Humanization of pets has been a trend the pet food industry had been following and was intensified by the pandemic. Consumers were willing to pay more but the emergence of raw and human-grade foods were uncertain opportunities. In strategy, we call them “question-marks” in the portfolio of potential growth opportunities. It is important to stay in front of emerging trends and human-grade food was something several years earlier was studied but determined not to be an opportunity at the time. As we know in innovation, the past may not be a predictor of future opportunity and recent growth in the pet industry made looking at these emerging opportunities important. We were hired to conduct exploratory research using Valen’s proven sprint-based agile insight solution, Fusion MethodologyTM and further worked on strategy and partnerships for this opportunity. The objective was to determine if the entrance into a high-growth opportunity area in pet food was a potential alternate revenue stream and if we could find a unique and valuable position for the company to sustainably compete.
We started with a deep dive consumer journey leveraging empathetic discovery via a competitive analysis to determine viability. As outsiders, we could explore the opportunity space and provide unique perspective that helps to uncover possible interesting positioning that may lead to a valuable point of difference. We identified a premium opportunity space in pet food as viable to explore further. We uncovered our Inspirational Design Target, an ideal persona to utilize our proprietary sprint-based Fusion MethodologyTM to explore all aspects of the consumer journey and identify critical Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) and key tensions and unique behaviors and habits formed from early use and ongoing usage. During a sprint, the innovation team (Valen and Client team) was convinced of the opportunity and decided to do a “push” to focus efforts on identifying a partner, verifying costs and create a quick path to market. Valen led the partnership exploration process and identified an agile partner that enabled us to rapidly prototype products and compare them in a Fusion agile product testing sprint to determine winning formula. We validated a unique business model that positioned the company in a highly differentiated and ownable point of difference. We validated the positioning, messaging and other critical concept elements in a custom strategic quantitative research study that was foundational to final development and go-to-market strategy.
We identified a potential $1B white space opportunity through agile market learning. We utilized Valen’s Agile approach within sprints to identify a manufacturing partner, rapidly develop product, packaging design and point of difference. The result is a highly differentiated positioning in pet food industry that current competitors would have high difficulty in copying. With great execution, the client has the opportunity to thwart other new entrants and transform their portfolio through this innovation platform.