A Mind Bender

Rob Levine

by Rob Levine

Partner / President

An astute client with a British accent right out of central casting blew my mind last week. I was presenting category data to advise a route to market, and he stopped me. “Rob, there is clearly a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap?”

It took me a moment to go through the mental gymnastics to really understand the question. Our insights were telling us that a gap in need states existed. Consumers were filling it through other products, completely outside of our category. The essence of his question was, “Are there enough people who would purchase the product in order to make the venture profitable?”

Over the years, our insights and planning practice has evolved from a traditional brand positioning practice to a true brand consultancy. Our time-tested Clarity CaptureSM process, which utilizes primary and secondary research to crystallize brand messaging, proved to be a strong spiritual foundation to solving different types of brand problems for our clients.

But we knew there was an opportunity to start the process earlier and dig deeper. Expanding on the principles of Clarity Capture has allowed us to play a more integral role in the direction of our clients’ brands.  Within the last year, we have embarked on a host of market sizing initiatives.

The inputs vary: ethnographies, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, quantitative studies, IRI data, panel data. The key is taking a step back and developing a reverse pyramid that starts with the total US population and narrows down through a series of criteria until we are left with just those who would be likely to purchase our product. Through our Clarity PlusSM offerings, we have helped to drive strong brand decisions, including:

  • More highly defined targeting for a client entering the value-added seafood category
  • Identifying volume important product categories for an ingredient client working to bring a new protein offering to market
  • Prioritizing claims on a new fiber product based on marketplace acceptance and willingness to pay

Today’s agencies can’t just have communications insights. In order to function as a strategic partner, you must understand how your client makes money and how targeting decisions function as a lever on the path to profitability. Cuba Gooding, Jr. asked Jerry Maguire to show him the money, not the tagline.

So, the market opportunity question is the right one to ask. In the end, people sell stuff. Who they sell it to, how they sell it and how much they charge is equally as important as what the brand says. When you understand the brand from all facets, you can identify both the gap in the market and the market in the gap.

 True collaboration happens when you have a partner who shares your enthusiasm. Get in touch with David Melnick, VP of Strategic Partnerships, at 410.336.1000 or davidm@marriner.com to discuss opportunities to work together.

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