Case Study

Fostering Creative Thinking in a Digital Space to Elicit Innovation


Consumers’ perceptions of health and wellness have dramatically shifted in the last 5-10 years. Food and beverage habits, in particular, seem to be constantly evolving as dietary/lifestyle options proliferate.

A global beverage company wanted to understand how these lifestyle/diet changes influence beverage behaviors, with the goal of wanting to revolutionize the beverage category for the future. 

C+R researchers developed a multi-phase qualitative approach to uncover beverage behaviors in-context and enlist consumers in envisioning future possibilities within the category. 


Looking for Inspiration – How to Stand-Out in a Crowded Marketplace

A major beverage company’s innovation department approached C+R Research for help in understanding consumers’ emotional and physical beverage needs states and gaps. The brand’s goal was to develop a new portfolio of beverage products that would entice and re-engage lapsed drinkers in their beverage category.

The company sought a comprehensive study of the category, including typical behaviors and attitudes towards specific beverage subcategories, as well as perceptions of new/trending beverage innovations or categories in the beverage space. The team was interested in learning how consumers select beverages in the moment to understand motivators/triggers for new trial opportunities.

In addition, the company was interested in learning creative ways to elicit outside-the-box beverage ideas from consumers themselves.


Immersion and Creative Ideation

To get a deep understanding of emotional and physical need states in the beverage category, our team developed a three-phase qualitative (HL: research approach. The study involved several immersion techniques including online immersion, digital mashups/co-creation, and in-person beverage immersions.

Our research began with a 3-week online immersion wherein consumers journaled their beverage occasions and documented their thoughts and perceptions via videos, photos, and creative exercises. Consumers also participated in a deprivation and inundation exercise to illuminate motivators and new trial barriers.

The online immersion was followed by a creative ideation session. In the first round, consumers participated in short “digital mash-ups,” reflecting on their beverage experiences from the past 3 weeks and participating in creative projective techniques to foster new/unique beverage concepts.

Lastly, C+R facilitated in-person beverage immersions with friend groups wherein participants were asked to bring unique ingredients to develop new beverage concepts. 

The result

Developing a Plan for Strategic Consumer-Centered Innovation

Through our research, the team discovered that consumers are interested in an elevated beverage experience, but according to participants, current offerings in the beverage landscape “all taste the same.” Additionally, consumers’ beverage choices are vast and directly influenced by mood and occasion.

Research also showed that consumers’ beverage philosophies shift based on life stage (age, having kids, etc.), and beverages are strategically chosen to meet lifestyle needs, including yearnings for a “healthier, happier me of the future.”

To help the client socialize findings and generate buy-in, all insights were highlighted via an interactive sizzle reel. The client paired C+R’s findings and consumer co-creation outputs with quantitative white space data to plan a strategy around its innovation opportunities. The client also developed specific demographic-centric solutions based on mood, occasion, and lifestyle needs to reach lapsed drinkers in a highly targeted way.

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