Launching a premium product means convincing consumers to trade up, without driving them to the competition.

This is the exact challenge faced by the Global Insights Manager at a best-selling charcoal brand as she prepared to launch two new premium products.

The brand offers various charcoal products and sauces which have been synonymous with American BBQs for decades. As consumer grilling tastes have evolved, the brand recognized there were unmet needs among the most enthusiastic grilling aficionados.

The result was the development of new premium products. However, this innovation posed its own set of marketing challenges. The original product remained popular; the brand couldn’t risk putting claims on the premium packaging that would negatively impact its baseline product.

What a consumer cookout can teach you about product claims

Key to this differentiation was consumer input into the claims generation. Given the experiential nature of product, the brand’s Global Insights Manager felt it was important to engage these passionate consumers in the claims research process, but was unsure how to accomplish this.

Enter the decision-behavior experts…

We designed a three-step process to help her team identify the most effective claim for the brand’s original line – starting with a BBQ!

  1. One tasty cookout: One sunny afternoon, the branding, marketing and research teams met on the lawns behind the charcoal brand’s R&D center for a cookout. Joining them to fire up the grills and eat in the sun was a pre-recruited group of creative consumers with an inextinguishable love of grilling. The idea was to bring all of these groups together and, as a first step, get them into the brand experience to get their mindset right for what happened next.Claims testing and consumer workshops
  2. SKIM claims workshop: Immediately following the BBQ, we held a training session for both the consumers and the brand’s insights team on how to write an effective claim. We’ve done a lot of work over the years in testing these kinds of product claims and related messages about products, so we shared our proven SKIM Communications Guidelines, best practices, as well as what should be avoided. Still smoky and satiated, attendees were then tasked with writing a wide variety of claims based on the experience, the training session, and their pre-existing knowledge of the brand.

  3. Research rigor: A selection of categories became apparent, from claims that the product made food taste better, to ones about how easy the charcoal was to use. We used a combination of a MaxDiff methodology for screening the concepts and then a Choice-Based Conjoint Analysis to prioritize them. This approach enabled us to identify objectively the precise product claim that resonated the most with consumers.

Key claims takeaways for brand managers

While a summer cookout might not be your immediate thought when you hear the words ‘market research,’ the challenges associated with launching a premium brand and convincing consumers to trade up are universal. Here are key insights from this claims approach you can apply to your brand.

  • Be open-minded to different or unique research methodologies. If you’re clear on your marketing objective, partner with an insights agency who will help best achieve that; whether it’s via traditional, new or hybrid research techniques. In this case, our client didn’t have a specific methodology in mind and we developed a creative approach that was flexible, yet powerful, to meet her needs.
  • When differentiating between tiers, you should consider the impact of emotional claims, versus more technical ones. This brand’s typical claims had been technical in nature. However, adopting a more emotionally-focused claim allowed the brand to differentiate the premium line from the traditional line. As a result, the premium messaging better resonated with the specialist requirements of the more experienced charcoal consumer.

Whether you’re aiming to drive purchases online or offline, we’ll team up with you to recommend the best insights approach to boost your communications strategy. Blending both rational and implicit techniques, we can create, test and optimize messaging, claims, adcepts, packaging, CTAs, and ads to ensure brand success.

Do you have a taste for a new approach to developing and testing product claims?

Contact us to learn how we can make your communications more delicious.