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Eclectic Products -- Shoe Goo Skate Research Report

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Eclectic Products’ Shoe Goo shoe protection product has a significant skateboarder following but may not be capitalizing on this niche market. Before a new marketing strategy is developed, Eclectic …

Eclectic Products’ Shoe Goo shoe protection product has a significant skateboarder following but may not be capitalizing on this niche market. Before a new marketing strategy is developed, Eclectic Products must show retailers evidence of skateboarder interest in the product and determine if the packaging appeals to skateboarders. Eclectic Products is also releasing a new product called Stitch Protector and is considering skate-centric packaging and bundling to appeal to skateboarders.

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  • 1. Shoe Goo and Skateboarders: Attitudes and Authenticity Client: Eclectic Products Status: Eclectic Products’ Shoe Goo shoe protection product has a significant skateboarder following but may not be capitalizing on this niche market. Before a new marketing strategy is developed, Eclectic Products must show retail- ers evidence of skateboarder interest in the product and determine if the packaging appeals to skateboarders. Eclectic Products is also releasing a new product called Stitch Protector and is considering skate-centric packaging and bundling to appeal to skateboarders. Authors: Paul Goodnight pgoodnig@uoregon.edu 1.724.249.7745 Lauren Short lshort@uoregon.edu 1.541.513.2139 Gloria Kim gkim3@uoregon.edu 1.541.554.9999
  • 2. Executive Summary: Eclectic Products’ Shoe Goo shoe repair product has a significant following among skateboarders in Eugene and Springfield OR. With both secondary research collection on skateboarder demographics, psychographics, media use and shopping patterns, as well as primary research through 25 interviews and a 15-member focus group with our target skater audience, we have come to the following conclusions about skaters age 11 - 22 in Eugene and Springfield, OR: 1. The vast majority of skaters are aware of Shoe Goo’s skate use 2. Skaters communicate though viral videos and local skate communities 3. Skater’s shop at both skate boutiques and bargain stores for skate goods 4. Skaters prefer skate products with professional skater endorsement 5. Skaters are most worried about traction, flexibility and comfort when shopping for shoes or a shoe repair product 6. Skaters prefer a clear, fast drying product for shoe repair 7. Skaters would prefer Shoo Goo come in smaller packaging 8. Skaters would like a cloth patch and glue bundle for repairing holes These findings should be taken into consideration when marketing Shoe Goo to the skater audience or designing new products for entry into the shoe repair market. Situation Analysis: Our client, Eclectic Products, manufactures a variety of products from adhesives to repair products for concrete and wood. Its product Shoe Goo has a significant young skater (10–25 years old) niche market, because the product can be put on skate shoes to make them last longer or seal tears and holes.
  • 3. Until August of 2009, Shoe Goo was not specifically marketed to the skater audience. When Eclectic Products is searched in Google, the results are websites selling the products as a tool for everyday repair, with little mention of its skateboarding uses. However, moving to websites like YouTube or MySpace, we see that skaters are already sharing information about Shoe Goo within their community. Eclectic Products is also developing a new product called Stitch Protector and wants to know more about skater preferences for shoe repair products, such as desired color and packaging, before introducing the product into the market. At the same time, Eclectic Prod- ucts would like to talk with skaters about holes and opportunities skaters see in the skate shoe repair market. One of our client’s weaknesses is a lack of research on several important issues: How young skaters think about its product and what substitute products young skaters currently use and why; what sort of packaging is appealing; what retailers its target audience shop at; and generally, how skaters view its product. Also, the client needs to know what media sources skaters are using to communicate with other skaters.
