U.S. consumers had outdated perceptions of steel and the steel industry.
Public perceptions were starting to have a negative impact in the marketplace. Manufacturers were de-emphasizing steel in favor of materials such as plastic and aluminum.
We were brought in to create a values-based positioning for the industry: “The New Steel: Feel the Strength”
Develop a PULL strategy for communications and advertising—make people want and ask for steel.
Focus on steel’s benefits of strength and safety; educate about the modernization of the steel industry; overcome environmental concerns with little-known facts about steel’s recyclability.
Over the first 18 months of the campaign, Americans’ average favorability toward steel as a material improved dramatically.
Among those who had heard or read recently about steel, positive mentions soared from 24% to 70%, while negative mentions fell from 37% to just 5% over the same period.
More Americans viewed steel as part of the environmental solution rather than the problem, and steel was named most often as “the material of the future.”
Encouraged by increased consumer demand, manufacturers returned to emphasizing the strength of steel as a selling point in consumer durable goods.
AISI: The New Steel
Achieve a public policy environment that is more favorable to the steel industry in DC and select international cities, by:
Improving the substance of what is being seen and heard about the steel industry
Building awareness among policymakers of steel’s environmental profile, particularly its leadership in recycling
Shifting policymakers’ perceptions of the steel industry from
Positive to negative ratio of “heard recently about the steel industry” improved +40%
The perception that the steel industry is modern, hi-tech, clean and globally competitive improved +14%
On the question of global competitiveness, there has been a significant shift away from the perception that steel is part of the problem, and toward seeing steel as part of the solution by +24%
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1126, which reauthorizes the Metals Initiative
Secured a boost of nearly $2.1 million (to $3.7 million overall) for the ITP-Steel program
New provisions in the Farm Bill, for which the industry has been lobbying, are expected to favor canned foods (an important steel market), because of their nutritional value and safety.
American Plastics Council: Plastics Make It Possible
Due to strong environmental activism in the early 90’s, the image of the plastics industry lagged behind competing materials by at least 15 points.
250 laws introduced at state and local levels to ban or limit plastics.
Americans were beginning to deselect plastic in their daily consumer choices (“Would you like paper or plastic?”)
After substantial efforts to combat negative perceptions had failed, the American Plastics Council called on us for help.
Rather than combat environmental concerns head on, remind people of the medical, health and safety benefits of plastics in their everyday lives: “Plastics make it possible.”
Tracking research showed a complete reversal on the question, “Do the benefits of plastic outweigh the risks of plastic, or do the risks of plastic outweigh its benefits?” to where more people felt benefits outweigh risks.
The number of Americans believing “plastics harm the environment” and “I should avoid buying products packaged in plastic” declined significantly
The plastic industry’s overall favorability rose from 52 to 65.
Within 3 years, punitive legislation was nearly gone from national and state legislatures.
Among grocery shoppers today, plastic bags are preferred over paper bags by a margin of ten to one.
LVCVA: Alibi Campaign
Destination marketing of Las Vegas as a brand, as epitomized by “What happens here stays here” campaign, has had great success in increasing visitation.
LVCVA desired a more long-term, overarching positioning that would appeal to an even broader audience.
Research found that potential visitors lack knowledge of the full range of what Las Vegas has to offer beyond gaming.
We helped the ad agency frame a campaign that would complement the brand message, while at the same time educate consumers about the “products” Vegas has to offer.
We developed the Las Vegas IQ, an index to track understanding of LV offerings in target markets, and the Las Vegas Alibi campaign.
As a result of the Alibi campaign, IQ scores increased in expansion markets, likelihood to visit went up, and favorability of the destination increased.
Website traffic and hotel bookings increased 60% in the month following the launch of the campaign.
Visitor volume increased 3.2%, equal to about 1.25 million additional visitors, during the first year of the campaign.
The campaign drove recognition of Las Vegas as a top shopping and dining destination, with valuable earned media coverage in the nation’s top fashion and dining magazines.
Current economic weakness has impacted Las Vegas tourism, but guided by our research, the client is continuing to advertise, confident that its strong brand will draw visitors to return when the time is right.
Milk PEP: got milk?
In 1990,Congress approved the milk check-off program to promote the consumption of milk
“Milk mustache” awareness print advertising campaign started in 1995
Despite $100 million annual operating budget and a popular and highly salient campaign, milk consumption continued its 30 year decline
Based on expert recommendation and knowledge of other successful industry programs, the Milk Processor Education Program asked us to explore a revised positioning that could clearly identify and articulate messages to motivate consumers to drink more milk
Attitudinal change (Tracking)
Recall of the link between milk and weight loss among adult women nearly doubled, from 41% in 2004 to 78% in 2006
In 2006, 47% of women agreed that milk can be an important part of a weight loss diet, compared to 24% in 2004
Behavioral change (Market data)
Weekly consumption among the weight loss campaign target group, women age 25-49, rose 9.4% from 2004 to 2005.
Tracking research discovered that the reasons women drank more milk were primarily “trying to lose weight” and “trying to be healthier”
According to market mix modeling, while messages in a variety of media contributed to the success of the weight loss campaign, the television advertising generated the steepest increase in sales volume
Chili’s: “I Want My Baby Back Ribs”
Background + Diagnosis
After years of strong growth, Chili’s Grill & Bar, began experiencing declines.
