2023 Challenger  Brand Paper: Evolving the Consumer Value Equation

2023 Challenger Brand Paper: Evolving the Consumer Value Equation

2023 Challenger Brand Paper: Evolving the Consumer Value Equation

This year’s study celebrates the challenger brands that have successfully navigated the recent disruptive economic, political, and environmental changes by redefining the consumer value equation. With rising inflation rates, fierce national political battles, and (continued) climate turmoil, our Top 10 challenger brands are delivering on the priority needs that a growing segment of consumers no longer choose to live without in categories – climate commitment, conscientiousness and cost. We call these the ‘3 Cs’ of the evolved consumer value equation, enabling our challengers to differentiate themselves, increase their relevancy and quickly build trust.

More than ever, the consumer value equation needs to be at the forefront of brand and strategy planning, particularly for those less entrenched movers looking to make inroads. This year’s Top 10 challenger brands highlight new ways to deliver against the ‘3 Cs’.

Climate Commitment:
Consumers are increasingly emphatic about incorporating sustainability & environmental consciousness into their lives. Eco-consciousness is cementing itself as a key part of the value equation, and challengers are making huge strides to appeal to a more scalable, mainstream audience. Challengers who deliver against priority category dimensions, while also providing a more climate friendly solution and anchoring sustainability as key to their reason for being, can win in this environment.

1. Viv

Look to Viv for earth-friendly and toxin-free period care. Their packaging is 100% recyclable, pads & liners are fully biodegradable in 150 days, and their organic cotton tampons are made with plant-based applicators, cutting out harmful chemicals and uncomfortable plastic. Not only is Viv dedicated to helping menstruators everywhere have a zero-waste period, but they are also committed to smashing period stigma, as promoted through the Voices by Viv podcast. While subscribe & save makes it easy to have period care delivered when you need it, you can now also find this brand in-store at CVS!


New entrant to the sauce market, AWSM, is helping consumers to Avoid Waste + Season Meaningfully. The powder form of their sauces allows for extended shelf life, eradicating the #1 reason for condiment waste (they’re not used in time!) By cutting out water weight, the company also reduces their environmental shipping impact (i.e., less fuel), furthering the brand’s mission to help the world #sauceresponsibly.

3. Akua

Akua is making ‘kelp-based’ the new ‘plant-based’ with their range of kelp-based meat alternatives. As animal agriculture is the 2nd largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world, Akua is focused on creating a tasty way to replace factory farming with regenerative ocean farming. Their farming practices significantly reduce CO2 emissions and help us be kinder to the planet – one kelp burger at a time! Impressively, they’ve raised $5.4M to date and show no sign of stopping.

4. Atomo

Founded in 2019, newcomer to the caffeine scene Atomo is paving the way for a more sustainable coffee kick – without the beans! The star ingredient is upcycled date seeds and their brewing method uses 94% less water and expends 93% less carbon emissions than conventional cold brew. As climate change continues to threaten traditional coffee production, Atomo points to the future of coffee, supporting the ever-increasing demand for your daily brew. Recently named to TIME’s list of the best inventions of 2022, this brand is certainly one to watch.

Younger consumers increasingly prioritize supporting mission-driven brands – with around 3 in 4 of Gen Z and Millennials actively seeking out brands that support the causes they believe in. Given next gen’s increasing share of wallet, it’s more important than ever for challengers to authentically tie themselves to a clear sense of purpose, rooted in social good. Mission-driven challenger brands who can creatively, authentically, and substantially deliver on their promises and create unique pathways for consumers to give back see outsized returns.

5. Conscious Step

With each pair of socks devoted to a different cause, Conscious Step partners with a variety of non-profits (e.g., environmental, animal rights, human needs, etc), delighting consumers with the ability to choose which cause they want to support with their purchase. Consious Step provides transparency into the tangible impact they’ve had; this includes a continually updated monetary tracker that stands at over $800k today, a list of their partner organizations and communities they serve, and a breakdown of the cash flow.

6. Ajiri

Women-owned and operated tea & coffee brand Ajiri takes a multidimensional approach to living out its name which means “to employ” in Swahili. Tea and coffee are sourced / grown in Kenya, and local women create the unique banana bark labels. All profits go to the Ajiri Foundation funding childhood education for orphans in Western Kenya, allowing Ajiri to use education to empower and uplift the communities it serves. This brand earned its spot on shelf at Whole Foods, allowing consumers to support this important mission while drinking flavorful warm beverages.