  • 4. Part 1 Secondary Research Collection: Skateboarder Profile Demographics: Since rising to popularity in the 1970s, young, white males have dominated the skate- boarder profile. Clemmit, Dahlgren and Beal and Wheaton all agree that the typical skater is a male, age 12 – 17 and has been skating for one to three years (Clemmitt, Dahlgren, Beal and Wheaton). In “Skate or Die, Dude” Fetto says, “85 percent of those who have used a skateboard in the past year are under 18, of those, 74 percent are boys” (10). However, other sources point to a general trend of the skating audience growing beyond these young-while male restrictions. Detrick says in the article “Skateboarding Rolls Out of the Suburbs” that street skating has an increasing appeal among the urban black population and hip-hop per- formers (9). Another growing audience is adult skaters who are revisiting a childhood hobby. Burg says that a growing number of parents, as well as single adults in their 30s, find them- selves skating because of the active, outdoor appeal of the hobby (46). Psychographics: Skaters have a strong, cohesive image of themselves with non-skaters as outsiders. In “Chairman of the Board” Burg says, “The skater community in general is extremely tight and shares a common bond with the sport. Skateboarding is a way to feel unique and creative since it doesn’t fit into traditional sports markets” (49). Membership within the skater group tends to emphasize the authenticity of the group, and the shallowness of those outside. The article “Keeping It Real” says authenticity is accumulated mainly through social achievement, but also through commitment, attitude, gender, class and race (Beal and Wheaton 159). Skaters also tend to skew away from their parents, but not necessarily in a negative way. Ac- cording to Fetto, avid skaters age 12 – 17 are significantly less likely than their peers to agree with the statement “I get along with my parents,” and 69 percent of skaters cite their ideas as “very different” from their parents, compared with only 45 percent of non-skaters (10). However, skaters cannot be written off as rebels who are not motivated in school or work. Skateboarding teens are as likely as non-skaters to be motivated in school and seek higher
  • 5. education (Fetto 10). Skaters also tend to be early adopters. Fetto says, “Skaters are 32 per- cent more likely than the average teen to say they are always the first to try new things and 58 percent more likely to consider themselves experts on new technology” (11). Media Use: Skateboarders tend to use niche media, especially video and magazine, to learn about insider lifestyles, attitudes and brands that represent the “authentic” skater. In the article “Taking It to the Street” Dahlgran says, “Professional skaters, in large part, do not gain influ- ence by entering competitions, but instead promote themselves through magazine, DVD and Internet appearances (38). Skaters also heavily rely on social media for in-group communica- tion, following skate icons through Twitter and YouTube subscriptions (Llyod 19). Niche magazines are particularly important to skaters, coming after video as the number-two preferred media platform. The most important information in these niche magazines includes: skater value systems, equipment, travel and technique articles. Beal and Wheaton say that niche magazines act as two-way communication with skaters, not only disseminating sym- bols, meanings and information among skaters, but also by reshaping content with extensive audience feedback (157). Skate-centric magazines are most often purchased by intermediate skaters (those practicing the sport from one to three years), with interest in magazines dimin- ishing in pro-skaters. (161-162). Advertising geared toward a skateboarder audience is most effective when portray- ing real skaters in large, live-action photos. According to Cohn’s “COOL CAMPAIGNS,” skateboarders show a strong affinity for advertising and products designed by peer skaters and skate professionals (30). Skaters also tended to prefer advertisements that showed action photos of skaters actually practicing the sport, rather than a just a picture of a product (Beal and Wheaton 155). Along with authenticity, an advertisement’s audience was also important to intermediate skaters. Beal and Wheaton say that skateboarders considered an ad to be weak if the audience was assumed to be newcomers or outsiders (169).
  • 6. Shopping Patterns: Skateboarders showed tendencies to spend money on skate specialty brands like DC, Quiksilver and Vans. Fetto says that skaters are significantly more likely to shop at specialty stores than other 12 – 17 year olds; fifty-nine percent of skaters shop for clothes at specialty stores compared with only five percent of non-skating teens. In addition, skaters are seven percent more likely than non-skater to consider themselves stylish and agree that they like to “stand out in a crowd” (11). An average teen-male skater spends $95 a month in these spe- cialty shops, with females at $109 (Fetto 11). In the last five years, skateboarding has also gained an increased interest in urban, hip-hop apparel (Detrick 8). An “Extreme Sport:” Skateboarding has classically been considered an extreme or outsider sport because of the image of skaters as non-conformists. Because of the injuries associated with skateboard- ing, skateboarding was discouraged by parents and grouped into the “extreme sport cat- egory.” Clemmitt says in her article “Extreme Sports: Are they too dangerous?” that over the years, skateboarding garnered a negative view because of the athlete’s use of public spaces and pubic architecture as skate parks (23). A negative and outsider label was put on skate- boarding by some parents and many public authorities; however Clemmitt says that recently, skating has come into a more positive view by communities with the establishment of public skate parks, and the installation of the sport in high school gym classes (16).
