The vanilla pod and the lightbulb moment – learning to trust your instinct

The vanilla pod and the lightbulb moment – learning to trust your instinct

Patrick Venning, now Marketing Director at Pernod Ricard is a man who like many of us has learnt his lessons sometimes the hard way. He recently told the story of one such lesson.

It was the late 1990s and Patrick was marketing manager for Birds Eye Walls business working on their flagship Magnum brand.

The original Magnums had been sold in Europe since 1987, but their success had prompted many competitors to follow them into the large chocolate covered ice cream block on a stick.

Patrick and his team were therefore looking for ways of improving perceptions of quality and greater more differentiation versus the competition.

Someone in the team, who had seen it elsewhere, suggested the idea of putting little flecks of vanilla seeds into the ice cream and despite some instinctive and immediate reservations Patrick approved the introduction of them into the ice cream.

“We relied exclusively on data that suggested there was a high level of awareness that these little black specs were a premium ingredient”

However the results weren’t what Patrick and the team were hoping for “(We) were hit with a huge backlash from consumers, because they simply didn’t know what it was as we hadn’t communicated it.”

Looking back he told Marketing Week that it was a revelatory moment “The lightbulb moment for me was that research data is just one part of the decision making process, and gut feel, judgement and experience should never be ignored.”

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