Strategic Consulting

Helping a Category De-Risk DTC Exploration

Mars Petcare

As an industry leader, Mars Petcare was feeling the pressure from startups to stay relevant and disrupt the industry before getting disrupted. Mars wanted to explore what was possible in the world of DTC without risking the learning pains with its established, well-loved brands.

Understanding the Buyer’s Journey and Pain Points

We focused on the entire buyers’ journey throughout the lifespan of their dog. We identified dozens of pain points and narrowed in on the ones that were most likely to cause a consumer to switch pet food brands.

Leveraging Owned Assets for a  Competitive Advantage

We had millions of Mars’ data points from sources  like Waltham and Wisdom Panel to help inform our solution. With this information, we got to work  prototyping solutions that addressed each of the pain points below, testing everything with our target audience. Tested features included everything from text-based subscription management and convenient packaging to age-based suggestions and food-finder quizzes.

With all that we learned, we invented CLIFFORD,  a DTC brand that answered the question: What can Mars Petcare do that Amazon and startups cannot?

7 Key Pain Points

Solving Pain Points to Mitigate Customer Turnover

Here’s an overview of the insights and features that made CLIFFORD unique:

Intelligently-Customized Dog Food

During testing, consumers responded favorably to a quiz during the buying process, but the level of input needed to be intentional—an experience that asks too many questions will be abandoned and one that doesn’t ask enough won’t feel personalized.

  • How we did this: Prototyping allowed us to dial in on the quiz length, and Mars’ resources, data, and machine learning meant CLIFFORD could customize dog food more intelligently than its competitors
Curated Quiz for Custom Solutions

Frictionless, Personality-Filled Interactions Via Text

We discovered pet owners love the idea of managing shipping and deliveries via text—both getting reminders and having the ability to text proactively—as long as it doesn’t feel like they’re talking to a chatbot.

  • How we did this: We leveraged AI technology to answer consumers’ questions in natural language, responding in a conversational tone and even sending gifs.

AI-powered text-based solution featuring real language and gifs

Lifetime Pet-Parent Partnership

Many pet parents switch brands during stressful moments or key stages in a dog’s life cycle. However, we learned that if a pet food brand brought the consumer along in the associated changes to their dog’s diet at these moments, it would boost brand affinity and retention.

  • How we did this: Using the data shared by consumers in addition to Mars’ data ecosystem, CLIFFORD proactively reaches out as a puppy hits milestones and will also check in about allergies and weight gain based on the breed information.
Mars' Data Ecosystem

By the Numbers

Mars Petcare
Strategic Consulting
Consumer Packaged Goods

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