top of page
  • Writer's pictureBruce Crandall

Off-the-shelf solutions are a little cheaper, but likely won’t provide value—or the best direction

We recently completed brand-architecture research for a tea client in the Northwest, USA. The company had previously conducted a little customer research over the years, but not enough to understand its own identity or how consumers perceived it or the tea category. Corporate strategy had largely been based on hypotheses and intuition. They turned to Mobile Digital Insights (MDI) for help with a solid strategic study to provide the guidance they needed.

We recently caught up with Darren Marshall, CEO of Smith Teamaker, to learn how they are using the strategic brand study we did for them. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation.

Why did you commission this research?

I came here at the end of 2017 from a big company background that was rooted in data. Now I work in a small company environment and wanted to bring some of that here. I don’t want to build strategy based on the seat of our pants but use facts to help us make strategic decisions. We’re a private-equity-backed company with investors focused on numbers, so being able to bring them along with facts allows us to share things in a way that we can get buy-in.

What did you hope to achieve?

We only had hypotheses, but when you see data, that helps us set priorities in a rational, objective way. I’d hoped to get data that made sense. What we got from MDI was great. The research was savvy, smart, accessible, and not expensive. In fact, I had looked around at some other popular survey tools and providers before we met with you. What I found was that for similar money, MDI was more customizable than off-the-shelf propositions (which are scalable for those companies, but too limiting for us). We got great analytics and insights that we could trust, and best of all, for a very good value (which is key, being a company of our size).

What surprises came from the data, if any?

For one thing, our company tends to think of itself as a big deal, especially in our home region. The surprise for us was that our awareness was a lot lower than we thought, which has helped us to prioritize our channel and region growth opportunities.
Another thing that came out was how important “wellness” was to our core consumer. “Taste” has been our primary focus and wellness was an undeveloped area for us (but very important to our customers, as we discovered). With this data, we’ve been able to optimize our new product pipeline to optimize growth.

What’s the biggest benefit that has come from the research?

As mentioned, we started out with only hypotheses about the direction of our company. But what the research allowed us to do was put facts against hypotheses and prioritize our actions, particularly during a very changing (and challenging) economic environment right now. Being able to get facts fast was super helpful and it’s allowing us to be agile. In fact, the research fielded much faster and easier than we thought it might be. We’d love to trend some of this and track it over time now.


Getting superior, value-driven research doesn’t have to come from off-the-shelf products. Custom research can provide better value. Thoughtful design and backend analytics will offer clearer, more strategic, and more profitable direction than cookie-cutter solutions.

About MDI

We’re all about you… Strategic. Fast. Value-driven. Clear. In the moment. Experienced. Resourceful. Confident. And of course, Mobile. We love collaborating, always keeping you top of mind. That’s why we’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest companies in over 40 countries—and right in your own neighborhood.


Please send inquiries about this post to

33 views0 comments


bottom of page