• Food Actually®


The ZenMango Difference

Complete consumer insight solution

We have identified that “consumers act emotionally but rationalize logically.” Hence most consumer insight discovery starts with observing the customer and understanding their interaction with the brand.


Proven track record of making an impact

BRAND TRACKING WITH A PURPOSE: Looking beyond the 100 pages of PowerPoint with graphs and charts that are updated every quarter? Looking to use tracking studies to make an impact in your business instead of just using the slides for periodic management presentations? Then you need to take a look ZenMango’s way of brand tracking with a purpose. We start by having conversations with every stakeholder who can benefit from the tracking study to understand their needs. Once the study is completed, we are ready to sit with each stakeholder to assist them in getting the consumer insights they needed to make a big splash in their area. The true value of brand tracking comes from ongoing conversations with stakeholders and using the insight to make an impact on the ongoing running of the business.

IMPACT: Our tracking studies are often looked at as one of the highest ROI consumer insight initiatives that you may undertake. 

ADVERTISING EFFECTIVENESS: We know you are not measuring your advertising effectiveness to rank your advertising. You want your advertising dollars to go the furthest, build a stronger brand, and drive more transactions. We start by comparing against benchmarks (internal and industry) to identify where the advertising stands, then identify the underlying consumer insights that will change the motivation of consumers. We finish every advertising test with answers to the following two questions:

1.  What is the key takeaway and call to action from the ad, broken down by key target groups?
2.  What changes, if any, should you consider to get a higher level of call to action from your advertising?

IMPACT: Constant push on reaching significant sales increase by increasing the appeal of advertising among key targeted demographic groups.

AD CLAIM SUBSTANTIATION: Want to jump start your brand’s market place presence? Then you must take note of the fact that the following things are allowed in advertising in the United States:

  1. Puffery: Where one can make a claim that is so outlandish that it is implied that no consumer in their normal state of mind will believe it.
  2. Comparative advertising: Where you can put a competitor’s name in advertising and claim how (in what area or way) you are better than them.

Puffery requires little preparation other than finding a claim that connects to consumers and also follows the zone of puffery. But as the word suggests, unless the puffery message is carefully designed, consumers tend to not take them very seriously.

Comparative advertising, when done right, is the big opportunity for emerging brands as it puts the “David” of the category to be viewed in the same reference point as the “Goliath.” The sudden jump in awareness results in high increase in trial, but this mega reward comes with a huge risk. You have to “substantiate your claim” beyond any doubt and taking that on is no easy task. Networks need to be assured and convinced before they agree to run your comparative advertising. ZenMango is in a unique position of advantage in this area. When Arjun was in the corporate world he lead one of the most successful and talked about comparative advertising tests of recent times, where Papa John’s went after Pizza Hut. ZenMango has assisted a number of clients to plan the entire project. The blue-print of our plan can be found here for you to review. You may be wondering if you have the plan, why do you need us? It is not the plan, but the strategic thinking that goes along with implementing the plan, that makes the difference between winning big and not winning at all. It is our way of thinking that defines us as the leaders in the category.

IMPACT: Every claim substantiated by us has been accepted by networks and withstood challenges in the court of law. You could say we have the perfect batting record and we feel confident in keeping it that way when we complete your project.

BRAND STRATEGY “WHITE SPACE” / POSITIONING / OPPORTUNITIES: Most requests for “creating a White Space” comes from stakeholders who want to approve a brand’s future positioning and the investment that will go into it. We believe that with the same effort that it takes to create the document for the select stakeholders, we can do more. We can create a “White Space” that is a free flowing document that estimates a brand’s opportunity by identifying its potential competitive positioning, need fulfillment of target, and source of potential business. This is one of the first steps for a brand to define its value proposition, what it stands for, and what kind of consumer reward can happen as a result of this.

When we work with a brand to develop its “White Space” we blend the science of consumer insight with the art of identifying what current consumer needs can be better met by the brand. The robust “White Page” (which comes from the White Space) on one side helps the brand to be the true north for the brand’s development team, and on the other side, helps the stakeholders to get a clear idea of the brand’s future potential.

