Mark Carr

Recent Posts

Looking for Innovation? Consider "Brand-Storming"

Posted by Mark Carr

Thu, Feb 06, 2014

Originally posted in the SMEI blog

South Street Strategy and CMBAt some point all business leaders are challenged to “innovate” in order to grow their company’s bottom line.

Done right, innovation creates value for both the company and the customer through new-to –the-world solutions to needs. It’s logical that products and services are where companies start their innovation efforts because, after all, these are very tangible sources of value. However, brand and marketing can also be powerful drivers of value and differentiation and should not be overlooked as potential anchors for innovation.Many innovation initiatives begin with a brainstorming session in which a bunch of internal folks sit around and try to generate new ideas for products or services they think customers want. For a fresh take on this process, consider “brand-storming” as the starting point for inspiration.

What is a “brand-storming” session, exactly? Well, in marketing speak, it’s generating innovative ideas for brand extensions, leveraging brand equity (a very valuable asset) to push into adjacent or even totally new product areas.

Start a successful brand-storm with  a clear articulation of your brand strategy, brand attributes and positioning. Then do creativity exercises that apply key brand attributes to new markets or to new solutions to existing customers.

Need to get the juices flowing? Look for examples in the marketplace:

  • Consumer products are the easiest place to start. For example, consider Arm & Hammer Baking Soda’s extension to toothpaste (“clean” and “white”) or Duracell’s introduction of the PowerMat to recharge phones and other devices (e.g. “long lasting power”).

  • Virgin is probably the poster child for brand-centered innovation, using its well-defined and unique positioning to extend into everything from airlines to cell phones.

All of this is not to say that brand should be the only source of invention. But brand-storming brings a new part of the company to the innovation table and adds another angle for sparking new, powerful ideas for growth. 

In our upcoming webinar we will look at some of the common pitfalls of innovation initiatives and explore how to use “brand” and “brand attributes” as well as innovative go-to-market strategies to unlock growth opportunities in new, unexpected directions. Hope to see you there!

Posted by J. Mark Carr, Mark is co-founder and managing partner of South Street Strategy Group.

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, Strategic Consulting, Product Development, Marketing Strategy, Webinar, Brand Health & Positioning, Growth & Innovation

South Street Strategy Gears up for the Back End of Innovation!

Posted by Mark Carr

Fri, Nov 15, 2013

back end of innovationAt South Street Strategy Group, we love working on innovation projects as well as presenting  and exchanging ideas with fellow practitioners at innovation-related events.Earlier this year, South Street’s Managing Partner, Mark Carr, presented at the Front End of Innovation Conference in Boston along with Judy Melanson from CMB (South Street’s sister market research firm), and Jeremy Palmer, Vice President of Tauck (our client). The topic was Focused Innovation: Creating New Value for a Legacy Brand and we shared the success story of how we’ve helped Tauck ignite growth worldwide through its baby boomer focused Culturious brand. You can check out a recording of that presentation here.

Next week, we will be heading to Santa Clara, California for the Back End of Innovation Conference (Nov. 18-20) and can’t wait to get immersed in all of the activities – keynote sessions, breakouts, networking breaks, and meals with friends old and new. If you’re in the area or will be attending the conference, let us know. We’d love to meet up! 

South Street StrategySouth Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. 

Royal Caribbean Case StudyFor more on how CMB and South Street Strategy help executives strengthen their brands and positions, identify opportunities, segment their markets, overcome challenges and drive brand zeal and customer loyalty, check out a few of our case studies here.

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, Conference Insights

Introducing Focused Innovation

Posted by Mark Carr

Thu, Mar 21, 2013

south street strategy groupIn recent years, innovation has become the latest catchword in US boardrooms, and even slow moving industries not normally associated with innovation suddenly see it as a capability critical to survival. Recently, however, a quiet backlash is forming as the word conjures up images of afternoons lost to brainstorming sessions and stickie-noted walls, with little to show for it in the bottom line.

The fact is, most corporate innovation initiatives—regardless of industry—will fail. And the seeds of that failure are often contained in the lack of clarity on what innovation is and how it will help the company achieve corporate goals. For any business leader, innovation must be viewed as a means to an end. In our experience, the best innovation programs are focused growth initiatives with clear business goals or at least parameters, not a free-for-all of ideas. Thus, we define innovation as the process of finding new and better ways of helping customers achieve their goals in a way that creates value and growth for the company. It’s all about creating value for the customer, and capturing that newfound value to increase the bottom line for the company.

Using this definition, innovation need not be as far-reaching as a new branding campaign or a shake-up-the-industry product in order to be a success. In fact, for most companies innovation is less about coming up with new ideas and more about re-purposing or combining existing ideas into a better solution. Uncovering these opportunities requires a multi-method approach we call Focused Innovation, which is based on the belief that the strongest innovation strategies are built on superior market insights and a laser-like focus on customers’ goals.