7. Chum Fruit Bites

Chum Fruit Bites offers a snack you can feel good about giving kids for two reasons: their nutrition panel and commitment to the protection of different endangered species. These natural fruit snacks instill the importance of environmental protection in children through their visually engaging animal graphics and their donation of 15% of profits to WILDAID.org – an NGO that works to end the multi-billion-dollar illegal global wildlife trade industry. Founded in Ireland in 2017, the brand has recently expanded to the US through Amazon and their DTC site.

It goes without saying that in this inflationary environment consumers are increasingly cost conscious. Budget is top of mind, and it’s critical for brands to get creative with how to deliver (& communicate) value most effectively. Challengers most able to help consumers manage their budget while maintaining creative, elevated offerings are rewarded.

8. The Inkey List

The Inkey List is on a mission to empower consumers with the knowledge they need to navigate their skincare journey. They know skincare can be confusing, so they prioritize accessible price points that allow consumers to test and learn, ultimately building their perfect skincare routine! Inkey reduces costs through less expensive, sustainable packaging and by sourcing ingredients themselves, limiting manufacturing costs, to deliver high quality products all under $15. Since their launch in 2018 they’ve gleaned high praise from leaders in beauty (e.g., Allure) and earned prominent positioning everywhere from TikTok to the shelves of Sephora, reshaping skincare one award-winning serum at a time!

9. Dialogue

Dialogue is an Israeli-based, revolutionary ecommerce platform that uses AI-powered messaging to create individualized shopping experiences – all while helping brands manage site maintenance costs. Personalization is on-trend across the consumer goods landscape, and Dialogue helps ecommerce interactions match the level of personalization of an in-store shopping experience for companies of all sizes – from Sabon to L’Occitane. Dialogue has helped businesses lift conversion rates, session time, and ARPU more easily, all while reducing the brands’ bottom lines and enhancing the shopping experience for consumers.

10. EveryPlate

“America’s best value meal kit,” EveryPlate, helps consumers save time and money on their weekly grocery haul. With EveryPlate, you get a delicious meal for only $4.99 per serving – around 44% less than key competitors– and about 30 minutes of your time. This challenger sits within Hello Fresh, exemplifying how bigger companies can target a wider consumer base by offering accessible versions of their popular services. Reduced packaging and a more streamlined menu keep prices down, allowing consumers of all income levels to be an EveryPlate’r and home chef.

Climate commitment, conscientiousness, and cost are becoming integral to the consumer value equation. Consumers are more keyed into costs and want to put their dollars to work with brands that deliver against causes they care about, including protecting the planet. Think critically about how to reflect the importance of the 3Cs within your consumer value equation, whether through innovation, brand strategy and/or portfolio strategy.
As always, we want to hear from you! If you’d like more information on any of our challenger brand studies, or want to share a brand of your own, please reach out at info@seuratgroup.com.
What’s the Why?

What’s the Why?

What’s the Why?

Today, brands have more data at their fingertips than ever
before. The challenge? Many become overwhelmed or follow it blindly, missing the all-important whys needed to shape smart strategies. Consider these examples:
  • A pet food brand invested in performance marketing but struggled to articulate underlying attitudes and unifying motivations of its target cohorts, severely limiting the effectiveness and efficiency of its marketing investment.
  • A confectionary brand invested in keyword tracking of a given category with three key retailer partners to support collaborative innovation. They were able to identify key claims and tag lines that performed well in the past 52 weeks but could not isolate brand vs. retailer choice factors.
  • A produce brand built a custom dashboard to integrate three different data sources and found they had a clear view to what happened in the past, but no understanding of how to influence consumers looking forward.

Scenarios like these are becoming all too common as marketers are overwhelmed with data sources and the opportunity to test/learn, drive performance marketing, and optimize brand strategy. As Advanced Analytics and Insight teams build capability with data analytics, it is important to understand this is only one part of a more comprehensive consumer growth engine. It is the ‘What,’ as in ‘What is the data telling us?’ Sustainable growth comes from utilizing all five pillars of the Consumer Growth Engine.

  • What: What is the data telling us?
  • Why: Why is this happening? Where is the consumer headed? (core insight)
  • How: How does insight come to life as activation?
  • Risk/Opportunity: What does this mean for competition? R&D? Retail relationships?
  • Fit: Can this brand do this meaningfully? Is there mission fit? Consumer permission?