IMPACT: The success of a White Page is only as successful as the development team's success in developing the brand elements and the stakeholders' (board members) buy-in to the process. A recent White Page for a brand was accepted by its' board in one meeting, with hardly any questions. Even we were surprised by how well it went.

DOWN-STORE/MARKET TURNAROUND: The sales growth for most brands comes from their high performing markets and stores, but it is the down stores and markets that neutralize the success of the high performing stores. We developed a proprietary Leaky Bucket® tool that identifies the drivers of low sales in down stores / markets and creates a path for successful turnaround. We identify the size of the brands “leak,” defined by the percentage of people who are unsure of returning, and prioritize the reasons for the leak. This enables a brand to get a clear picture of what to work on first which has a greater impact on reviving the brand and reducing the leak.

IMPACT: Provided clear road-maps for brands to create high impact turnaround plans. We are flattered by the fact that our competition uses our Leaky Bucket® techniques without even informing us. What they do not understand is that the proprietary way of gathering the Leaky Bucket® data is only part of the ZenMango brilliance in this high impact area. It is the way ZenMango uses the tool to identify insights that truly results in the high impact turnaround, which only the founder’s with the vision who discovered the process can do effectively. So we at ZenMango caution you about fake-fixers, as your brand deserves the best. Well assisted brands can turn around markets within six months.

DEEP DIVE CUSTOMER IMMERSION: Brands often “do a focus group” when they want qualitative feedback from their customers. ZenMango believes in having conversations with customers and not simply doing focus groups. A conversation on the customer's terms helps ZenMango get a peek into the customer’s mind on why they feel a certain way and what drives future opportunity. Without a conversation, a focus group simply becomes a Q&A session where a customer in the very early phase starts acting like an expert and not a consumer.

For conversations that are personal, where every customer’s feedback is quite deep and often intimate (e.g. why have you chosen to walk away), ZenMango goes for a one-on-one conversation with a customer to identify insights that cannot be gained by quantitative research or focus groups. Imagine you wanted to find out why five of your friends were going through divorces. You would not do a focus group with all five and mechanically ask them a series of questions. The ZenMango way of conducting a Deep Dive would be to ask each friend one-on-one to understand their personal situation. The very fact that you are investing time only in one friend at a time will help that friend to open up.

ZenMango uses Deep Dive interviews when a brand wants to understand their customer’s core connection to their brand or reactions to specific products or communications. We try to simulate the Deep Dive interviews in the environment that the customer typically interacts with the brand. This setting allows the customer to provide candid feedback that can be probed, which may not be available in other methods. Our difference is a proven process combined with the flexibility of changing directions during the interview to give our clients the feedback they need to make decisions. The insights from the Deep Dives go beyond traditional consumer insight and gets to the heart of the issue, which allows brands to understand their core equity in the mind of the consumer. This is one of the most powerful and high-impact areas of work that ZenMango does, and the power of this is defined by the following:

  1. The consumer reality created by the individual customers' directness
  2. ZenMango’s insights are much deeper than a “put another Band-Aid on it" solution

IMPACT: When a customer stares at the camera and tells a brand “when and how he fell in love with the brand” or “what the brand did for him to fall out of love with the brand,” it is a brand defining moment. In every instance where we have presented these moments to brand’s stakeholders, it has been a consumer-centric defining moment.

PRODUCT LINE OPTIMIZATION: Brands achieve significant gains by identifying the minimum number of product line options that will allow them to maximize their appeal among their target audience and reduce clutter. We have developed a proprietary method of optimizing the product line items for a brand. At the heart of this is ZenMango’s way of doing TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) analysis. ZenMango has taken this technique which requires “algorithms to run and user manuals to decipher the meaning of the output” to a simple interactive process where the brand’s stakeholder's can participate. “What happens if I want to keep these five product lines then do the optimization?” results in us developing a modified process forcing those five items in. In the absence of this insight, brands often put anything and everything on their list of consumer offerings and, in the process, confuse the customer and wear out its team members.

