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Eighty-three percent of new consumer packaged goods (CPG) products fail in the market. That’s a huge margin for error, especially when your brand reputation—a company’s most valuable asset—is at risk if the product flops.

At this year’s Customer Intelligence Summit in Chicago, we learned how even the smallest mistake in a new product launch can threaten consumer trust and brand loyalty. We heard from Celia Tombalakian, the senior director of consumer insights and product development at Elizabeth Arden, and Cleo Parker, marketing analyst at Pet Supplies Plus, on how to use customer intelligence to protect your brand.

Here are five key messages from their breakout session:

  1. Guarantee product launch success to build your brand

One way Tombalakian uses customer intelligence to protect the brand is by clearly defining Elizabeth Arden and its products in relation to the market and what consumers want—and will want in the future. Tapping into Arden Insiders, the brand’s insight community of 4,000 beauty enthusiasts, Tombalakian connects directly with target consumers and discovers their needs and wishes.

In 2015, Elizabeth Arden launched more than 1,000 new beauty products in the U.S. alone. “Members of our insight community decide which products win and lose through her own consumer spends and choices,” said Tombalakian. “We have dedicated and discerning beauty enthusiasts at our fingertips, ramping up our ability to make competitive, smart decisions and react at the same pace as the marketplace changes.”

  1. Be innovative in a crowded marketplace

Cleo Parker - marketing analyst at Pet Supplies Plus

Last year, Americans spent $60.28 billion on their pets. For brands like Pet Supplies Plus, a specialty pet shop with four million customers in its database, it must work hard to be innovative and stay relevant in a highly competitive marketplace—especially during a rebrand.

Pet Supplies Plus leadership assumed that its differentiators were the stores’ fun atmosphere, the company’s competitive prices and its organic, natural food products. By asking PSP Pet Connection, an insight community of 5,000 of Pet Supplies Plus customers, Parker realized that consumers actually cared more about convenience and ease.

“They want helpful and quick customer service,” said Parker, “but buying must be easy—that’s why they come to us. One community member even said he calls in to order and pay ahead to avoid all hassle.” Even though management had a different idea about what direction to take the brand refresh, they understood just how important the shopper’s opinion was in this decision. The new brand messaging focuses on making it easy to get the best products for your pet.  

  1. Boost marketing campaign performance

Using its insight community, Elizabeth Arden engages with consumers at every stage of the marketing cycle. For example, the brand’s gift-with-purchase promotional program is the single most important sales driver every year. By showing Arden Insiders two different promotional marketing ideas and asking them which headlines they preferred, Tombalakian discovered that 77 percent liked the ‘Get Gifted!’ headline over ‘I love my gift.’

Using its insight community, Elizabeth Arden engages with consumers at every stage of the marketing cycle.

“The data allowed us to justify the decisions to our regional partners,” said Tombalakian, “who in turn used the data such as purchase intent to entice their retail partners to participate.”

  1. Navigate business decisions with confidence

Tombalakian asks Arden Insiders members to test copy, print ad concepts, promotional offerings, model photography and new brand or product ideas. “We’ve minimized debate on certain product decisions because we know our consumer’s preference and have stats that back it up,” she said.

Customer feedback goes beyond supporting marketing and creative decisions. With customer intelligence at their fingertips, the global marketing team can better predict where markets are going and what consumers want in the future. “We launched our community as a one-year pilot and within the six months we were discussing plans for geographic expansion,” shared Tombalakian.

  1. Develop trust and respect among customers

PSP Pet Connection community members are also active members of the brand’s Preferred Pet Club loyalty program. “We know these are some of our most engaged customers because they are passionate about buying the best products for their pets,” said Parker. As loyal shoppers, insight community members care about the decisions Pet Supplies Plus makes, and they are honest in their feedback. Together, the brand and its consumers have developed a trusting, authentic and respectful relationship.  

Be sure to check out more 2016 Customer Intelligence Summit updates on our blog in the coming weeks.

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