  • 7. Part 2 Primary Research Methods: Advantages and Disadvantages Overview: In order to ascertain skater’s attitudes and interest toward Eclectic Products’ Shoe Goo, we plan to use personal in-depth interviews and focus groups. Through face-to-face communication, we plan to find out our target audience’s feelings about the product, as well as future packing and branding ideals. We will first interview our target audience of age 10 – 25 Eugene skaters, and then from those interviews, we will select talkative skaters to partici- pate in focus groups. To speak with our target audience, we will utilize skateboarding gather- ing spots like local skate parks and skate shops. In-Depth Interviews: On November 14, 2009, we conducted 25 in-depth interviews with skateboarders ranging in age from 11 to 22 years old. Interviews were conducted at four different skater “hot spots” in Eugene, including: US SportsPlex, Emerald Skate Park, University of Oregon Campus and the Willamalane Park skate bowl. Skaters were asked a variety of questions, covering media use, shoes, skating habits and familiarity with the Shoe Goo product. Ques- tions were both quantitative and qualitative and intended to look into the awareness of the Shoe Goo product among the target audience, as well as established attitudes toward the brand. In-depth interviews provided multiple advantages for Eclectic Products. 1. Skateboards are comfortable and familiar with the skate park environment in which we conducted the interviews. 2. With one-on-one communication, we were able to probe interviewee’s for detailed feedback about their lifestyle. 3. Interaction with skaters kept the energy level high, ensuring the last ques tions asked were answered as thoroughly as the first. 4. Falling roughly within the target audience age range, interviewers became skater peers rather than authority. 5. Locations were selected to account for income disparities within the Eu gene, Springfield area.
  • 8. We must also consider the disadvantages of in-depth interviews: 1. Outside interviews at Skate Parks are difficult in the Oregon Fall/Winter climate. 2. Skate park interviews neglect the large street skating population in Eu- gene. 3. During some interviews, the interviewee’s peers were near by and may have influenced interview answers. 4. Some skateboarders interviewed were reluctant to talk to us and felt pre- ssure to answer simply because we asked. 5. Some skaters gave short, choppy answers despite attempts to draw out more depth. 6. Unlike a survey, skaters had little time to think about responses, making it more difficult to collect detailed, thought-out responses. 7. We were only talked to male skaters, because no female skateboarders were at any of the parks we went to. Focus Groups: The next step was conducting a 15-member focus group on December 7, 2009. We chose Cactus Skateboards in Springfield, OR as a natural environment for young skaters. Through the focus group, we gathered a greater range of ideas on Eclectic Products’ Stitch Protector product, as well as skater’s preferences in shoe repair products. Focus groups hold advantages with our skater audience. 1. Through discussion we can generate more feelings and feedback than from any single, direct question. 2. Group discussion can generate opinions about Shoe Goo and Stitch Pro- tector packaging options. 3. We can observe peer-to-peer skate communication. The disadvantages that follow also exist in focus groups. 1. Focus group members can depend on one another, hurting the originality of responses and opinions. 2. The age disparity of skaters in the group may result in older skaters domi- nating as opinion leaders. 3. The young audience is hard to sit down in inactivity for any extended pe- riod of time.
  • 9. Part 3 Interviews and Focus Groups: Recap and Recommendations Interview Findings: From the 25 in-depth interviews with skateboarders age 11-22 in the Eugene-Spring- field area, we received feedback about shopping habits, media use and attitude toward Eclec- tic Products’ Shoe Goo. Starting with shopping habits, skaters in Eugene showed preference toward buying shoes at specialty skate shops. Of the 25 skateboarders inter- viewed, 13 said they shop for shoes only at Cactus Skateboards, Tactics Boardshop, Zumiez or another specialty shop. However, six of the skateboarders said that they shop for skate shoes at both skate bou- tiques and bargain stores like Ross or Shoes Right Here. Five skaters said they shop for shoes only at bargain stores, and one skater usually bought shoes online. Skateboarders were next questioned about how often they buy new skate shoes and the cost of shoes purchased. Nineteen skateboarders agreed they buy new shoes at least once every two months. Five addi- tional interviewees said they did not know how often they purchased new shoes; they simply bought new shoes when the old ones “fell apart.” Of the 24 skate- boarders who answered cost-per pair of shoes the question: seven spent $25-40, eleven spent $50-60, five spent $60-80, and one spent $200 plus per pair. When purchasing a new pair of shoes, skaters said comfort, durability, style and “good for skating” were most im- portant in decision-making.