How “focused” is your innovation strategy?

Posted by J. Mark Carr, Mark is co-founder and managing partner of South Street Strategy Group.

South Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. 

Join us, in Boston, May 6th-8th at The Front End of Innovation Conference for: Focused Innovation: Creating new value for a legacy brand

Come enjoy visions of distant lands and mouth-watering adventures as you learn how Tauck Worldwide, an 85-year old tour company, applied the principles of focused innovation to successfully reinventing its core offering for a new audience: the affluent baby boomer.


  • Jeremy Palmer, Vice President; General Manager TWD Land, Events & New Ventures, Tauck

  • Judy Melanson, VP, Travel and Hospitality Practice, Chadwick Martin Bailey

  • J. Mark Carr, Managing Partner, South Street Strategy Group


Topics: South Street Strategy Group, Strategic Consulting, Growth & Innovation

Upcoming Webinar February 28th: Segmentation as a Change Agent

Posted by Mark Carr

Fri, Feb 22, 2013

describe the imageAs with many financial services firms, SunTrust Bank has had to re-consider its strategy over the past several years. My colleagues at Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB is South Street’s sister company) and I had the privilege of recently working with the company as it shifted into a decidedly customer-centric approach to the way it designed its products and services.

Next Thursday, I am pleased to be co-presenting a webinar with Jeff VanDeVelde from SunTrust and Rich Schreuer from CMB. We’ll be covering SunTrust’s use of customer segmentation to drive its shift to customer centricity.

What’s a strategy consulting firm doing talking about segmentation, you might ask?

Well, strategy is as much about saying “no” as it is about saying “yes” to opportunities for growth. Being able to identify, understand, and then remain true to your target customers is at the core of any good strategy. Clarity around target market segments helps businesses crystallize and rally around the strategies that will drive the most value for their best customers, profitably.

At some point, all our projects hinge on being able to answer the question: will this product feature/marketing message/overall initiative/etc meet my most valuable customers’ needs? Because we believe customer-centric strategy and innovation leads to more profitable growth, all our work contains a strong foundational element of re-grounding the client in the market and their best target segments – for today and the future.

We hope you will join us to learn more on the 28th, and please drop us a line to let us know what you think! Click here to register.

Posted by J. Mark Carr, Mark is co-founder and managing partner of South Street Strategy Group.

South Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies.

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, Strategic Consulting, Webinar, Market Strategy & Segmentation

An Innovative Approach to Segmentation for a Changing Insurance Industry

Posted by Mark Carr

Tue, Mar 13, 2012

Segmenting the health care market CMBThe 2014 implementation of many of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) key provisions has sparked a great deal of speculation about the future of the healthcare market; there seems to be no end to the models predicting how the law will impact the insurance industry. There is no question that reform will shift the health insurance industry to a more retail based model, and in the process challenge traditional insurers to develop new consumer oriented capabilities.  A vital piece of planning for this shift will require understanding changes in consumer decision-making. The traditional approach of health insurers to segmenting the market is unlikely to provide the kind of insight necessary to win in an industry facing such fundamental regulatory, economic, and cultural change.

Traditional segmentation approaches cut the consumer market by demographics (e.g. age, gender) or funding source (e.g. who pays).  This approach was appropriate in years past when there was relatively little competition, differentiation, and when choice was limited. However, the insurance industry’s move to a more complex and competitive model requires a more nuanced understanding of customer needs and differentiators. The newly minted college grad indeed has different needs from their parents moving toward retirement or the young professional starting a family. This is proven out in some recent research we conducted.

To get a better sense of insurance consumers and their preferences, CMB and the South Street Strategy Group analyzed the responses of nearly 1,500 Americans over the age of 18, surveyed as part of CMB’s Consumer Pulse Program.  We then segmented the market by plan features and found five distinct segments that illustrate the needs and goals people have for their insurance coverage.

The segments we found are defined not solely by age or insurance source but by the needs and goals people have for their insurance coverage, and provide far more insight than traditional methods. For example one large segment, who we’ve termed “e-Patients” are the most interested in managing their healthcare or “visiting” their doctor online.  They’re price sensitive, want out-of-network coverage and are willing to switch primary care providers to get the benefits they want. Knowing the attributes of this and other significant segments of the insured population is invaluable to insurance providers who are facing an increasingly customer-centric industry.

Health Insurance SegmentationTo learn more about our approach and see more detailed profiles of the other segments click here.

Posted by J. Mark Carr, Mark is co-founder and managing partner of South Street Strategy Group.

South Street Strategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, Health Insurance Research, Consumer Pulse, Market Strategy & Segmentation