Growth Strategy across the demand plan is limited without factoring in all five pillars. A key first step is moving beyond the what and asking, What’s the Why? That will drive greater human understanding and engagement.

A leading dairy brand provides an example of how the
Consumer Growth Engine creates opportunity.

A leading premium dairy brand plays in the family-size and pint-size ice cream space. Trends indicate that plant-based ice cream is where the growth resides. Brands are diving into plant-based expansion, and consumers appear passionate about it, driving an 11% CAGR for plant-based ice cream. Had the brand relied solely on data, it would have jumped headlong into plant-based ice cream. Instead, the team dug deeper into the whys, recognizing that in ice cream, plant-based ingredients matter far less than winning on taste and indulgence. The result? While competitors jumped on the plant-based bandwagon, the brand launched a rich, ultra-creamy custard innovation that outperformed the plant-based segment.

  • What: Ultra-creamy, rich, high-end French (egg-based) custard ice cream.
  • Why: Consumers turn to ice cream for indulgence and ‘worth it’ taste, not a watered down, better-for-you version.
  • How: Build on the legacy of the brand and provide premium pints of consumer faves
  • Risk: As other brands pursue one-off innovation with each new trend, this premium dairy brand doubled down on core equities, facing fewer competitors by providing decadence and finest quality.
  • Fit: Plant-based could not fit with the brand and legacy. Activating on an insight that fits with the core promise of the brand led to rapid success.

Big data has the potential to help brands in numerous ways. Consequently, the global data market is worth an estimated $70BB in 2022, driven by messaging that growth will come with more data or faster analysis. The hurdle is that relying on big data alone gives brands ammunition to analyze only the “What.” Big data can over-shadow other parts of the consumer growth engine which are needed to create and capture consumer value. There are plenty of companies offering more data and platforms to churn through that data at an increasing rate. However, sustainable growth requires insights to blend with analysis and ultimately understand the “why.”

How to get started

To establish and action the Consumer Growth Engine leaders must ask, ‘What’s the Why?”, and brands must:

  • Build forward-looking data sources and analytics
  • Create cross-functional Consumer Growth Engine teams
  • Collect and connect consumer “why” insights and combine with “what” data
  • Wire a process to action Consumer Growth Engine insights

Are you ready to unlock the “why” of your brand to drive future innovation and growth? We welcome conversation at info@seuratgroup.com.

Winning Today vs. Winning Tomorrow: Where will Your Growth Come From?

Winning Today vs. Winning Tomorrow: Where will Your Growth Come From?

Winning Today vs. Winning Tomorrow: Where will Your Growth Come From?

Growth Catalyst super-charges brand growth phase

Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline – these 4 stages represent the expected fate of a brand. The only question for most is: When will each stage kick in? For brands in the growth phase, the work is centered on fueling and executing a proven strategy to win consumers and customers. Once the initial strategy runs its course, brands need a clear catalyst for continued growth, or they face maturity and decline. For some brands, growth is short and sweet, measured in years. Enduring brands find consumer catalysts that extend the growth phase for decades or more. All brands must recognize that winning today and winning tomorrow may be totally different and proactively plan to sustain growth well before stagnation and maturity set in.

Enabling continued growth and redefining the secret sauce employed to win consumers is a fundamental issue for both new and established brands. Our innovative Growth Catalyst Model provides a consumer-first approach to identify and prioritize which beliefs and behaviors will unlock significant growth. Pairing this deep insight with industry expertise supplies the strategic pathway to translate proprietary understanding into meaningful growth.

The Growth Catalyst process involves codifying the drivers of brand usage among current consumers AND developing a deep understanding of barriers to 1) increasing usage, and 2) recruiting new consumers to the brand. We’ve found that barriers are specific to products, occasions, and consumer cohorts, and not all barriers are created equal. Barriers differ greatly in terms of the effort required to change the behavior, and in the growth available from overcoming the barrier. The Growth Catalyst process prioritizes which opportunities to focus on by ranking barriers based on ease of driving behavior change paired with the overall opportunity to drive sales. Top opportunities are then evaluated and prioritized based on the overall level of risk and investment required.
The Growth Catalyst Model is a consumer-driven way to sustain long term brand growth through consumer and consumption growth. Are you ready to chart your long-term growth goals? We welcome conversation at info@seuratgroup.com
2022 Challenger Brand Paper: Gen Z Disruptors

2022 Challenger Brand Paper: Gen Z Disruptors

2022 Challenger Brand Paper: Gen Z Disruptors

While youth have always been at the forefront of defining and shaping trends in society, members of Gen Z are particularly unique in their influence. Gen Z is the most diverse (racially, ethnically, orientation & otherwise) generation in our country’s history, and they’re experiencing the world in one of its most tumultuous forms. Gen Z knows a world of tech reliance, political & social tension, and the stark realities of living in a global pandemic, all shaping the way they influence us today.