  • 10. Second, skateboarders were asked about media consumed and created. Twenty-one of twenty-five skaters said they frequently (at least once a month) watched other skateboarder’s online video posts. Three skaters said they “sometimes” watched videos online, and only one skater said he did not watch online videos relating to skateboarding. Seventeen interviewees had created their own skate videos in the past, with fourteen having posted those videos on- line. The most frequently used sites to post videos online were YouTube and MySpace. The skateboarders interviewed also acknowledged magazines as an important skate media outlet. Twenty of twenty-five skaters agreed that they often read skateboarding maga- zines, with Thrasher, Skateboarder Magazine and Transworld Skateboard Magazine ranking as the three most popular. Last, skateboarders were asked a series of questions relating to their awareness and attitude toward Shoe Goo. Awareness of Shoe Goo was high, with 21 of 25 skate- boarders saying that they had heard of and could recog- nize the product. One skater mentioned, “Every skater knows about Shoo Goo.” Of the 21 skaters familiar with the product, 11 had heard of the product from friends, five from skate shops, three from personal use and only one had read about the product in a magazine. Sixteen of the twenty-one skaters familiar with the product had used it in the past, with ten agree- ing that the product worked extremely well and two agreeing that the product was “ok.” Four skaters could not remember how they felt about the product, and three were dissatisfied with Shoe Goo. One dis- satisfied skater said, “It’s too messy. It got all over my hands.” Some skaters had an overall positive view of the product, but said that the cap often got glued onto the product or that the tube split open before they could finish using all the Shoe Goo.
  • 11. The sixteen skaters who had used the product in the past were further questioned about where they had purchased their Shoe Goo. Six skaters had purchased the product at Cactus Skateboards in Springfield, five at Walmart, four at another skate shop and one at the hardware store. One skater said, “I’ve wanted to buy it more, but I can never find it.” Recommendations from the Interviews: The average 11 – 22 year old Eugene skateboarder shops at both specialty skate bou- tiques and discount stores for skate shoes and supplies. Shoe Goo should be available in both these store types to cover a skating market that is concerned with quality and brand, but cannot always afford the cost at specialty skate shops. Skateboarders buy new shoes often, so marketing Shoe Goo as a shoe protector and cost-saver should appeal to skateboarders on a budget. Parents of younger skaters present during the interviews were very concerned with shoe costs. Parents should be another target market not only because they generate more in- come, but also because they make many of the skating purchases for the younger skateboard- ing audience. In order to target the skateboarding audience, Eclectic Products should look for ways to make skaters talk within the community about the product. Most skaters were aware of Shoe Goo’s skate use because of friends or employees at local skate shops, so viral videos and local skate shop promotions would be good channels to communicate with skaters about the product. Although skateboarders read skate magazines frequently, this medium did not seem to be a source of information about Shoe Goo, which may be a result of little past magazine advertising or little interest in print Shoe Goo ads. Finally, the Shoe Goo website was not popular among the skateboarders interviewed. Only two of twenty-five had visited the web- site. The skater niche does not seem to have adopted online shopping habits and would pre- fer to go to skate shops or bargain stores for skating goods. Skateboarders are aware of Shoe Goo and its skateboarding uses. Educating skate shop employees about Shoe Goo, and promoting its money-saving techniques through viral videos, can influence this niche to adopt Shoe Goo as staple skate product and get skaters to start communicating about the product within their community.
