Fitting into a New Space


Written By: Lindsey Neeld

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After effective entry into Europe and Australia, a globally recognized spirits brand is now gearing up to launch a line of ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages in the US market. Recognizing there are cultural and category differences, we were highly precise about specifics surrounding flavor and packaging preferences. It was also imperative to understand the behavioral differences of RTD consumption in the US and perceptions surrounding the overall brand.

Our Methodology
We developed a robust in-depth study that immersed participants in the spirit brand’s RTD world. We did this in a way that allowed us to get unadulterated reads on their reactions to, and preferences for, the brand’s RTD flavors and packaging line up.

People typically don’t decide what RTD to purchase until they’re in-store at the shelf, so being eye-catching and enticing is key. To get the fast, intuitive reads on what product design options stand out and are most appealing, we conducted Gallery Groups where the various package design options were placed alongside one another and participants were given a set of emoji stickers ranging from delight to annoyance. The participants had approximately five minutes to chart their initial reactions to the various product design options. Our Gallery Groups methodology solves for two major biases of standard focus groups – moderator bias and dominant participant bias – allowing us to get cleaner reads on how people feel about the stimulus they’re seeing. This process also helps us avoid post-rationalization and gives a visual heat map of strengths and weaknesses.

Through a brand equity polarities exercise conducted at the beginning of the groups – a blind test with multiple brands to rate – and then again at the end, with a sole focus on the brand at hand, we were also able to see how this new news about this spirit brand entering the RTD category shifted overall perceptions surrounding it.

The Findings
Coming out of these groups we were able to effectively provide our client with knowledge and insights that nailed their wide range of objectives, better clarifying what flavours to launch in the U.S. market, and key things to consider in order to optimize package design.

We also uncovered some key findings that went beyond the objectives laid out in the proposal. For one, RTD drinking occasions tend to be social and high energy meaning these occasions are led by events rather than mood. Another thing we learned is there’s a latent desire for slightly more premium/sophisticated options within the RTD category and there’s an expectation of this brand elevating the category. While this may be added pressure for the brand, it’s a clear sign that they’ll be welcomed with open arms into the marketplace.

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