viability study & Focus group DEVELOPmenT
Primary Retail Brand Consultant & Creative Director
Following the unprecedented success of the M&M’s World three retail locations in Vegas, Orlando & New York, along with US chocolate retail sales reaching $17b in early 2008, the family owned Mars Corporation decided to move forward toward capitalizing similarly with another of their brands: Dove Chocolates. Internal research indicated that Dove Promises, their bite size premium chocolate offering, was closing in on Hershey Kisses with growth stats of 20 percent or more. Their quest? To validate or disprove the hypothesis with a leanly mobilized, quick-paced deep dive into both the financial & brand equity based viability of a bricks & mortar expression, more provocative of a lifestyle brand, that could ultimately compete with the likes of Starbucks.
The challenge required immersion into research & data to quickly formulate four distinctive nuanced positionings potentially reflective of the existing consumer's expectations & aspirations, plus the growth goals set forth. Creative iteration was then led to bring the four strategic speculations to life across an array of consumer journey touchpoints to be used in formal qualitative focus groups &, ultimately, following the selection of a singular direction with refinements, to be evaluated as a pop-up environment in NYC.
This validation exercise launched in late summer of 2008, with Lehman Brothers declaring bankruptcy on September 15th of that year from fallout due to the mortgage crisis. Although Dove Promise senior product management did proceed with focus group research, they ultimately elected not to move ahead further given the emerging economic climate.