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.

Five Tips for Growing in a Recession

Five Tips for Growing in a Recession

Five Tips for Growing in a Recession

While the National Bureau of Economic Research is still debating whether we’re in recession, it’s clear many US households are in for a rough ride. Consumer confidence is down for the third consecutive month[i], we’ve had two quarters of negative GDP growth[ii], and 75% Americans are “very concerned” about rising prices for food and consumer goods.[iii]

Seasoned business leaders may be tempted to dust off recession playbooks from 2008, but things look a lot different this time around. In addition to lingering post-COVID supply chain challenges and conflict in Ukraine, Americans are facing significantly greater economic headwinds:

    • Gas prices (while abating) are averaging $4.20 per gallon
    • Inflation for food at home is north of 12%, 2.5x what it was in 2008[iv]
    • SNAP participation rose from 28MM individuals in 2008 to 42MM in 2021[v]
    • The average home price to median income ratio increased from 6.0 to 8.3 since 2008[vi]

Thankfully, with the right strategy, brands can not only survive, but thrive in this environment – and better deliver on consumers’ evolving needs – provided they act decisively and lead vs. follow. Read on for Seurat’s tips for growing in a recession.

1. Welcome consumers “feeling the pinch” into your brand.

During periods of expansion, businesses can afford to remain focused on a singular consumer target. The result is consumers most likely to feel an economic pinch tend to be overlooked, despite tremendous collective buying power. (The total spending power of US households earning less than $70k per year is a staggering $2.3T.[vii])

Savvy brands see value in identifying and recruiting secondary consumer targets, which often means casting a wider socioeconomic net. Consider the meteoric rise of buy now pay later services, which funnel an estimated $120B in global spending[viii]. Nearly 25,000 merchants, including household name brands like Kiehl’s and Vital Proteins, now let shoppers pay in installments interest-free through Afterpay[ix]. The service has allowed these brands to access a new cohort – younger shoppers who don’t buy on credit.

Our Equity Expansion practice is designed to help brands reach new consumer cohorts – including those most likely to feel an economic pinch – by building empathy and optimizing go to market.

2. Pivot communications to highlight value.

Research has shown that even in a recession, brands still need to invest in equity-building. And with material costs at a record high, brands can’t afford to keep buying down price through promotional spending. The answer? Stop focusing on price, and pivot comms to showcase the numerator of your value equation.

Take LL Bean’s recent campaign celebrating durability. Inspired by the true story of an eight-year-old girl who wanted a new backpack and wrote a letter to the company asking how to wear it out, the campaign smartly focuses on defining value through long-lasting quality, not price. Highlighting value often means reframing the equation, the way powdered beverage mixes celebrate more servings relative to a jug of juice or two-liter of soda.

Our marketing strategy pillar helps brands celebrate their value equation, identifying the right message to resonate with the right consumers at the right moments.

3. Reimagine price/pack architecture.

When costs rise, manufacturers are quick to leverage price / pack architecture to protect and even juice margins. But consumers have gotten wise to “shrinkflation” – many responding with public outrage – and a recession isn’t the time to start chipping away at shopper value. When the going gets tough, smart brands turn to Strategic Revenue Management, tweaking product sizes and pack configurations to optimize for value-conscious shoppers.

Consider Dove body wash on Amazon. As of this writing, a single 16.9 oz bottle sells for $0.48/oz. For shoppers who have the budget and space to buy and store more inventory, a three-pack of 28 oz bottles sells for 40% less at $0.29/oz. Similarly, confectionery manufacturers are shifting to smaller, even single-serving packs at lower price points that allow consumers to indulge without breaking the bank.

Our SRM practice – perhaps the least sexy but one of the most important drivers of value creation – helps brands design and optimize portfolios to balance shopper value with profitability.

4. Make yourself indispensable.

Products seen as catering to wants vs. needs are typically the first to go in a recession. Smart brands make themselves indispensable by continually reminding consumers of the need they’re solving or pain point they’re alleviating. The trick is leveraging smart marketing to connect to basic needs, like safety, security and wellness.

When condom sales plummeted during COVID as the virus wreaked havoc on non-monogamous hookups, Trojan retrenched in messaging about protection and STI/STD prevention. The brand remains the best-selling condom today – all the more impressive given its premium price position.

Our brand architecture practice helps brands sharpen their reason for being – including positioning themselves as indispensable in the lives of consumers – ultimately boosting ROI through more effective marketing.

5. Nurture relationships with the right customers.

With economic headwinds, shoppers make different choices about where and how they buy – forcing businesses to revisit channel prioritization. For many, this will require renewed focus on Walmart and “alternative” channels like convenience, dollar and discounter (e.g., Aldi). For others, it will mean doubling down on existing customer relationships as customers re-evaluate priorities and partnerships.

Successful brands engage in joint business planning, prioritizing category growth over individual brand priorities. That means bringing breaking the cycle of SKU-level line reviews and bringing forward-looking insights and thought leadership.

Our customer leadership practice helps brands elevate their relationships with omnichannel retailers, positioning them as strategic partners vs. transactional vendors.

Looking to ensure your business is wired to grow in the next 12-18 months? Contact us at info@seuratgroup.com.

Durable Growth via Consumer-First Strategy

Durable Growth via Consumer-First Strategy

Durable Growth via Consumer-First Strategy


The past 24 months have redefined instability & reactionary movement globally & in the CPG landscape. COVID-19, international conflict, inflationary pressure, supply chain disruption & margin compression have altered how businesses operate, plan, and succeed, with CPG being no exception. This rests upon an already overwhelming information environment brands compete for consumer mindshare within. These macro factors leave leaders wrestling with how to navigate the turbulence, break through the clutter, and deliver enduring, profitable growth.

The answer, more than ever, lies in the Consumer.

Defining Your Consumer Market

Understandably, uncomfortable times lead many manufacturers & brand planners to hyper focus on the numbers & metrics. This often means defining initiatives through a category-tracked means (i.e. a market structure, CDT, syndicated data base) or through customer and channel challenges. While these business views are not unimportant, neither is optimal to define growth strategies and unlock durable growth.
By framing your market through the consumer vantage point, demand planning & investment are tightly focused towards tangible steps to unlock outsized impact where value lies. In order to frame your market correctly, first you need to segment your consumer universe. Then you need to identify a target (i.e design target, retain target, recruit target) and finally, you need to plan against them. This will bring clarity and actionable focus, making it easier to translate insight into actions across the organization. Sizing your consumer segment opportunity forces a forward-looking view to understand the barriers and triggers to source the growth and consumer behaviors to change.

Wiring a Consumer-First Growth Strategy

A clearly articulated & sized consumer market, identified design target & according activation tactics focus the demand plan design against the priority consumer goals. Consumer first orientation enables companies to translate their mission & vision more seamlessly – often rooted in the consumer – to be more tightly linked to commercial planning. This ‘wiring’ of a Consumer-First Growth Model (illustrated below) enables brands to synchronize the entire demand plan against the consumer priorities and show up as powerfully as possible to deliver an omni-channel brand experience.

How to Get Started

By fleshing out consumer market, consumer priorities, and size of opportunity we can inform the proper insight towards integrated demand planning. Are you looking to deliver durable, profitable 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.