Gen Z raises the bar – they are steadfast in their values and expect more from all facets of their world, making what they expect from brands no different. They look for brands to not only reflect their values in mission, but also seamlessly be a part of places they frequent most – different interfaces across the digital sphere. This generation was uniquely digitally reliant & native even prior to the pandemic, and COVID-19’s impact on our whole society’s digital fluency has only solidified & strengthened Gen Z’s positioning as leaders in this realm. For Gen Z, integrated shopping (& brand marketing) across in-store and digital touchpoints has become table stakes, and their dexterity in the digital landscape has given any brand who can harness this authority, authentically, unprecedented power with this consumer & generations beyond. Furthermore, the spending power of Gen Z is second only to Millennials, closing in on $150B despite these shoppers being 24 and under.

Brands that can be part of Gen Z’s lifestyle command significant value across categories, evident by recent acquisitions of challenger brands that target younger consumers by category-leading strategics (e.g., Youth to the People (L’Oreal)).

This year’s Challenger Brand paper introduces 3 key strategies on how to win with the Gen Z consumer and identifies brands who have successfully adopted these strategies.

Challenger Brands that have successfully employed these tactics to become Gen Z Disruptors:

1. Starface: Starface makes skincare fun & is most popular for their star shaped pimple patches. They celebrate youth, make treating acne ‘cute’ & whimsical vs. stigmatized & shameful, and provide an avenue for self-expression. Search #Starface on IG and see teens & adults proudly dawning pimple patches in selfies, even Hailey Bieber.

2. Parade: Inclusive underwear brand Parade brings “unreal comfort” in “expressive basics” to all, promoting sustainable fabrics (with popping colors!) and social good. Parade is a timely entrant to the market, explicitly looking to compete and push out the category incumbents promoting a certain ‘look’ and size as the desired standard vs. loving each individual as they are.

3. Liquid death: Founded by a former punk & heavy-metal band member, Liquid Death brings interesting and provocative marketing to an age-old category – water. Liquid Death’s canned water offer leverages TikTok, partnerships with Gen Z influencers like YouTube’s Cody Ko, and even a joint Netflix campaign to get word out on their visually edgy, sustainable business model focused on plastic reduction & 10% profit give back.

4. Necessaire: Personal care company Necessaire knows what they bring to the table: spa-like aesthetics, subtle, but luxurious products in smell & texture, and a clean, responsible footprint (climate & plastic neutral, clean / vegan formulas, donations per sale). Put this all in a targeted social media strategy that creates buzz & desire to associate oneself with the brand, and Necessaire has taken the ‘Instagram brand’ trope & flipped it on its head.

5. Colourpop: Incubated by the same company that launched Kylie Cosmetics & KKW Beauty, Colourpop consistently outpaces its ‘celebrity-founded /backed’ social competition on digital engagement. Why? Colourpop democratizes beauty in a way that high spend luxury brands don’t, and bets on the social sphere in a way that makes Gen Z gravitate to this ‘new wave’, ‘fast beauty’ brand.

6. Simulate/NUGGS: Plant-based chicken nuggets done right. Take a resonant value equation (plant-based, high taste) & pair it with a social savvy-ness & edge unique in the F&B space and get Simulate – a tech forward ‘chicken’ nuggets brand (NUGGS) looking to go viral and eliminate factory farming. With packaging emulating more ‘fashionable coffee-table book’ than frozen food box, and product pictures that could be out of a Vogue editorial, look to Stimulate to standout as the brand continues to expand from DTC to brick & mortar.

7. Alani Nu: Disrupting traditional energy drinks & historical male-centric targeting, Alani Nu’s brand positioning invites all consumers into the space with cleaner, less harsh options in both ‘vibe’ and nutrition (no sugar, added vitamins). Their most recent partnership with Addison Rae exemplifies the brand’s direction: bubbly Gen Zers who want more energy in a fashionable, permissible & cool way, removing any stigma traditionally associated with the space. Founded in 2018, the brand has reached nearly 800k IG followers in just a few years.

