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Growing pains: from category opportunity to brand win

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How can brands successfully bridge the gap between their existing positioning and a new category opportunity?

With a wealth of category and trend analysis available to identify innovation ‘hot spots’, there is no shortage of opportunity spaces for brands to stretch into to achieve growth. The real challenge is finding a way to occupy these spaces, in a way that makes sense to consumers. New concepts that look great on paper frequently fail to hit the mark with research respondents. How many times have we all heard variations on the theme of:

“It’s a copycat – just jumping on a posh and trendy band-wagon”


“That’s not right – it’s trying to be something that it isn’t”

The underlying problem is established consumer perception; when deeply engrained associations are seemingly at odds with new ideas, a ‘credibility gap’ emerges.

To bridge this gap, stimulating a shift in perception is required – but that’s easier said than done. Too often we rely on system 2 conscious responses – in effect asking people to say whether they ‘think’ something is right. With the rational brain in charge, any perceived mismatches between the now and the next we are trying to create solidify – and concepts are undermined. Instead, we need to look to system 1 subconscious responses where, without rational filters, instincts encourage us to ‘feel’ whether something is right. 

So, how do we stimulate these more real – and ultimately more reliable -responses?  

The short answer is that we rely more on pictures than words. The longer version is that we use carefully considered imagery to build visual maps of the brand, the category landscape we are exploring and the brand innovation journey we want to take people on. The aim is to alignment the three in order to identify a ‘sweet spot’ that feels meaningful, credible and natural for the brand to stretch into and own.

It’s an approach we’ve used successfully when developing KitKat’s new Senses platform, we demonstrated that a famous confectionery brand need not be constrained by its ‘everyday’ heritage and iconic product format; and that a commodity category not only had room for a new brand, but a new premium brand.

To find out more about building bridges between category opportunity and brand wins, get in touch…


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