IMPACT: Brought the blend of effectiveness and efficiency to the product mix of a brand to maximize its potential. Helping a brand identify how to “do a few things right to reap the brand’s promised rewards” creates a confidence in the brand and frees up critical resources to enhance the guest experience. This is truly an exercise in “simplification and focus” through the science of predictions. 

NEW CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT: This starts where the White Space finishes. Once a brand has developed a White Space and the stakeholders have buy-in on the vision, the toughest part of the challenge begins. How do you do the development within the constraints of the White Space but achieve the returns projected?

Breaking the development process in pieces and making sure each part is maximized, but within the brand’s outlined white space, is the first step. Example: When a new restaurant develops the concept, first the concept has to be evaluated. Next, the menu has to be developed, evaluated, and tweaked. After that, the food fulfillment has to be evaluated and tweaked. Finally, the actual restaurant look and feel needs to be evaluated and tweaked to fit the menu and the concept. Once everything is in place, the overall consumer fulfillment has to be evaluated and tweaked to ensure the best offering is available to the end customer.

A new concept development process ends with a validation that every concept element connects with the customer and delivers on the brand promise.

IMPACT: Aided multiple brands launch new concepts in the marketplace ranging from self-service kiosks to a new fast casual restaurant category.

NEW PRODUCT INNOVATION / DEVELOPMENT: Any “traditional research company” can do new product innovation and development. Why then is it that such a small percentage of new products are successful? ZenMango believes that the traditional approach is often mechanical and tries to identify product features, then figure out the relative importance of those features in order to finalize the new product. This whole thing falls flat on its face if you realize that a customer can only react to a product and not create new products for you. Hence ZenMango starts with a discovery of the customer’s underlying needs. Once the needs are identified, ZenMango finds a way to see how different product features connect as benefits and address the underlying need. This requires quite a lot of patience and often can be frustrating as “one is not walking into a new product store and walking out with a solution.” In every case the patience pays off. New products brought to market by brands that fulfill the underlying consumer need and connect the product benefits to that need have a higher success rate when launched.

IMPACT: The proof of the impact is the fact that the customer still has an unfulfilled need that has not been addressed. Competition has tried to use cookie cutter processes to find a solution that can be slapped on as a band-aid. However, they have not addressed the true solution. ZenMango has taken multiple brands through the discovery process to identify the underlying consumer need and the connection to the benefits in their product innovation process.

SALES ANALYSIS WITH A PURPOSE: Analyzing internal metrics such as sales and transactions can help a brand identify amazing opportunities, but it is more than just graphing the brand’s sales for presentations. It can aid a brand in identifying week/day parts to target, when to promote events or modify the marketing calendar to reduce seasonality, or understand the impact of weather and holidays in different markets. Our difference is in uncovering the “nuggets” and insights that a brand can use to take specific actions, which will make an impact on their overall sales.

IMPACT: Successfully used sales analysis to increase the high seasonality of a brand from 24 to 30 weeks, and in making an impact at unit/ market level marketing, which has resulted in a sustained 20% annual sales increase for the last 15 years. We don’t work on net present value of incremental cash flow, but if we did, the resulting NPV would be in the billions.

OBSERVATION: Observation is an often overlooked way of gathering unique and powerful insights. Observing customers experiencing the brand first hand allows you to see how they interact with each element in the brand experience. ZenMango calls these “touch points.” Defining each touch point and evaluating how the brand performs in each of these areas allows a brand to tweak and customize the guest experience. When I was at Einstein Bros., one of our challenges was menu mix: approximately 65% of all purchases was for a plain bagel, plain cream cheese. As we wanted to increase this mix to include other innovative flavors the development team was working on, I took to observation to see what was driving the plain bagel, plain cream cheese mix. It was only through observation that we uncovered that when a customer walks up to order, the team member taking the order gave the customer eye contact for about 5 seconds while they decided on their order. After 5 seconds, the team member took their eye contact off the customer in front of the line and put the focus on the next customer in line. At that point, the customer, feeling pressured, ordered the simplest/easiest order they could think of; plain bagel, plain cream cheese. Upon this discovery we provided ordering aids to customers and tested it at that particular store. The result was the customer now had the control to look at the ordering aid, decide on what combination they wanted to order, and increased the menu mix for other products. These ordering aids were later introduced system wide. It is these unique insights that are hard to uncover without observing customers during their brand experience.

