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The Marketing Hits’ Formula

Success has its tools

Applying the Marketing Hits’ Formula requires certain tools. A major one is the Fore-Search consumer research method which I will describe briefly later on. First, this method enables both the precise identification of the components of the "format that has been proven successful in the past" mentioned above. Then, it enables the pre-detection of elements that will be perceived by target consumers as being Cool, WOW or a Twist.

The hit development process includes the following four stages:

1. The first stage consists of choosing the appropriate timing for launching the hit. There are three major types that constitute the ‘right time’:

·   The first is a ripe replacement cycle, i.e. a widespread feeling amongst the target group that the current hit brand has lost its newness and intensity of appeal.
·   The second is seasonality, which is relevant for certain categories from children’s toys to beachwear.
·   The third is "situational timing", that results from a change in circumstances, market and competition dynamics or consumer trends.

1. The second stage involves scanning for hit opportunities, mapping them, then methodically evaluating them. To this end, my partners and myself use a system called "O-Scan (Opportunity Scan)" which enables conducting a methodical and comprehensive search in six directions considered to be the most fruitful – based on our extensive experience:

·   Consumer research focused on identifying potential future consumer desires (totally unimagined by them at present). We use a combination of several methods including trend analysis, cool hunting, Consumption Leaders’ Research (consumption leaders must be distinguished from "innovators" and "early adopters"), scenarios and simulations and mainly our Fore Search qualitative research method that allows diagnosis and reverse analysis of current wants in order to gain insight into potential ones. Using these methods we follow the process of hits’ succession, we look for evolving tastes and preferences as well as for emerging new social groups and market segments.
·   Competition analysis for identifying blind spots and competitor weaknesses (even momentary) and for pinpointing ready to be broken implicit rules of the game – that create opportunities.
·   Search for underexploited "treasures" within the company. For example: infrastructure, technological capabilities, expertise, social/business network connections etc’, that can serve as the basis for future opportunity.
·   Examination of the brand and brand architecture in order to scrutinize the options to launch the hit as a ‘stand alone’ brand, a ‘series’ brand, a foreground brand with an established long-term background brand or as a ‘satellite’ to a long term ‘star’ brand.
·   A worldwide search for relevant successful models (even in other categories) that can be adapted and applied or at least serve as inspiration.
·   Inventive thinking sessions methodically applied for generating possibilities that create opportunities.

2. Developing a concept surrounding the new hit based on the Marketing Hits’ Formula described earlier. The concept must pass three complementing tests: the profitable business model test, the competitive advantage test, and the attractive brand-ability test.
3. Developing a launching plan based on the use of all the tools included in the Short-Term Brands armory.

We put the Marketing Hits’ Formula to practice during the last half of 2004 and have already gained experience in such diverse categories as pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, food products and TV shows. Let me provide you with a recent example. A few months back we utilized the formula to assist an Eastern European client in developing a new female contraceptive product. This in-uterus device releases progesterone at a low dose and is effective throughout a full menstrual cycle. During our work together, the client’s marketing team came to realize that they may be manufacturing a medical product but their customer is actually purchasing a product that directly influences her sexual pleasure. The new product may propose some decrease in side effects compared to previous products however, we had made a decision to concentrate on developing the product as a marketing hit that crosses into sex life improvement accessories. The viral component chosen here was a multi-color, glow-in–the-dark feature. In addition, the device’s package would include (in addition to the necessary components required according to health regulations) Kama Sutra style cards depicting pleasurable sexual positions. The product launch is expected in the near future, and if I were to base my hunch on the extensive research findings from a comprehensive market study – we have a sure hit on our hands.

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Dan Herman, PhD, is a co-CEO of
"Unfair Advantage" – a strategy consulting and branding firm.
To find out more, visit his web site: .


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