your shoes off to walk the customer’s journey

Last September, Damart, fashion creator and manufacturer, challenged the MSc in Marketing Management students to transform the Thermolactyl experience into a more sustainable one, focusing on the underwear range. The patented fabric is renowned for its ability to provide warmth. The team who won the challenge tells us all about their path to build a sustainable strategy.


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Written on 02 Apr 2020.


Founded in 1953, Damart is famous for developing and patenting Thermolactyl, a unique fibre, proven effective against cold. But conscious of the impact of fashion on the planet –fashion is the 2nd most pollutant industry after oil-, the brand asked EDHEC MSc in Marketing Management students to turn the Thermolactyl experience into a sustainable one, building a customer experience that is better for the planet, the people and the profit. They had four months to come up with a plan.

Applying design thinking

“To meet the challenge, we had to apply the five steps of Design Thinking which are: empathize, define, ideate, test, and prototype, says Lauren Freshwater. We visited several departments of the company, visited the stores, interviewed customers. We gained a 360° vision of the company, helping us get in the mind of what the company and the consumers wanted. We also tested our ideas on the Grande Place de Lille.” The team finally came up with the concept “Damart warms you & warms your heart”, matching the warmth of the Thermolactyl underwear range with the warmth of human emotions. They managed to do that through storytelling. “We thought of connecting the customers to the brand by immersing them in the story of the product from its design to the stores by narrating all the steps in the supply chain through its staff, says Akash Poddar. The customer could scan a QR code and be connected to a unique webpage.”

Going sustainable

Five teams reached the finales. Akash Poddar, Lauren Freshwater, Jie Yang, Julia Belaich and Emma Cattier won the public choice award. They built up a strategy to make the customer journey eco-friendly from the in-store experience to the product post-use.

In stores, the team spotted the use of plastic for labelling. To replace these labels and also shipping plastic packages for online shoppers, they suggested a plant-the-package plan, using recycled cardboard with embedded seeds and a biodegradable and plant-based compostable package for shipment. Furthermore, they advised a partnership with the NGO Team Trees. For every 0.50 to 1 € donated by the customer, Damart would match the contribution and keep the donators posted on their money’s use.

What about the clothing itself when you are done wearing it? Go zero-waste replied the students. The customers can bring back their old Thermolactyl so it can be redirected to needy people or upcycled during in-store DIY workshops to create scarves, gloves or quilts for homeless persons. Adding a new dimension of care to the brand’s image.


Finally, they imagined a street-marketing action to guide people in the stores to experience the brand positive impact.

I’m glad we can gain real-life experience of the business world during our study process, says Jie Yang. I think it's also extremely important for us to raise the awareness of sustainability since we will be the future managers in the business world. We should always try our best to find a balance between making profit and protecting our planet. We should not only think about the profit, but also need to think about our society and planet!”

The company got really involved in the challenge. Eight people came for the brief and stayed with the students for a full-day. For the finales, the CEO, but also the shareholders, the founding chairman and 50 employees were present to listen to the teams’ presentations. This involvement matched the one of the students who visited the company, interacted with customers, went to the stores... The students fully took on the challenge”, says Pierre d’Huy, Design Thinker and Senior Lecturer at EDHEC Business School. “At EDHEC, we can always teach the methodology, but for innovation to emerge we need to make new thought connected, says René Rorhbeck, Director of the EDHEC Foresight, Innovation & Transformation Chair and Professor of Strategy. It was wonderful to see the engagement of Damart and of our students that created a number of innovative concepts that are now being implemented.” 

The Damart challenge is encompassed in the overall company’s strategy Change our world.




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