8. BEHAVE: Woman-launched in 2020, BEHAVE is one of the newest entrants to the candy category looking to tackle traditional sentiments towards ‘bad’ foods head on – each package of better-for-you gummies (just 3g of sugar, with 6g of protein) has an all caps BEHAVE crossed out, a nod to more positive attitudes surrounding sweet indulgences. BEHAVE brings competition to the otherwise un-challenged BFY gummy space dominated by Smart Sweets. Bolder messaging & a more accepting POV makes this F&B brand one to watch.
By employing these 3 strategies above, category-leading, established brands can authentically connect with this cohort, too. Recent examples of stalwart brands that have expanded their consumption target to appeal to Gen Z include:
Making a concerted effort to win with Gen Z will expand a brand’s market, growth, and enduring value. We’ve identified three strategies that challenger brands have successfully employed that can translate to companies – large & small – to reach audiences of all ages. As always, we want to hear from you! If you’d like more information on any of our challenger brand studies, or want to share a brand of your own, please reach out at info@seuratgroup.com.
Building a Repeatable Growth Model

Building a Repeatable Growth Model

Building a Repeatable Growth Model

The Repeatable Growth Model

A fundamental need for brands is articulating what they stand for that uniquely delights consumers and differentiates from competitors. As consumer behaviors and values evolve, and competition is constantly in flux, we believe it is important to revisit this foundation often. Standing apart means that brands must be instantly recognizable and top-of-mind with consumers, which is a challenge as consumers make less exploratory and more hurried trips through stores and commerce sites. To maximize the impact of potential connect points with consumers, brands must have a deep understanding and clear articulation of their unique right to win.

At the Seurat Group, we’ve found that brands can increase mental availability and unlock growth by building a Repeatable Growth Model – a framework that captures each brand’s core competencies and codifies how the brand captures, retains, and ultimately delights its consumers. Through the lens of the Repeatable Growth Model, brands can articulate their unique “edge” and develop strategies that improve trial, loyalty and ultimately organic brand advocacy.

Below, we lay out the components of the Repeatable Growth Model.

How It Works

A Repeatable Growth Model is a brand’s unique perpetual motion machine. A successful model leverages deep insight to identify key behavioral triggers and associated activation to draw consumers in, drive repeat purchase, and ultimately gain loyalty.

Example: Fairlife ultra-filtered milk


Trial by Design

Consumers notice the brand on shelf for its eye-catching product design in a sea of traditional milk gallons.

Loyalty by Nutrition

After trying the product, consumers are drawn to incorporate it into their daily routine for its elevated nutrition, which features higher protein and lower sugar than regular milk.

Advocacy by Uncompromising Taste

Finally, loyal consumers become authentic ambassadors for the brand, advocating it to friends and family because it offers the great taste of regular milk in a lactose-free form that removes the digestive pitfalls of dairy.


Fairlife replicated this formula by expanding into coffee creamer and ice cream, two categories with opportunity to maintain the positive taste and texture of traditional dairy while improving on the nutrition and digestive ease of existing options.

How to Develop and Leverage the Model for Growth

Stay close to your consumer. Consumer anthropology and deep discovery are invaluable tools for a brand to reveal and articulate its “secret sauce” among consumers. It is helpful to validate the impact through additional quantitative research.

Map today and tomorrow. A model based on current consumer experiences with your brand can lay out where the brand wins today and provide opportunities to amplify what’s working, but it is also critical to recognize emerging areas your brand needs to win tomorrow. Identify and conduct research among your leading-edge consumers to identify how your brand’s model should evolve to meet tomorrow’s needs.

Understand what “breaks” the model. Equally valuable to understanding the drivers of trial and loyalty is understanding the opposite: what discourages your target consumer from trying or returning to your brand? Listening to lapsed or occasional users can identify opportunities to strengthen the model, building on strengths or addressing weaknesses to convert these consumers into loyalists.


Brands that have charted their Repeatable Growth Model win because they have a litmus test for their consumer strategies going forward, allowing them to communicate and innovate against the key differentiating elements of their offer. We welcome a discussion about what your brand’s Repeatable Growth Model could be!

To discuss any of these ideas further, please contact us at info@seuratgroup.com.