Due to the future-focused nature of the projects we work on, many of our case studies have to remain confidential. The recent examples we talk about here give an overview of the kinds of product development and strategy challenges we take on.
Like many mature markets, the coffee sector is overflowing with competitors. So how do you ever justify launching a new product and how can you hope to dislodge the competition? During the summer of 2018 a team from Groundswell Innovation worked with Finlays, a global coffee producer, to stare down exactly this kind of challenge.
Here’s what the Management team at Finlays had to say about our project:
We engaged with the Groundswell’s team on a brand proposition that lacked traction. We needed an external and unbiased view on whether to invest further time and money or focus precious resource in other areas. After an initial exploratory meeting it became clear the team could add value. They got to know our business, markets and products and we established project budget spend, key deliverables and project milestones in a timely manner.
Through a combination of exploratory research in to analogous market sectors, category reviews for major retailers and in-home interviews the team delivered:
The Identification of white space for a new product to enter the market, despite this sector being very well established and extremely crowded with old and emerging competitors.
Comprehensive learnings that demonstrated the right marketing mix (product, price, value proposition) to communicate to retailers.
An understanding of what this new branded product would replace and how it was different from competitor offerings.
Clarification of key barriers and triggers, to maximise consumer trial and sustained product take-up once in store.
At all times Groundswell team members used their vast industry, market and brand experience to recommend sensible and practical options, which helped us make a balanced decision.
Most people have had to make a complaint to an organisation’s customer services team at some point in their life. How did that experience make you feel – more loyal to the company because they handled it so well, or swearing never to use them again?
Often referred to as a ‘Key moment of Truth’, these interactions can have a huge impact on your how your company is perceived.
But let’s take a minute to consider the staff dealing with these complaints day-in, day-out. Customer complaints can be a symptom of a problem within the systems and processes of a business, and these teams can generate significant insights and value to an organisation – if given the opportunity to do so.
We were invited to the York offices of Openreach to spend a working lunch with their Customer Resolution and Complaints team to carry out a structured conversation to understand where they would like to see changes to current working practices.
The team wrote down 11 areas for discussion to be debated in small groups - using their knowledge and experience to come up with potential solutions. In the time allowed, the team focussed on 3 core areas, and came up with a list of strategic interventions to tackle the root causes of their customer’s complaints.
"When my team participated in a 'lunch and learn' session with Groundswell Innovation, we were all impressed with how many practical new ideas we came up with - in just one hour. There was a real buzz during and after the session. It was focused, energetic and delivered an instant outcome."
James Harrison, Head of Customer Resolution and Complaints
Openreach, BT Group
As an artisan manufacturer, Cumbria Crystal is as much in need of sales growth as any other small business, despite regular orders from prestigious clients including all the British Embassies and period drama Downton Abbey. In 2016, Groundswell Innovation helped them with that sales growth, via an immediately implementable marketing strategy and action plan.
Two key objectives of the strategy were to increase international sales, and to broaden the range of products being purchased on a regular basis. Overall, the project paid for itself out of increased revenue within three months.
"Working with Groundswell was a rewarding experience. They understood the subtleties of the nature of our brief to raise the profile of our luxury brand and the restraints which we worked with. The strategies we developed have resulted in the e-commerce platform generating 20% of the company turnover in two years."
Chris Blade, Managing Director, Cumbria Crystal
Lancaster University consistently ranks as one of the Top 10 universities in the UK, yet potential students frequently perceived it as a lower-ranking university.
In an overcrowded market, it’s important for any brand to be clear about who they are and what that stand for. Without fully developing its points of differentiation, Lancaster University was risking potential students walking away and choosing an alternative.
"Following the project with Groundswell innovation, we developed a clear brand definition, and were also able to introduce a ‘tone of voice’ section to the Brand Guidelines for the first time. This has been used in both the student recruitment and video campaigns and we are rolling it out across all our future communications."
Clare Riding, Head of Marketing, Lancaster University
If ever there was a brief delivered with a shrug of acceptance that nothing can be done, this has to be it. How do you even start a conversation about credit cards in the Netherlands – a market whose debt products are advertised by law with a ‘ball and chain’ financial health warning?
But by designing product concepts in line with cultural and attitudinal understanding, we opened the door to conversations with 3 major banks. As a result, our global payments industry client has a clear entry strategy into a market that had been written off.
“I must say that I am positively impressed by the thoroughness of the research and the intelligent propositions built. I feel comfortable to share your ideas as they are a fit and in sync with the cultures and habits of the banks on high level.”
Daniel Van Delft – Banking Sector Relationship Manager, Netherlands
We took the principles behind LSE Professor Paul Dolan’s best-selling book Happiness by Design and developed a work-place change programme that is now being used to tackle issues such as:
- how to transition people from full-time work towards retirement;
- how to combat ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitudes between departments.
“The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.”
This is the basis of our in-work happiness programme. Changing a few small things for the better. Because it makes a big overall difference to employee wellbeing.
Our 10 week programme gives people enough time to set new patterns of behaviour. Participants take direct action to improve their work context, so they feel much more positive about the control they have over their job and how it makes them feel.
We coach, they do. Step by step, they improve the ‘destructive little things’ in their working lives.
This was the challenge facing Stephensons Dairy when they decided to compete head-on with global dairy producers. In Spring 2015 they launched Free Range Milk – a real shift away from intensive farming techniques because cows are grazed on grassland pasture day and night for over half of the year. What started out as a home-delivery business has expanded rapidly and in the process, is putting more money directly into farmers’ pockets.
“We are blazing a trail in an industry that is otherwise full of bad news. If we can turn around the milk production and delivery industry, we will bring hope and ideas to other British industries facing similar challenges.
Groundswell helped us clarify our route to market. We needed to focus on working with suppliers and developing process technology. They bridged the gap and equipped us to make the most of the opportunity from day one”
Chris Stephenson, Stephensons Dairy