  • 12. Focus Group Findings: Fifteen skateboarders attended our focus group at Cactus Skateboards in Springfield on December 7, 2009. Holding the focus group at a familiar skateboarding shop allowed us to create a natural and comfortable environment for the skateboarders. The setting was very casual, as we provided food and drinks for all participants, and most of the skateboarders knew each other, which encouraged an honest, insider look at skateboarder attitudes toward Shoe Goo. Awareness: All of the skaters were familiar with Eclectic’s Shoe Goo, and most of them had used the product at least once in the past. One skater said that anyone who skateboarded knew about Shoe Goo, even though it’s not designed specifically for skate use. All of the skate- boarders who had used Shoe Goo agreed that it worked well, preserved and elongated the life of their shoes and saved them money. Some skateboarders said they has used super glue protect their shoes, but most had not tried this as substitute for Shoe Goo. The majority of skateboarders in the group had purchased Shoe Goo at bargain or hardware stores like Jer- ry’s, Bi-Mart and K-Mart; very few purchased the product at skateboarding shops. Multiple skateboarders also commented on the versatility of Shoe Goo with one skateboarder even using Shoe Goo to create a new pair of shoes from different parts of old shoes. Criticism: Many of the skaters said that even though they liked Shoe Goo, it was always slippery at first, which made it hard for their shoes to grip the skateboard. One skateboarder said: “I like it better once you’ve worn the Shoe Goo in a little. At first it is slippery on the grip tape. After some flip kicks, some tricks, the plasticy coating starts to wears off and it’s more like sticky and better to do flip tricks. But that’s the only thing. You kinda have to warm up to it.” Another common complaint about the product was that the packaging was not air tight, causing the Shoe Goo in the tube to dry out after only a couple uses. Several skateboarders suggested selling Shoe Goo in smaller tubes, enough for just one or two uses. One skate- boarder said he followed the directions on the back of the product to make sure it did not dry
  • 13. as quickly: “It says on the back of tube better places to keep it so the glue on the tip doesn’t dry and you’re supposed to completely rinse off the outside tube and the inside of the cap and stuff.” However, expecting skaters to read directions and wash out the cap is not realistic. One skateboarder commented: “Dude I’m a skateboarder! I’m not going to do that.” One final criticism from the skaters was the difficulty in application. Several skate- boarders said they always got Shoe Goo all over their hands and that it was hard to wash off. Additionally, the skaters agreed it was difficult to smoothly apply a coat of the product over their shoe. Most didn’t mind “gunking” it on their shoes, but several said they did not want it to be so obvious that their shoes were patched. Clear Shoe Goo was preferred over black Shoe Goo because it is not as obvious to others and does not ruin the shoe. However, most skateboarders who purchased Shoe Goo at stores like Jerry’s or Bi-Mart said the clear Shoe Goo was frequently sold out. Everyone liked the idea of Shoe Goo packaged with a tool for application. One skateboarder said the tool needs to resemble the smoothness of a finger as much as possible. Packaging: Although Shoe Goo is becoming a part of skateboarding culture, the packaging is not currently skate specific. The skateboarders at the focus group said changing the packaging to be more skate specific would not make them more likely to buy the product because they are already familiar with it, but that it would help the product gain popularity with other skate- boarders. Skaters suggested sponsoring pro skateboarders or putting the names and faces of different pros on the product’s packaging to increase awareness of the product’s skate use. The skaters came to a general consensus, agreeing that skateboarders are more likely to buy products endorsed by pros. Skaters said that skate decks with signatures or pictures of cer- tain pros sell better than those without. According to one skateboarder, if his favorite skate- boarder endorses a certain product or item then, “You’re going to buy it no matter what.”