In late 2005, with declines projected to reach a negative 1.1 percent in same store sales by late 2006, Chili’s engaged a multi-firm team led by its advertising agency, GSD&M, to diagnose the problem and set a new course for the brand.
While at Harris Interactive, we were part of the team, advising and having involvement in the conduct of qualitative research and leading the quantitative research and analytics efforts.
The team concluded that the problem was due to (1) lack of differentiation from other casual dining restaurants, (2) lack of focus with too diffuse of an offering, and (3) lack of relevance with modern customers.
As a result, the team set out to (1) focus the brand, (2) find a point of differentiation, and (3) understand decision making and drive relevance.
Recommendations + Results
Better understanding of 18-34 year old cohort decision making for CDRs, including triggers, consideration (getting on short-listing, filtering) negotiation (road blocks & trump cards, fighting to win) and choice (visitation). Six occasions accounted for 40 per cent of the business and four of these were times when this group dined without their children.
Through segmentation we understood this age group was driven by a more emotional need state, “Reward Me,” characterized by an uplifting experience and there were opportunities to engage them in fresh and creative ways through specific channels.
Versus the competition, Chili’s was uniquely positioned to do this, based on the target audience’s belief that Chili’s could “spice up their lives.” Spicealicious was born.
Finally, extensive quantitative research and advanced analytics suggested which messages and media could best create relevance among 18-34 year olds.
Based on the Baby Back Road Trip promotion that followed, Chili’s led the category for 5 of 6 weeks of the promotion, increasing traffic 2.9 percent.
Other Case Studies
AARP: American Values
AARP sought to update their value proposition to better strategically align their portfolio of offerings with the needs and wants of Americans
It was important from AARP's perspective that this value proposition be derived from American and member insights and desires rather than driven by the organization's own internal perception of what was like to resonate with members.
This required building on the existing body of knowledge among members using a Values research framework.
We conducted a a comprehensive multi-stage research program including several different research tools across quantitative and qualitative approaches (including values research and mapping and advanced analytics and segmentation analysis) to understand and validate the needs, wants, priorities and desires of Americans 50+.
Heart+Mind Strategies mapped the values and priorities of Americans 50+ providing the foundation for an overall integrated value proposition that could also be customized and targeted to key segments.
Mapping areas that are most effective at providing the rational and emotional benefits most important to Americans 50+ against existing AARP resources and equities generated the insight to create a consumer driven, integrated value proposition which could be supported by specific offerings from the organization’s core portfolios.
Our research identified a new and primary values priority that had not previously been tapped, providing powerful relevance and appeal for the brand and its portfolio of products.
This new understanding created a cascade of changes in the internal portfolio structure as well as how the portfolio of offerings are positioned and advertised externally.
National Association of Home Builders
Background + Objectives
Home building and lending practices were at the heart of America’s economic downturn.
By 2010, proposed legislation, regulation, and reformulation of traditional homeownership GSE’s and lending practices would have radically changed the landscape of home ownership, creating a cascade of consequences in the hopes and financial security of millions of Americans.
NAHB sought to identify the right communications and messaging strategy to bring attention and support to address these threats and protect housing affordability.
Heart+Mind Strategies built a values-based message architecture leveraging the values and priorities of Americans as they relate to the proposed home ownership policy, regulatory, and lending reforms.
Despite learning that most Americans believe homeownership policy changes are needed—even if it makes homeownership harder to obtain—we developed a values-based communications strategy proven to create significant shift in public attitudes.
Messaging architecture and narrative recommendations served as guiding principles for Congressional testimony.
Marketing and sales materials were updated to reflect the new strategy (including visual components) in addition to other public and government relations communications materials.
We deployed a communications strategy implementation road show in tandem with NAHB national and regional conferences and media training events across the country to educate members (at all levels) on the proven communications strategy elements including: message architecture, messages, legislative/issue priorities, political party nuances, and communication opportunity assessment criterion.
The San Diego Foundation: Our Greater San Diego Vision
The San Diego region is projected to grow by more than 40% by 2050. Keeping true to a legacy of planning and visioning dating back to the early 1900s, the San Diego region sought to plan for future growth.
In 2008, The San Diego Foundation began engaging residents region-wide in an unprecedented envisioning of their shared future. That effort evolved into Our Greater San Diego Vision.
As part of a larger team, Heart+Mind Strategies conducted multiple values-based quantitative and qualitative studies among regional residents and leadership to aid in all phases of the visioning process:
Preparation and values exploration
Public engagement messaging
Our expertise in values research specific to the regional visioning process laid the foundation for engaging and illuminating the hopes and dreams of San Diegans for their future.
This values analysis was used throughout the visioning process to structure focus areas (and corresponding task forces), to define choices presented to the public, and ultimately, to provide a framework for the Vision.
Heart+Mind Strategies developed the innovative choosing platform for San Diegans to “Show Your Love” resulting in the highest level of public participation in regional visioning anywhere in the country with more than 30,000 participants.
Our research was prominently featured in several print, online, and local TV media outlets across the San Diego region.