It's never too late to transform

Re-imagining a brand and, in the process, transforming a 55-year-long business model into a customer centric machine.

Setting the Scene.

For over 50 years, Calico Cottage had developed an impressive reputation as a premium provider of turnkey fudge retail programs to a wide variety of retailers both domestically and abroad.  While Calico’s brand had become synonymous with excellence in the minds of its best customers, leadership believed there was more opportunity to expand Calico's reach.

Retailers have never had it easy.  During times of economic hardship retail is the first to suffer and typically the last to recover.  While fierce competition is nothing new to retailers, a steady migration of in-store foot traffic by increasingly fickle consumers to online shopping has some retailers facing their mortality for the first time.

For Mark Wurzel, the CEO of Calico Cottage, the battle between brick and mortar retail and online shopping for the consumer's wallet share presented an opportunity for Calico Cottage.  For years Calico had helped retailers of all kinds attract more new customers, increase visits and time in store through it's turn-key private label fudge programs.  With retailers forced to reasses every aspect of their in store experience, Calico was well positioned to provide an engaging alternative to the "same old" merchandise assortment.

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What the Client Thought They Needed.

Sensing the opportunity at hand, Calico Cottage made the strategic decision to invest in modernizing it's digital presence.  An ardent believer in the power of technology to enable success, Calico set clear priorities for the new website:

  • Serve as a utility for existing customers to make the most out of their partnership with Calico Cottage through a helpful, intuitive, easy to use Customer Portal experience.
  • Serve as a source of inspiration for customers who want to "WOW" their consumers by showcasing innovative recipes and products that would drive word of mouth traffic at retail.
  • An educational resource for new potential customers that are researching for ways to transform their own retail environments into consumer friendly destinations. 
  • To explore the positive effects fudge has on people and families along with the impact it can have on metrics retailers unilaterally covet.  
  • An enabler for the talented staff at Calico Cottage in support of ongoing efforts to create a superior experience for customers.  

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It Began with the Customer.

Conduit began the planning phase by engaging in a comprehensive "Voice of Customer Experience" study by engaging with a cross section of Calico's customers across multiple segments of retail.

The Voice of Customer Experience process revealed a key disconnect: 

  • There was a wide ranging perception of the value "vendor partners" provided 
  • The perception was most closely attributed to the retail segment the retailer operated within

With a legacy built on great service and superior private label retail programs featuring products that had an indeniable impact on consumers, the mission was clear: 

  • Retailers are searching for products and programs that will better resonate with consumers in order to compete. 
  • In a sea of vendors, Calico Cottage was one of the rare partners that can help retailers win the battle over consumer wallet share. 
  • Calico's bright future began with bridging the gap in perception of what was possible with a partner like Calico Cottage. 
  • This would mean making it easy for retailers to associate Calico Cottage as a vendor, it's programs and it's products as valuable tools to stem the loss of it's customers to eRetailers.

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What the Client Actually Needed.

For over 50 years, Calico Cottage considered itself a valued partner to all businesses they served.  Armed with the new understanding that "value"  was purely in the eye of the retailer and the business enviornment, retail setting and other dynamics heavily shaped that perception, Calico could no longer treat "retail" monolithically.

Instead, they would need to dive deeper and understand how the global macro trends at retail resonated with it's different flavors of retail customers to connect the need at retailers with Calico Cottage's capabilities.

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Section 1

A Clear Path Forward.

Calico Cottage was correct in that a revamped digital presence was crucial to their sustained success as a partner to retailers.  However, Calico's customers revealed that "true success" was not possible unless Calico redefined how they approached each of their primary retail segments as a whole. 

To be successful, Calico would need to

  • Link the value they provided as a holistic solution to solve the problems these retailers face- on a segment by segment basis; having that remain consistent in all mediums Calico operated within.
  • Ensure that every aspect of their business model embodied the nuanced customer centricity that their retailers now demanded.

