Project Description

Our Client: Major Diet Manufacturer
The Industry: Nutritional Snacks
Our Tools: Stakeholder Interviews and Consumer Shop-Alongs

The Challenge

This major nutritional diet brand was mostly sold in the diet aisle of major food, drug, and mass merchandisers. To grow sales and share in the large and growing snack bar category, it was looking to significantly increase distribution of its bars beyond the diet aisle to the much higher traffic/volume cereal aisle. However, given how competitive this aisle of the store is and the higher hurdle rates demanded by retailers, the team needed to understand consumers who shop both aisles of the store, in order to put together a meaningful proposition and retailer story.

Client Objectives

  • To gain a deep understanding of the cereal aisle bar purchaser overall and relative to the diet aisle purchaser.
    • Why she is shopping and not shopping in each aisle of the store – benefits derived.  Specifically, understanding functionally what they are expecting from a taste, texture, appearance standpoint etc. and emotionally how eating bars from each makes them feel.
    • Who she is shopping for in each and the occasions of usage.
  • To understand what it would take for this diet bar brand to succeed in the cereal aisle (from the consumer’s and retailer’s perspective). 

Our Customized Approach

Retailer interviews were conducted to provide a real world view of objections and hurdles the brand would have to overcome. Importantly, these were conducted PRIOR to consumer interviews in order to adjust the discussion guide based on these insights.

Shop-alongs were conducted among 12 cereal aisle shoppers and 12 diet aisle shoppers. Rationale:

  • Allowed consumers to “shop as they would in the real world’.  Further, watching the decision-maker first-hand allowed the team to probe on the role of brand, price, health, flavor/taste, varieties, calories, etc.
  • Ability to compare the cereal aisle and diet aisle experience in-store versus by memory, which helped capture real perceptions.
  • Ability to go to multiple retailers that are of key importance to the brand.

Key Insights

Very different snack benefits and expectations from these two sections of the store.



The Results

  • In order to effectively compete in this aisle of the store, this very strong diet brand (in the eyes of the consumer and the retailer) would have to change their business model and product experience in a way that fits both the brand and the category.
  • Based on the size of the brand, its limited marketing budget, and the risk of diluting what the brand stands for, it was not recommended to pursue this expansion.
  • Rather, it was recommended that the brand give its package and product offering a face-lift, in order to improve the overly serious and medicinal diet aisle experience and enabling them to have a competitive advantage.