  • 14. Stitch Protector: The skateboarders were next asked if a product like Stitch Protector would be of inter- est to them. We first explained that the product is designed for application along shoe seems before wear in order to prevent shoe stitches from fraying and make shoes last longer. Skat- ers agreed that this product would be useful and popular with skateboarders. Group partici- pants said that they currently use substances like super glue and Shoe Goo in order to try and preserve shoe seems. One skater said, “I’m anal retentive so as the threads wear away, I would try and get Shoe Goo down in there and put the material back over top so someone won’t look and be like ‘Oh he glued his shoes.’” Immediately after we instructed skaters to apply the product to their shoes, multiple skaters commented on the need for Shoe Goo and Stitch Protector to be fast drying. “I think one thing that would make Shoe Goo better is to make it dry quicker. Ten minutes.” The skateboarders said an overnight drying period for Shoe Goo is too long, and for people with on-the-move lifestyles, it is not practical to have to wait so long. Since the products are not quick drying, some of the skateboarders went to extreme lengths to dry their shoes. “I put a whole glob... on my shoe and blow dried it for an hour. It bubbled up and it was gross.” The skateboarders then disagreed with their earlier opinion that skate boarders do not read in- structions, saying that precise details about the application, drying process, ingredients, and preservation should be included with Stitch Protector. It was also suggested that the product be made without flammable substances. One skater said, “Make sure it’s not flammable. I learned that. I put a lighter against it to see if it would dry quicker and it caught on fire.” In regards to the product’s appearance, some of the skateboarders worried that the product would not dry clear. It was suggested that the Stitch Protector dry clear, so it would not affect the appearance of their shoes. Bundle Packaging: The skateboarders were excited about combined packing of Shoe Goo and Stitch Pro- tector, and said since they would use both of the products, it would be practical to sell them together. However, participants also had recommendations about bundle pricing with one saying, “If I was going to buy a combination, then it would have to be cheaper than buying
  • 15. the two separate ones.” The skateboarders also recommended that Shoe Goo and Stitch Pro- tector come in small packages so it would not only be cheaper, but also resolve the problem of the large tubes drying out. New Product Ideas: A patch repair kit for shoes was appealing to the skaters in our focus group. Multiple skaters in the group shoed us holes in their skate shoes. Skateboarders had suggestions for a successful patch repair kit. “I was just thinking I would totally patch these up if I had a whole pair shoes I could cut up, but I don’t. If you sold a product that came with a piece of suede or fabric....” Skaters agreed that if a repair kit came with some cloth material and a glue substance, they would buy it to fix the holes in their shoes. When the idea of a rubber shoe dip was suggested, the room erupted with dissatisfac- tion. The skateboarders claimed that dipping a shoe in such a substance would alter their skating abilities, and would make it impossible for them to break their shoes in. Skaters said that it’s difficult to break in their shoes, and it’s important to maintain shoe flexibility as long as possible. They also claimed that the rubber dip would take away from the traction on their shoes, which would make it nearly impossible for them to attempt any tricks while skate- boarding. They also stated that they used shoe insoles as an effort to make their shoes more com- fortable, durable and create a more natural feeling while skateboarding. It would be a good idea to create shoe insoles designed for skateboarders. Recommendations from Focus Group: From our time talking to skateboarders, we drew out several important skater recom- mendations for Shoe Goo. First, the product should come in smaller quantities, so that the tube will not dry out. Skaters would also like a tool to apply the Shoe Goo and a more quick drying formula. Skaters were not particularly concerned with Shoe Goo packaging, although they thought that other skaters were. Last, they thought that professional skater endorse- ment of skate products made those products better than products with no professional en- dorsement.
  • 16. For Stitch Protector, skaters were interested in protecting shoe seams. They want a product that dries fast and clear. They do not want it to be noticeable that they have patched their shoes, which is especially important because Stitch Protector will be applied to new shoes. Combination packaging of Shoe Goo and Stitch Protector appealed to skaters, espe- cially if the price was lowered. As for products the skaters wished they had, most skaters were interested in a cloth patch and glue bundle, as well as insoles designed for skaters. The skaters were not interest- ed in a goo dip product because of the loss of traction and flexibility of skate shoes. References: 1. Beal, Becky, and Belinda Wheaton. “Keeping It Real: Subcultural Media and the Discourses of Authenticity in Alternative Sport.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 38.155 (2003) 154 -176. 2. Berg, Jason. “Chairman of the Board.” Parks and Recre- ation 42.8 (2007) 44 – 49. 3. Clemmitt, Marcia. “Extreme Sports: Are they too danger- ous?” CQ Researcher 19.13 (2009). 4. Cohn, Gary. “Tony Hawk Carves a New Niche.” Entre- preneur 37.10 (2009) 26 – 32. 5. Dahlgren, Kent. “Taking It to the Street.” Parks and Rec- reation 41.8 (2006) 38 – 43. 6. Detrick, Ben. “Skateboarding Rolls Out of the Suburbs.” The New York Times 11 Nov. 2007: A9. 7. Fetto, John. “Skate or Die, Dude.” American Demo- graphics 24.9 (2002): 10 – 11. 8. Llyod, Jeromy. “COOL CAMPAIGNS (THAT WORKED).” Marketing Magazine 114.12 (2009) 18 – 19. 9. Matthew, Kelli. Personal INTERVIEW. 4 November 2009.