Conduit Innovation & Calico Cottage deployed a multipronged approach:

  • A realignment of the current marketing strategy towards a solution centric approach, with variants of that approach for each retail segment of focus.
  • An impact analysis and recommended modifications to current processes designed to provide value for Calico's customers. 
  • Enhancing Calico's data model to propel the busines forward by empowering the people at Calico who touch the customer.
  • Automate the processes and data needs associated with Calico's redefined strategic approach.
  • Putting the systems and tools in place to indoctrinate current and future associates into Calico's retail segment/retailer/consumer culture.
  • Redefining the Calico Cottage digital experience to contextually align with all stages of consideration for the markets they serve.
  • A new content and media strategy that ensures maximum engagement when framing what makes Calico a preferred partner against the backdrop of the industries they operate within.
Section 2

After 58 Years it’s Back to Square One.

With a CEO who has forgotten more than most will ever learn about fudge and company with hundreds of years of combined retail knowledge, Calico's people are one of it's many advantages over it's competitors.

Conduit's task was to enable that knowledge to be channeled into specific retail applications and use cases for Calico’s Programs based on business needs at retail.

Once completed, we would then take it a step further by connecting the utility of how Calico's knowledge and Programs can drive exponential success at retail, when properly implemented.

As counter intuitive as it may seem for a company with Calico's longevity, making it easy for people to appreciate Calico as a trusted partner, the programs they provide to retailers and the high quality product behind those programs meant starting mentally at square one to realign it's focus.

During this process, Conduit Innovation worked closely with Calico Cottage to:

  • Re-establish present day business vision and priorities for the company
  • Align those present day priorities with a cohesive ongoing strategic vision
  • Extrapolate the vision into a comprehensive roadmap meant to operationalize the “New Calico Cottage” as a Retail Segment/Retailer/Consumer centric builder of businesses through innovative retail programs.

Manufacturing Opportunity for Consensus

When designed and built correctly, a company’s website is the single best salesperson a company has.  It consistently says the right things, to the right people, and it considers their specific wants, needs and fears.

Superior digital properties should provide value to both sides of the Customer Acquisition/Customer Retention hourglass.

While most companys build websites to better serve the sales funnel, the clients of Conduit Innovation engineer websites to add 360-degree value to the entire organization.

Conduit worked with Calico Cottage to properly segment, stratify, assign core business impact attributes to the wide range of Customers Calico Cottage serves.

Once completed, Conduit coordinated with the Executive and Marketing teams at Calico to broker Organizational Alignment once the high-level brand strategy was completed.   With an enhanced view of Calico's customers in place, logic for a preliminary website structure, content strategy and associated workflows became clear.

Conduit Works on the Business So Others Can Work in the Business.

Having segmented its customers based on a series of specific business, market, consumer and retail environmental factors; Conduit Innovation moved to direct a series of targeted Market Research initiatives to frame an accurate business context for the upcoming Content Strategy.

Much like all companies, the day to day demands of “business” were a perpetual undermining factor when it came to the team at Calico having the bandwidth to work "on the business" while in the business. Recognizing this, Conduit became an extension of Calico Cottage in pursuit of strategic initiatives.

During it's engagement, Conduit provided turnkey sourcing, negotiation and oversight of all external resources required to successfully move the project forward.  This included but was not limited to Subject Matter Experts, Digital and Media Implementation Partners and Technical Enablement Resources.

Section 5

Reinventing Calico Cottage as a Brand.

Over a period of the several months Conduit Innovation worked closely with the leadership at Calico Cottage to complete the necessary pre-requisites to crystalize the digital strategy:

  • Further segmenting Calico Cottage's customers and refining the customer data model
  • Assigning each segment an associated voice and tone
  • Understood how segments behave as it relates to Calico’s Programs
  • Explored the retail environments they operate on a day to day basis
  • Appended this research to the internal tribal knowledge gained through ongoing interviews with stakeholders within Calico itself

The result positioned Calico as a partner that retailers can count on to give Consumers:

A Reason to Come to their Store,
A Reason to Stay Longer,
and A Reason to Keep Coming Back.

In accordance with the strategy, the products featured in Calico’s Retail Programs (namely fudge) were elevated by focusing on its exceptional properties given how consumers react to it, and how it can help drive metrics that really matter for retailers. Conduit developed a content strategy by medium and content type for Marketing to deploy when accentuating certain brand elements and so forth. 

A unifying "New Calico Cottage" Brand Strategy was developed which extended beyond the traditional color schemes and logo packages. This strategy integrated with the Content Strategy in an effort to retrain how new and future customers perceive Calico and its potential impact at retail.

