What we do

We work across Brand & CVP Development, New Product Development, Marketing Communications, Shopper & CX across both consumer and B2B audiences, both in Australia and internationally.

Creating brands and propositions that thrive; in the micro-moments of decision ‘salience’ is everything!

We work with some of Australia’s biggest brands to help them deliver compelling positionings and customer value propositions to their markets.

In our complex world, with time-poor consumers, where brand and category engagement can be fleeting, what we call brand ‘salience’ is key. That is, the associations, generally emotionally based, that sit within the preconscious mind that we draw upon when making decisions. This is what is triggered in the micro moments of decision. This is what we need to embed through our positioning and execution of brand strategy: building familiarity (the Availability Heuristic), creating positive emotional associations (the Affect Heuristic) and making the brand and product associations easy to process and think about (the Processing Fluency Heuristic).

Case Study: Avery: Always  works, always looks good

The challenge: Avery were looking to defend their brand and maximise sales in key retailers such as Officeworks in a highly competitive context where price-based attack was impacting sales. 

We used a combined approach of in-store observation and intercept interviewing, as well as focus groups, to understand behaviour, perceptions of the category and co-create solutions. The research showed that it was extremely difficult to shop the category; consumers could take up to 10-15 minutes to find the product they wanted. Clearly the category plan and packaging were simply not working in store.

Further, there was notable anxiety about buying the wrong item – “won’t work in printer”, “wasted time”, “look less professional”. Clearly, a range of emotional, as well as rational drivers sat behind label use and purchasing. We needed to find ways of reminding consumers why Avery was the right choice.

ResultWhile it is easy to think of address labels as a low involvement transactional purchase, we found that this couldn’t be further from the truth. We helped Avery to identify and articulate its brand promise to remind consumers why Avery was worth paying a premium for by defining a new positioning. This was then rolled into a new brand campaign and packaging. Subsequently, sales in the Avery premium range have stabilised and the process of the reconnecting the brand to consumers is well underway.

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NPD should be profoundly human…

Design Thinking underpins our approach to NPD. We put people and their behaviour at the centre of what we do and combine this with the creative thinking needed to inspire success. 

We have a flexible NPD process approach which harnesses a range of tools to help us deliver successful outcomes. We start with the fundamentals and the process often resembles a series of short “sprints” and feedback loops to drive iterative development. We also learn through testing, where feasible, with a test and control approach. 

Case Study: ANZ Apple Pay launch: ‘A big deal. For a fraction of a second’.

The challenge: At the time of the study, there was little understanding of where consumers were with mobile payment technologies. We needed to work out quickly what to do in this critical banking space.

Step 1: Vox pops and client ideation, including customer immersion sessions, primed the process. It was immediately evident that consumer behaviour and attitudes were more advanced than initially thought. In order to get ahead, the brand had to take a big step forward!

Step 2: Concept clinics took place to develop product features and communication territories. Key product delivery elements were pinned down e.g. security settings. We also landed compelling communication territories and, crucially, the right tone needed in this developing space – we couldn’t do “Wow! Futuristic!” – it had to be grounded in today’s reality.

Result: ANZ became the first bank to launch Apple Pay in Australia and delivers market-leading features in mobile payments. High performing advertising campaigns helped ANZ seize the initiative, with straplines developed in the initial ideation session!

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Shopper, CX and ‘Retail Theatre’

We work for some of Australia’s leading retailers to understand responses to the physical retail environment and so help optimise sales. 

A key element of many consumers’ decision process is less to do with the actual product and as much to do with the ‘theatre’, or experience, that surrounds it – the codes, heuristics, semiotics and physical experiences that provide meaning. We call this Retail Theatre’. We help clients get this right.

Case Study: Coles Healthy Living

The challenge: Coles wanted to optimise delivery of a whole new category aisle in the store which offered hundreds of new products for those with dietary conditions such as lactose intolerance etc. We needed to optimise the look and feel of the design, including the complex task of POS ticketing to flag the dietary conditions the different products catered to.

We used a mixed methodology combining behavioural science techniques and test-and-control scenarios across different stores. The store design and product range researched very well.