IMPACT: ZenMango has utilized observation across multiple industries. In combination with observation and our way of thinking, we have uncovered insights that have allowed brands to implement changes that make a significant impact on the customer experience.

BRAND STRATEGY: When a brand undertakes a major initiative that impacts the future of the business, it often needs to include external partners and experts, each with their own areas of expertise. ZenMango has a proven track record of implementing brand strategies both as a consultant and by experience in Arjun’s corporate days. We help brands define and implement strategies by:

  • Defining the overall vision and getting buy-in from all stakeholders
  • Facilitating and moderating discussions with key stakeholders
  • Ensuring alignment to overall vision and keeping the team on track to meet that vision
  • Providing breakthrough insights throughout the process
  • Getting the team to the end result based on the overall vision

IMPACT: ZenMango has successfully helped brand leaders define and execute major strategic initiatives. One such example was taking an established brand from one segment of an industry to an emerging new category. This included repositioning the brand while building on their core equities. The project started as a vision from the board of directors, which ZenMango took from proving the opportunity, validating the concept and products among target customers, and implementing each piece of the journey while connecting to the overall vision.


We realize that each project or problem shouldn't be boxed into a predetermined way of solving. Whether your problem needs quantitative/qualitative consumer insight, sales analysis, observation, or brand strategy, we develop a custom solution to fit the needs of each unique problem.

   Quantitative Research  Qualitative Research Observe Sales Analysis Brand Strategy
Advertising Research / Ad testing      
Brand Architecture
Brand Expansion beyond start-up market  
Brand Positioning    
Brand Strategic Planning Sessions      
Brand Tracking      
Brand Turnaround using Leaky Bucket®      
Comparative Advertising      
Deep Dive    
Down Market / Store Study      
Focus Groups        
Guest Experience Enhancement      
KPI's/Leading Indicators      
New Product Innovation    
Product Line Optimization    
Revenue Generating Planning      
Team member satisfaction      
Understanding & targeting different socio-economic segments    
Volumetric Projection      
Product Development    
Individual branding        
Assisting CMO's        





National and regional restaurant chains around the country have started to get a jump start on the FDA rule of putting calorie and other nutritional information on menus. 

There are many articles about “what brands are doing or trying to do.” We wanted to identify “what eaters want.” We started studying what eaters want in 2009. We called it Food Actually®, where the focus is entirely on the eater and what they want. In the 2015 study, we identified the following two insights that will have a big impact on the restaurant industry. 

  • Only one in three eaters care about the nutritional information and even fewer want the information from brands. [That translates to more than 2/3 of eaters do not care about brands providing the information]
  • We discovered something else that nearly 2/3 of eaters really must know, the urgency of which is driven by fact that the "need to know" is highest among millennials (both genders).

The study digs deep into what eaters must know and addresses the following areas:

  1. What specifically eaters must know about their food beyond nutritional/calorie information
  2. How millennials are reacting and what they need to know
  3. How the information need varies by restaurant category and occasions
  4. What eaters expect from brands in providing information about the food
  5. The effectiveness of industry buzz words and what they really mean to eaters
  6. How assured eaters are about the food they eat away from home
  7. The reward for a brand to increase food assurance

We have uncovered 11 key insights that eaters must know now. We believe it is important for your brand to start a discussion around the insights.

We at ZenMango believe in providing insights that will move your brand forward. We are not in the business of selling a report as it is not numbers alone that move a brand forward but brand leaders having a conversation using the insights. We would love to share the learning with your brand and take you through a discussion on how your brand can be at the leading edge of Food Assuredness. For more information, please contact us at info@zenmango.com.


Casual Faster™

Learn about ZenMango's Casual Faster products and services here.