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Radically Transforming Insights: The Case of the Trojan Peas

December 10, 2020


Radically Transforming Insights: The Case of the Trojan Peas

We have more data than we can shake a stick at these days. We have web traffic data, information on consumer purchasing habits, customers’ social media profiles. We have their search history. We also have more ways to get in touch with our customers and conduct more qualitative research. We can collect data points in open-ended responses and analyzing them for similarities, trends, and more.

The question at the end of all of this, for most Marketers, is often “so what?” We have tons of data and insights, but we can become paralyzed by it. What do we even do with all this information?

That’s where we need to put on our thinking caps and get outside our boxes. With data in hand we can radically rethink what we’re doing.

Haagen-Dazs and the Trojan Pea Plan

Let’s look at this in action first. I love this example from ice cream brand Haagen-Dazs. They took an interesting data point and came up with a marketing move that was disruptive, inventive and (she says laughing) provides new permission to enjoy your favorite hidden indulgence. (peanut butter & chocolate is my personal ….addiction) 😊

They discovered that almost half of Australians say they hide treats so a family member doesn’t eat them. We’ve all been there and experienced that pain. You’ve had a rough day, but you know you have that ice cream or that chocolate bar or whatever. That’s going to emotionally pull you through.

And then you get there and someone else—maybe your partner, maybe your kids—have eaten it.

Parents might hide treats from their kids to help limit their intake of unhealthy foods. In other cases, we don’t want to share our treats! We definitely don’t want someone else to get there first.

That’s an interesting data point. The question is what do you do with this information? Is this insight big enough, sticky enough and if brought to life…..will it acknowledge and provide permission to have fun with simply shopping to treat yourself?

Haagen-Dazs took that insight as a general truth and a kind of funny one, in a way. And they offered their customers a new way to keep their treats safe from raiders. They offered an empty plastic bag that would disguise your delicious treat as frozen peas.

It’s the perfect deception! Stick your ice cream in the pea bag, and your kids or your partner won’t even look at it!

A Little Light-Hearted Humour

The other thing here is that the Haagen-Dazs team gave themselves license to have a little fun. Is treat-stealing a serious issue? Not really, although it happens enough to be annoying!

And likely through consumer feedback of how to protect your Haagen-Dazs – there was likely tactics exactly like this used.  So Haagen-Dazs is providing an “official" version of the disguise people were using anyway.

It’s fun, clever, and a little funny too. It’s a perfect move for the Internet age, where influencers can share pictures, videos, and stories. They can also encourage others to share their experiences.

Hand in Hand with the Brand’s Core

The core of the Haagen-Dazs brand is that people are deserving of a treat. The brand messaging focuses on treating or rewarding yourself. “You’ve earned it” is the sentiment behind much of their marketing. You deserve this rich indulgence, this luxurious treat.

So the idea of providing a way to protect your treat—which you more than deserve, by the way—makes perfect sense. It also suggests a way of carving out time for yourself, to relax and indulge your senses.

The desire to protect this kind of precious and fleeting moment only makes sense. It’s important to treat yourself every now and then, and you deserve it. So providing camouflage to ward off would-be treat thieves is in line with the Haagen-Dazs brand.

And the strategy supports both the brand essence and the fact that Haagen-Dazs positions itself as a luxury brand of ice cream. This is the expensive stuff that you buy yourself as a treat or a reward because you earned it. This is ice cream you savour when you’re alone; it’s an indulgence, decadence.

That higher-end positioning makes the brand into something worth protecting. Much like you’d want to hide your gold from Robin Hood-style bandits in the past, you want to hide your Haagen-Dazs treats from the treat thieves that live in your house.

The message here is clear. This is a decadent treat that needs to be protected.

Transforming Insights into Action

Not every insight will transform itself into such a fun or clever idea. But this kind of thinking shows what we can and should strive to do with our data.

We can always ask what a certain data point means to our customers. Australians felt “treat theft” was a common problem. Some of them may have even gone to great lengths on their own to prevent it.

So Haagen-Dazs saw this “problem” and solved it in a fun way. Other brands may find their customers have problems they feel are quite serious, which the brand is positioned to solve. You may not want to offer a “fun” solution for some of them though. A creative, out-of-the-box solution could still impress and delight your customers.

Finding those solutions takes some creative thinking. It forces us to think about changing behaviours and how we can help shift those behaviours. If customers are already hiding their treats, then offering them a built-in way to do it is just capitalizing on a change they’ve already made. The same is true with advertising diamond rings for the right hand.

We can also look to shift behaviour ourselves. If our customers are worried about something, we can give them solutions.

What we need to remember here is our brand’s core. The Haagen-Dazs example is a little bit quirky and fun, but it still strikes at the core of the brand’s essence. Any solutions we come up with, any transformative thinking we do, must be informed by that.

So, like always—start with the why!


Here to inspire!

I am a business person who has excelled in driving a competitive edge through marketing, strategy, innovation, building irresistible brands and unlocking the genius that exists. I am writing is inspire or create new consideration. If you have ideas or questions that you would like me to put a pen too, I would be delighted.

I would also be grateful if you shared this or any of the articles I have written to inspire others.

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