I’ve worked in the marketing communications team at MMR
Research Worldwide for over five years, and part of my role has been working
with the research team to help visualise findings so that they’re easily
digested by our clients at debrief and beyond. In order to do this well, I’ve
had to read a lot of proposals and reports and it’s a fascinating business where
I learn new things every day. But I’ve never had the chance to attend a client
meeting and see how it unfolds.
Recently however, we partnered with a challenger brand whose
execution was letting down a great idea. They wanted to know how they could better
leverage their brand equity through the sensory cues given by the pack and the
actual product, and in so doing, establish a unique sensory signature that
So far in the project, the sensory landscape for the
category has been statistically mapped with MMR’s sensory panel data. This
means that the panel have explored every product in the competitive set and
detected all the sensory attributes. Those attributes fall into certain
territories on the map and those territories range far and wide - some of them
surprising for the category.
The brand’s products were overlaid on the map, clearly
occupying one territory. But it was when the competitor products were overlaid
that opportunities began to reveal themselves and the excitement in the room
began to build. Surrounded by prototypes, and with the brand’s objectives
in mind, Consumer and Sensory Scientist, Dr Caroline Withers was able to
suggest a desirable territory on the map and advise how one or two of the
prototypes could be optimised to work in this area.
This information alone is valuable and workable and could no
doubt produce a delicious product or delectable fragrance that sits in the
right sensory territory, but the missing piece of the puzzle is brand fit. And
how do you make a product taste or smell like the brand?
Cue Stage II.
In the coming weeks, the competitive set will be
conceptually profiled using a specially selected category lexicon of emotional,
functional and abstract terms. Each product will have a unique profile and by
combining that conceptual profile with the sensory data from Stage 1, our team
can understand the sensory cues that are driving those conceptualisations.
We’ll know if the territory identified above is the right territory for the
brand, and if so, we’ll know how to optimise the product accordingly.
For me, it was such a delight to watch our clients eyes
light up as questions were answered. She could see clearly why the original
execution wasn’t working and she had a clear idea of where to go next and what
to expect. I can’t wait to see the outcome of the next stage, and how those
learnings will be applied to the packaging piece.
Vicki Hamilton is Associate Director, Marketing
Communications at MMR.