Branding & Communication

What can Stoov add to its marketing message for even more brand growth?

Scale-up company Stoov, as a market leader, wants to grow its brand awareness in the Netherlands, Germany and the rest of Europe. But to remain a leader in its category, it needs to further sharpen and deepen its brand strategy. How can Stoov best position itself in these countries? To discover this, a brand survey is indispensable.

But as a scale-up, can Stoov knock on the door of such a large market research firm as Blauw? Head of Brand & Communications Ilse van Loon dared to! What was the result? Read the interview with Ilse.


Stoov is a scale-up company that sells infrared heat pads to businesses as well as consumers. The company has grown like crazy in recent years. And if there is one thing that is important as a growing company, it is to strengthen your image and brand awareness. Marketing campaigns can contribute significantly to this. Ilse: "Last year we went on TV for the first time with a 5-second billboard. That was around the program Expedition Robinson. We first had this campaign tested at SPRINT (Blauw's agile label) so that we could be sure that the advertising would produce the desired results. And it did! Sales increased tremendously, thanks to a very simple and unambiguous message. But I realized that if we want to grow even further and remain the leader in our category, also in Germany, we need to add a distinctive hook to our marketing message."


How Brands Grow brand research

Maran of SPRINT suggested the idea of talking to a branding expert at Blauw. Ilse: "A year earlier I had already spoken with Blauw. Even then I had full confidence that Blauw strongly emphasizes Byron Sharp's How Brands Grow method in its brand research. This time, Wilco only had to utter three sentences before I was convinced that, as a scale-up, we were ready for such a large study. It also just sounded practical, which was exactly what we needed. We needed a lot of valuable insights that would allow us to immediately build a truly distinctive brand strategy. For example, we were very curious about Category Entry Points (CEPs), at what "moments" or "situations" we want consumers to think of Stoov. In doing so, and this was not entirely insignificant to us, we got a strong impression that we, as a fairly small company, would not be at the bottom of the priority list. In fact, we were aware that Blauw conducts surveys for large companies such as DPG Media or Rabobank. But we had a good feeling. And soon we noticed that, precisely as a scale-up company and with a small team, we could get a lot of valuable results from the research and the interim workshops."


Exploring the category

Blauw experts Wilco and Simone led the research. They kicked off with an exploratory community survey. Ilse: "We had discussed all the questions beforehand. But what I liked best was that during the community research we could watch live via a dashboard how the participants answered all the questions. This way we quickly got an idea of what drives, or actually stops, people from buying our heat pads. And which CEPs would possibly be important to capitalize on with our strategy. But we also discovered which brand associations spontaneously emerged in consumers, and to what extent they feel an emotional attachment to us. We saw, in short, that Simone and Wilco put Byron Sharp's theoretical brand philosophy into practice very nicely."

If Simone and Wilco thought the Stoov team was enthusiastic during the exploration phase, they had not yet experienced the team during the interim workshop. Ilse: "We were really eager for the first results. When we got our hands on them, we were already trying to draw all kinds of conclusions from them, and further write our brand strategy. On the one hand, the insights confirmed what we already suspected; on the other, they were confrontational. For example, we really had no idea that many consumers wonder how safe our products are. We know ourselves how our products are made and controlled. We know they are super safe. But after this we immediately paid attention to this in our webshop.

To gain insight into how the Stoov brand is perceived by German consumers, the archetype module was included. Each archetype has its own persona, based on universally recognizable stereotypes. Ilse: "We expected our archetype to be tough and rebellious, so a bit more on the extreme side within the archetype spectrum. But the research showed strongly that Stoov in particular is seen as the archetype of 'ordinary people.' That was surprising, but good to know. It gave even more direction. Now if we have an idea that leans toward the rebellious side, we actually dismiss it right away. Instead, we try to think more toward CEPs like 'enjoyment' and 'couching.'"


How does Ilse look back on the entire research process at Blauw? Ilse: "First of all, the process went very quickly, allowing us to move forward immediately. Wilco and Simone thought along at a strategic level and were flexible sparring partners. I think that was an advantage of being a scale-up company. As a small company you sometimes have a shortage of hands, in which case an external research agency like Blauw has to take over your work. Then you have to be able to blindly trust the knowledge and expertise of that agency. That trust was there, which was very nice.

Meanwhile, we were able to write a distinctive brand strategy. And we've even put an external creative agency to work to create a campaign that we're going to roll out in the Netherlands and Germany in 2023. And I can tell you, something cool is coming out of that! So I am confident that our brand awareness as well as sales will continue to grow substantially in the coming years."

"Soon we noticed that, precisely as a scale-up, we could get a lot of valuable results from the research."
Ilse van Loon
Head of Brand & Communications

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