Impact by the Numbers

A leading global product manufacturer found itself treading water as a tidal wave of new competitors—digital upstarts with deep pockets and low overhead—surfaced all at once, winning new consumers and accolades from mainstream media.


Market disruption is an understatement; these emerging players flipped the traditional model on its head, introducing a whole new way of shopping. Had the company not taken bold moves when it did, guided by ZS, it risked the fate of other once-great brands that floundered due to “Uber-ization” of a product category.

The challenge

Solidly positioned as a trusted brand in a highly consolidated industry reliant on brick-and-mortar retailers, ZS’s client lacked understanding of shoppers’ evolving preferences and fast-shifting market dynamics. Without visibility to what influences purchasing decisions, the brand missed opportunities to fully exploit all selling channels, particularly brick-and-mortar retailing where its advantages eclipsed pure-play disruptor brands.


Because external threats, margin pressures and its own strengths and weaknesses were not understood, the brand was ill-equipped to craft a long-term strategy. Market share leadership eroded as a result. The brand needed to evolve overall marketing (direct and in conjunction with retail partners) along with its product portfolio go-to-market approach —from brand-first to a consumer-centric strategy.

The solution

The manufacturer engaged ZS as its dedicated consumer insights and analytics team and partner in transformation to a culture that prioritizes data-driven decision-making.


ZS brought unprecedented rigor to consumer research and analytics to inform strategy and execution across numerous business areas. The ongoing collaboration with ZS empowered the brand to engage with consumers across all channels, before and after purchase, in ways they had never done before.


This multi-year partnership transformed the company from one that knew little about shoppers to a market leader that puts consumers at the center of virtually every decision. A new proactive go-to-market strategy replaced the previous “What’s on fire, now?” mindset.


ZS established a data insights ecosystem that reveals threats to address while highlighting new opportunities across marketing, omnichannel consumer engagement, brand and product development, retail operations, trade advertising and more. Highlights:

  • New growth strategy: ZS developed a deeper understanding of the needs, attitudes and behaviors that drive consumer decision-making in the category. This new intelligence, along with competitive metrics and a map of the shoppers’ decision journey fed a data-driven ecosystem the brand relied upon to sharpen messaging and enhance its offer strategy.
  • Refined, streamlined, stronger portfolio: With the optimum consumer now clearly defined, ZS’s client revamped its portfolio with confidence to align with that target. For example, the brand was able to launch a new value tier product with optimized features and functions that prevented down-selling consumers, moves that mitigated cannibalization risk and improved profit margins.
  • Optimized distribution: ZS tracked and analyzed retailer performance to identify new prospects that hadn’t been considered before but would make solid partners and drive profitability. To reinforce relationships with most-valued partners, the brand developed a unique retailer support program coveted by other players eager for insights and interactive training they could not obtain elsewhere, least of all from anti-establishment digital upstarts.

The impact

The framework ZS built to understand consumers through all stages of their purchasing journey represented a turning point in how its client thought about the category and shoppers. New intelligence proved that some long-held beliefs were no longer valid. The client solidified its market leadership position with profits growing 10%, EBITDA growing 50%, and sales via new direct channels growing by 60%.


The customer insights ecosystem ZS created and continues to refine today forms the foundation on which business decisions are made with assurance and certainty that emboldens both the client and its retail partners.