Demystifying consumer motivations and building a cohesive product portfolio

The Challenge

Air Wick, a globally renowned home fragrance brand with over £1 billion in annual sales, faced the challenge of understanding the distinct consumer needs for two of its largest product platforms. With a diverse range of products like aerosols, candles, and diffusers, Air Wick needed to avoid the risk of converging two platforms on similar use cases, which could lead to unnecessary duplication in their portfolio.

STRAT7 Advisory was engaged to delve deep into consumer behaviour, then translate these findings into a unique product innovation strategy for each format

Consumer Observation & Provocation

We combined observation and interrogation of normal use with provocation from a deprivation and product swap exercise. The study highlighted a surprising new use case and some deeply emotional needs which were worked up into discrete opportunity spaces that were aligned with the full client team.

The team employed an innovative three-part online ethnography methodology:

  • Natural Usage Observation: Consumers were observed using their products in their usual way and interrogated about why they do what they do. This revealed a new and unexpected use case which contradicted the established wisdom about the product.
  • Deprivation Study: Participants were asked to abstain from using all home fragrance for 48 hours. Understanding their feelings and what they missed during this period uncovered key lifestyle moments where products have most impact and helped consumers identify the emotional benefits which they’d previously taken for granted.
  • Product Swap Exercise: Consumers exchanged their usual products for a different format, allowing them to articulate their needs and preferences by directly comparing the formats. This highlighted that while the desired outcomes of the two formats were similar, the contexts and situations of use varied significantly.


Post-study interviews provided further insights into consumer behaviours and preliminary ideas for innovation.

Ideation Through Multiple Lenses

To translate opportunity spaces into actionable product concepts and long-term strategy, we conducted a two-day ideation workshop which combined highly creative and thought-provoking stimulus with pragmatic refinement and prioritisation:

  • Day 1 (Divergent Thinking): Focused on generating a wide range of ideas. Activities included:
    • Immersive exercises to get under the skin of consumers.
    • Input and provocation from external design experts.
    • Inspirational tours of high-end design and homeware stores for creative stimulation.


  • Day 2 (Convergent Thinking): Prioritisation and development of ideas into detailed concepts. This phase involved:
    • Overnight consumer testing of top Day 1 ideas.
    • Identification of key themes which drive consumer preference
    • Refinement of concepts based on feedback.

Strategic Review

To refocus the ideas back to the original objective, we assessed each shortlisted idea against the agreed opportunities to ensure they were delivering on the established consumer needs and tensions. We then looked back at the long list of ideas and identified which could deliver on the opportunities in ways which are distinct vs the shortlist. 

The new shortlist was then assessed for feasibility by Air Wick’s technical team and written up by STRAT7 into concise concepts. To help bring each idea to life we used AI tools to rapidly generate visuals for each concept.

In addition to concepts, we identified a number of long-term innovation themes which can be delivered through successive concepts over time. This step was crucial to illustrate how a long-term product strategy can be much more impactful than series of disjointed ideas.

The full project was completed in the space of 13 weeks and concepts are now being taken into quantitative testing and will form a crucial backbone of Air Wick’s product pipeline.

The STRAT7 team fully invested themselves in helping to deepen our understanding of how our consumers use our products. They then facilitated the translation of this understanding into strategic opportunities and innovations which will have a significant impact on our pipeline. The team had the perfect balance of collaboration and provocation, and worked with flexibility and pace which was much appreciated! The ideas and concepts that we developed as part of this work are helping us structure future thinking on our brand. We are extremely thankful for their partnership and would certainly work with them again on innovation strategy!” 

R&D Director


Joe Lockey

Senior Analyst

Joe joined us after completing rotations across our consumer, services and health sectors, whilst gaining exposure to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.


Alice Hedlund


Alice has experience in customer-centric growth, brand strategy and innovation at global scale. She specialises in brand transformation journeys, bridging the gap between business and brand strategy to create holistic and actionable plans for impactful growth.

Helen Donald


Job Title

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Tom Carvell


Tom has a science background with a PhD in Materials Chemistry. He has spent most of his career working on in-house front-end innovation where he delivered mid/long term strategic projects for brands such as Durex, Scholl, Veet and KY. He is focussed on delivering pragmatic but provocative innovation strategy for CPG categories.

Manick Pratheeban

Senior Principal

Manick is a brand strategy and consumer insight specialist with 15+ years’ experience helping to grow some of the world’s biggest brands. He has a proven track record of translating trends, consumer, and market data into actionable insights to formulate growth strategies.

Kate Jones

Senior Principal

Kate has over a decade of experience in creating transformative strategies for customer-focused businesses. With a background in consumer insight and behaviour change across consumer health, packaged goods, leisure, banking and other sectors she focuses on elevating the customer experience to create human-centric innovations and foster impactful growth.

Jacob Gascoine-Becker


Jacob specialises in leveraging consumer research to inform investment strategy and business case development. A management consultant since 2014, he previously spent eight years working in ecommerce and digital marketing.

Ines Achabal

Senior Analyst

Ines is inately curious and creative. She is known for her expansive thinking when exploring client challenges and elevating the visual quality of outputs to maximise their impact.

Helene Mills


Helene has 20+ years’ experience advising business leaders and investors on growth strategy based upon consumer and market intelligence. Her particular specialism lies in leisure, retail, food and beverage sectors.

Helen Donald

Helen Donald


Helen has consulted businesses at different stages of growth across a variety of sectors, specialising in consumer packaged goods and consumer healthcare. She is an adept strategist, bringing clarity to the most complex of situations and connecting dots to create rich, future-proofed platforms for innovation, brand positioning and growth.

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

Allan Chen

Senior Principal

Allan’s core skillset provides an analytical and commercial lens to address client challenges. He started his career as an actuary, and since then has held a broad range of strategic roles, improving performance across the private and public sector.


Björn Dufwenberg

Managing Director​

Björn has 15+ years’ experience in insight-driven transformation, across management consulting, as well as brand and innovation agency roles. Most recently he headed up the Customer-Led Transformation practice at PwC Sweden, until joining STRAT7 in 2021. He’s worked on global projects covering consumer goods, durables, spirits and beverages, retail, banking, and private equity.

Kamilla Dala

Senior Principal

Kamilla has 10+ years’ experience leading and implementing insight-driven transformation within global matrix organisations in durable and consumable goods. Areas of expertise cover segmentation, uncovering and translating actionable consumer insights within innovation, product development, brand positioning, strategy and marketing.