However, awareness of specific ticketing by dietary condition, e.g. Low GI etc., was low. Indeed, many people with conditions completely missed products that were meant for them. Learnings from behavioural economics highlighted a number of issues – primary was “cognitive blur”, where the mind screens out material due to being overloaded, and people simply do not see what might be literally in front of their eyes. Strangely for a retailer, the answer was to reduce the amount of POS material.

Result: The Simply Healthy Living category is now an established and highly profitable fixture in many premium Coles stores.

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Supporting the development of great advertising; emotional response is more important than anything…

The work of Binet & Field has clearly illustrated that ads driven by emotional content outperform those with rational content, and as the guys from System 1 in the UK say, “the more people feel, the more people buy”. That’s why, whether it’s creative development, pre-testing or tracking, as well as optimising brand recall and messaging of any rational, System 2, messaging, our primary consideration is emotional take-out and implicit messaging.

We also take care in our work to ensure that early creative concepts get the best chance of success and that great creative work doesn’t get thrown out due to raw execution.

Case Study: Thursday Plantation, ‘Ouch!’

The challenge: Thursday Plantation, when promoting their range of natural antiseptics, needed to achieve maximum impact given the superior spending power of their big brand competitors.

Through a qualitative creative development phase and in subsequent pre-testing, we supported the development of a truly emotionally engaging campaign which harnessed the love and concern mums feel at that “ouch” moment when their child gets hurt. We used cognitive response techniques to measure the level of emotional engagement that was achieved.

Result: A campaign that was able to punch above its weight of spend by harnessing the emotional connection between mother and child.

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Business to Business is still all about people

Many of our clients are leading corporates, dealing with other businesses, who need to understand how their brand and product is perceived. We help them drive strategy through Partner Engagement Studies, Choice Driver analysis, Customer Value Proposition development and New Product Development. 

We understand the sensitivities that can be involved in business-to-business and C-suite interviewing. Sometimes there can be different agendas within a single organisation impacting the same decision and we need to consider the audience as people with needs at two levels – both professional and personal. Critical too is to remember that even in the world of business, emotions are still key; we are all hardwired the same way in terms of how we make decisions. Business people are not necessarily any more ‘rational’ than anyone else. Further, the rules of brand and CVP development remain the same: brand salience and the other drivers of brand response are still critical. 

Case Study: Australia Post Pharmaceutical

The challenge: To understand the needs of the pharmaceutical sector and develop a compelling customer value proposition (CVP) to drive Australia Post’s strategy in this area. Crucial was that this had to be relevant right through the supply chain from manufacturers to wholesalers, through to national and independent retail.

As is often the case with B2B studies, getting a detailed briefing on the sector and the products involved was essential. This briefing, incorporated into an ideation workshop, allowed us to develop a range of potential CVPs that we were able to take into face-to-face and, when Covid-19 came down, Zoom depths with the key audiences.

The research not only provided a detailed diagnostic of Australia Post and their competitors, but provided a detailed understanding of the needs of a sector where the regulatory burden is enormous and the need for speed paramount.

Result: The study provided a solid base of understanding to guide strategy both in the short and medium term. Working with Australia Post, we delivered a compelling brand platform and helped them prioritise proof point delivery to the various sub-sectors in the pharma space. The research also supported Australia Post’s response to Covid-19 with the delivery of a same-day pharmacy to customer delivery service.

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Our work spans the globe with a specific focus on Asia

We have over 20 years’ international research experience of multi-country qualitative and quantitative research, covering markets as diverse as Bulgaria, Brazil, China and the USA.

Our primary expertise, as the central coordinator of international research, is the ability to translate the business objective into realistic and insightful local market research and analysis and distil this into actionable output. We are not part of a rigid network; our range of international suppliers is prosaic. We select the best local agencies/moderators dependent upon the subject at hand. 

Understanding comes from more than asking questions – it comes from immersion in the local markets and cultures we study.

Case Study: Sunrice: selling Australian rice in Asia

The challenge: Sunrice needed to develop a masterbrand positioning that would work across a range of Asian markets, but also across food categories, from the core rice range to children and adult snacking.

We undertook a cultural immersion study including desk research, vox pops and store tours, backed up by focus groups in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Key was not only understanding local market food culture, and in Singapore we were careful to split out the Malay population from the Chinese, as well as the pressures on mums in these markets – but to harness the attributes that Australian grown could offer.

Result: A compelling Asia-wide positioning supported by local market understanding that provided long-term value to the business.

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