AlpineAire

The air is thinner up here.

How does design thinking move a bottom-of-the-shelf, fourth place brand to achieve a ninety percent leap in sales, jump to the lead position on shelf and continue to gain more years into the future?

A couple years ago Capsule was approached by a Swiss brand, the Katadyn Group, after they had acquired two brands of freeze dried food. The brands, AlpineAire and Mountain High, both had a quality product inside the package but couldn’t get past third and fourth place behind sophisticated competitors.

The effort was to remove one brand and take the other one to higher ground, competitively. Conducting retail visits, interviewing shoppers and observing behaviors in this category led to a key insight. The food you eat after a long day of hiking is more about the journey versus the finished meal. This makes the decision making process in the aisle more about the calories, ingredients and other quantified information than the aesthetics of beautiful dish photography.

The design team then set about the task of designing concepts that would deliver on this insight. The more inspired our team is by what the brand is doing, the more concepts show up on our walls for public review. While we’re often scoped for three to five, this client inspired us to produce eleven concepts – put aside all the Spinal Tap reference – as the team was bursting with inspiration.

After a small hiccup in the middle, the decision was made to produce the concept you now see on shelf. This meant a pile of details had to be worked through, final packages produced, Amazon images taken and the other brand communications had to be updated to reflect this new direction. Then we waited anxiously to see the results.

Launch happens early summer; campers, hikers, outdoorsy folks take to the stores to find a meal for their next adventure. The results start to come in right around the first big trade show and our 6’4” burly, outdoor adventuring client is what we can precisely describe as giddy. Retail partners who had just six months ago rejected them were now interested. The European headquarters were asking how his team had achieved these numbers. The grin on his face never seemed to cease and we noticed a skip in his step as he moved from meeting to meeting at the show.

Design thinking turned a skeptical, stern client into a giddy thirteen year old.

If you’d like to see the other ten concepts or more on our design thinking methods, we’d be happy to share the story behind the story.

About The Author

Aaron Keller

I am an author, strategist, researcher, cyclist, reader and consummate entrepreneur. When an interesting idea crosses my path, I find any way we can bring it to life. Earning an MBA from the Carlson School and numerous valuable credits at the school of hard knocks, I’ll sit at a boardroom conversation with anyone. Want to talk business strategy, consumer behavior and design? Oh, it’s on.


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