Case Study

Dog Food Category Strategy Activation Workshops: Translating Insights


A pet food company founded in the late 1960s was witnessing falling sales year over year.

While decades ago, the brand was unrivaled, the market had changed and so had the company. To reverse their position, new management wanted a holistic diagnosis of the issues the brand was facing and a roadmap for turning things around.

C+R designed a qualitative research program followed by a Strategy Activation Workshop to help our client get back on top.


Decades of Success, but Falling Sales

After more than 40 years in business, a pet food brand was experiencing steady declines and increasing pressure from retailers.

In addition to evolving market trends, the brand had experienced a number of internal stressors – including changes in ownership and management. To reverse the trend, new management wanted a holistic diagnosis; they wanted to understand the current pet food landscape, their brand’s core strengths and weaknesses, and any barriers consumers face in purchasing their brand. Along with a diagnosis, the company wanted an action plan for turning things around.


Looking for a Holistic Diagnosis and an Action Plan

To help the brand diagnose the issues and develop a plan, C+R conducted multi-modal qualitative research.

First, we moderated in-person focus groups with brand loyalists and competitive consumers to explore their attitudes, motivations, and brand perceptions. We also captured their experiences at-shelf with a pre-group homework activity.

To supplement the in-person work, we conducted an online immersive community with consumers from across the US – an efficient way to find and engage with brand defectors, as well as current buyers and switchers. Participants also completed shopping missions to help us understand purchase drivers.

Next, to translate research insights into action, C+R facilitated a Strategy Activation Workshop for the core team. The dynamic, day-long session included ice breakers and engagement activities, a research results presentation with extensive Q&A, and creative exercises for ideating around potential solutions to the biggest challenges identified by the research.

During creative exercises, team members were in a divergent mindset – focused on production and not judgment. But by the end of the day, everyone noticed emergent themes. So, we further converged the output to prioritize the strategies that evoked the most interest and excitement.

The result

More Than Just a Research Report – Experiential Learning Helps Things Stick

Through online and in-person qualitative research, we identified core brand drivers as well as reasons for defecting. The research revealed specifically why the brand wasn’t resonating with consumers given their category needs.

Our qualitative report included a number of actionable recommendations for increasing brand relevance. In addition, the day-long Strategy Activation Workshop gave the client a chance to unpack learnings and ideate around potential solutions.

By the end of the workshop, the client had scores of specific strategic ideas and macro-themes to guide development, but also so much more. The workshop experience helped the team internalize key takeaways, play around with insights, and think deeply about business implications. What’s more, the team came up with some winning ideas for addressing the issues uncovered by the research!

At the conclusion of the project, the client received a deck of prioritized strategy ideas, covering eight themes for optimization, as well as a refined brand vision to guide the team’s turn-around strategy.

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