Section 6

The Website
Becomes the Point of
Convergence for Calico Cottage.

Having all of the pre-requisites in place allowed for Conduit to assemble the “New Calico Cottage” digital presence.  The pre-work, coordination and strategy itself providing Conduit and Calico with the luxury of concise direction and business rationale for every image, font style, page layout, button type, color and orientation along with a specific purpose for each word used within the core Buyer’s Journey.

The new design and content strategy were presented to the Client at first, and then again to a large focus group of CEOs’ across a variety of different companies for feedback with universally positive test case reactions.

Bringing the Calico Brand to Life via Design Elements, Imagery & Media.

Conduit took a leadership role in bringing Calico's Brand Experience to life through video.  Customers were flown in from across the country, for a two-day summit led by Conduit that featured video pieces promoting their businesses and telling the story of how they’ve been made even more successful with Calico as their Partner.

Once the shoot was completed, Conduit worked alongside the vendor partner to provide targeted creative consulting during the editing process to position the content for maximum impact.

Within the website itself Conduit established a narrative that balanced Calico’s historical narrative voice with a more direct, conversational tone with the reader.

Taking advantage of each element of the website experience, “Success Stories”, “Customer Quotes,” Thought Leadership Pieces and Suggested Articles where all branded with titles distinguishing the business reason and benefit of the content type to the reader.

Section 7

Leveraging Qualitative and Quantitative Data to Power a Game Changing eCommerce Strategy

A comprehensive understanding of Calico’s current and future customers’ behavior patterns unlocked a world of possibilities for the introduction of eCommerce functionality to Calico’s website. 

This intellectual advantage enabled Conduit Innovation to link customer segment profiles and the development of product attributes led to the establishment of relationships between products themselves.

Leveraging Calico’s new brand position, Conduit was able to link groups of products with their associated impacts to retailers who are considering adding them to their product mix.

Section 8

Changing the Way Calico Cottage Looks at Its Business
(and Customers).

What began as a website project, opened the door to reinvention for Calico Cottage. To support the continued success of the people at Calico Cottage; a comprehensive eLearning curriculum was created to underscore the philosophy, theory and its practical application to Calico Cottage.

Having this framework in place, allowed Calico Cottage to ensure quality would be extended for years to come, and new associates at Calico would be indoctrinated into the company with the “new” vision in mind.

Innovating How Calico Supports
Its People to Better Support Its Customers.

A byproduct of an engagement lasting over two years, Conduit had thousands of pages of documentation with over 750 pages of strategic deliverables prepared and presented to the Calico Executive Team.  Next, Conduit Innovation went through the process of cataloging and splicing all relevant content, deliverables, strategy and tactical elements undertaken as part of the journey with Calico into a comprehensive knowledgebase.

Calico Cottage's Internal Knowledgebase will not only house the eLearning, and other content but the structure of it will provide for an intuitive way for others within Calico Cottage to add and curate content that they generate as a function of their enhanced approach to their job functions and the business at large.

Section 9

Measures to Ensure Continuity of Customer Centricity.

As a final measure, Conduit worked closely with the CEO at Calico Cottage to establish a responsible and orderly transition plan to transfer day to day ownership over key innovation based operational responsibilities to a Transformation Leader to ensure continuity of strategy and vision is maintained.

Conduit provided hands on consulting services to the a member of the senior leadership team who was designated as Calico Cottage's "Transformation Leader."  Within this role, the Transformation Leader assumed the role as point person charged with identifying any potential tactical gaps which the larger strategy may not have accounted for so they may be addressed, further enhancing the success rate of adoption.

This role provided Calico Cottage with a critical component- it gave the various stakeholders and opportunity to make the transformed Calico Cottage their own.  This role was designed to serve as a familair rallying point with Conduit in place to gradually transition it's own role to an advisor and educator for the staff at Calico on the philopshy behind the "New Calico Cottage".

To ensure the continuity of strategy and vision remained; Conduit acted as a curator to the “New Calico Cottage” business strategy by amending the master business strategic plan originally crafted with the CEO to account for adjustments made during the implementation phase.  This ensured that the stakeholders within Calico Cottage, can at any time refer to a singular document which serves as the “North Star” for the business, until such time when it does not.