Picture this: You walk into a conference session forty-five minutes before lunch, and in your seat you find a delicious smelling, bread stick flavored air freshener (yes, seriously). At this moment, I was quite confident I would be thinking more about lunch than the presentation. Much to my surprise, the session engaged and intrigued me and I left with an unexpected enthusiasm for an “old-school” research method.
We all return from conferences a little jazzed, enthusiastic and motivated. We have new tools and techniques to share with our colleagues and an appreciation for innovation in the category. However, one of the methodologies that stuck with me after the excitement fizzled away was a traditional qualitative technique Olive Garden used with its executive team. I learned about this approach in the “Olive Garden Brand Renaissance” session, under the innovation track. The session covered key strategies for influencing Brand Marketing and methodologies used to inspire Olive Garden repositioning. The approach was referred to as a “Customer Library.” Olive Garden’s CI team collected an impressive number of “stories” written by executives who conducted in-person interviews with Olive Garden customers. Additionally, the executive team read the stories their counterparts had written. I know, you must be thinking, “my CEO would never have time to do that,” but how amazing it is that Olive Garden’s executive team was so supportive of this repositioning mission, they were willing to immerse themselves in the research? Read More