Insights and Strategy

We're a partner in problem solving.

Problem solving begins with a clear understanding of the ”why” of any challenge or assignment. By leveraging our curious nature, research and experiences, our brand planners collaborate with account service and creative teams to find the intersection of a brand’s strengths with marketplace opportunities, delivering insights, strategies and content to support the unique position.

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Insights & Strategy

Through intelligence gathering, application and planning, we advocate for the voice of the customer to ensure representation throughout the creative and execution process.

Inspiration

  • Primary research strategy
  • Secondary research curation
  • Macto trends/insights
  • Key customer presentations

Strategy

  • Customer, consumer, channel insights & implications
  • Innovation strategy & processses
  • Mission, vision and long range strategic planning

Branding

  • Brand and product positioning + definition
  • Creative brief development & testing
  • Go-to-market planning & selling propositions
  • Operator personas; brand, category and competitive mapping

Innovation

  • Flavor Atlas market analysis
  • Market immersions
  • Ideation sessions

Content

  • Content strategy
  • Annual strategic planning
  • Platforms, outlines and copy development

BrandStorm™

A BrandStorm™ session is a dynamic, interactive session (in person or virtual) focused on a particular brand or competitive issue that needs solved fast with a maximum of inputs. It is a casual format—no PowerPoint presentations or handouts. Flip charts and markers are the key elements that guide and capture the fluid discussion.

Everyone who attends is a participant—there are no “observers” to the process. By design, some of the session participants have a deep and broad understanding of the client’s business. Others do not. This creates a combination of experience and fresh perspective.

The discussions during a BrandStorm session are steeped in strategy. We create energy around who we are and what we want to become rather than focusing specifically on what we’re going to do. The result is that “big picture perspective” that will fundamentally impact the way we do business. The tactical execution of this plan gets created at a later time

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Insights & Strategy Work

Flavor Atlas map

Marlin Network

Flavor Atlas

Marlin Network

Flavor Atlas

Curiosity About the World of Flavor Is as Old as the Time
Flavor Atlas is our proprietary tool to track tastes as they move across the food landscape. Covering important food and beverage trends, Flavor Atlas highlights “mainstream,” “opportunity” and “emerging” flavors.

Work sample of Restaurant Help

Marlin Network

H.E.L.P.

Marlin Network

H.E.L.P.

Marlin Network Restaurant Integrated Support Campaign
At the height of the pandemic, we asked ourselves what we could do to help restaurants adapt, survive and possibly thrive. We were able to create a multimedia collaboration with Foodable TV that features 12 podcast episodes, toolkits and other collateral with practical, re-startup advice.

McCain responsive website

The Alchemedia Project

McCain Makeover

The Alchemedia Project

McCain Makeover

Adaptation and Innovation
Website refreshes are crucial to keeping up with a changing marketplace. The site makeover for McCain Foods was a key strategy for the company’s plan to “walk the walk” as an indispensable partner and solution provider to operators.

Tyson Raised and Rooted

Marlin

Tyson Raised and Rooted

Marlin

Tyson Raised and Rooted

Planting a New Seed
Marlin has been helping nurture a new brand from Tyson Foodservice: Raised & Rooted™ plant-based offerings. As the plant-forward movement accelerates, we’re excited to help them grow into new channels.

Bush's Beans recipe

Marlin

Bush's Beans More Than Meals

Marlin

Bush's Beans More Than Meals

Serving Much More Than Meals
The new normal has shifted takeout and delivery in foodservice from being a maybe to an absolute must have. To help operators, we worked with Bush’s Beans to create a to-go program that could help establishments keep families in their community well-fed — and keep business going.

Choice Hotels

The Halverson Group

Choice Hotels

The Halverson Group

Choice Hotels

Optimizing the Guest Journey for Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels, which operates more than 6,800 hotels around the world (including such well-known properties as Cambria, Comfort Inn, and EconoLodge), was looking to better understand the check-in/check-out experience, realizing that first impressions count and can make or break a guest’s stay.

Perspectives on Insights and Strategy

Can “WFH” Produce Better Creative Work?

Tim Bade

Tim Bade

Chief Creative Officer
I’ve been wondering whether working from home can elevate our creative work. Many studies have been done and most point to enhanced efficiency from people working at home rather than an office. But how does that apply to the creative work we do?
Working from home with kids hanging on you

Six Factors That Drive Every Consumer Choice

Ron Halverson

Ron Halverson

SVP of Halverson
Some decisions are easy. Some are painstakingly hard. The rest fall somewhere in between. Where do your category and brand fit in? Knowing will allow you to influence the consumer decision. Halverson Group can help you find out.
Consumer trying to choose between products

What’s the Hubbub?

Jeff Daniel

Jeff Daniel

SVP of Integrated Connections
Apple, namely Tim Cook, has been talking about the need for transparency around data collected on consumers and to give consumers control over whether they want data collected about them or not...
Digital data security

Making Pandemic Lemonade

Christopher Wolf

Christopher Wolf

SVP of Insights
It will take many years to assess and mourn the devastating and lasting effects Covid is having on our collective mental, physical and economic health. But we can already begin to understand the ways the hospitality industry has adapted for the better and created new opportunity,directly as a result of the crippling lockdowns that laid waste to so many businesses and livelihoods in the past year...

What Wall Street Wants

LeAnne Garoutte

LeAnne Garoutte

General Manager
Double-digit profits. YOY growth. Higher ROI…
Bullseye target on a laptop computer

What Content is Right When?

Sharyl Syring

Sharyl Syring

Media Supervisor
You’ve heard it a million times: content is king. That’s not going to change anytime soon. That means to remain relevant marketers are moving away from pushing products and toward illustrating solutions…
Woman illustrated creating content on a computer

Top 5 Reasons Operators Sign Up for E-Newsletters

Sharyl Syring

Sharyl Syring

Media Supervisor
The eternal question for foodservice manufacturers stands: how do I meaningfully reach the operator? Well-worn answers like print ads and DSR visits—though still relevant—are no longer the obvious answers…
Mail illustration on top of a digital tablet

Mini Millennials: Meet Gen Alpha

Jennifer Cannon

Jennifer Cannon

Research and Insights
Move over Centennials… Generation Alpha is on the scene! Born starting in 2010 through today, they are the children of Millennials. While Generation Alpha makes up only 12.5% of the population today – and are only ten years old, they will continue to grow in numbers and impact over the coming years…
Millennial couple and their daughter

Is Content the Way to the Wallet?

Meredith Daca

Meredith Daca

Senior Culinary Planner
For decades, there was a widespread notion that persisted in the food industry—all new ethnic flavor imports needed to be “Americanized” so hesitant palates could warm up to the unfamiliar…
Opened wallet in front of a computer

Connect with DSRs, Connect with Operators

Christopher Wolf

Christopher Wolf

SVP of Insights
“Foodservice has changed dramatically over the last decade”. It seems like an obvious statement, but to put the shifts into perspective, let’s go back to 2009 and see how many menus call out “farm-to-table” ingredients…
Handshake illustration

Can Recipes Really Boost Your Product Sales?

Thomas Talbert

Thomas Talbert

VP of Culinary Marketing
Keeping the menu fresh is one of an operator’s most important roles. And providing recipe inspiration is one of yours as a partner. By demonstrating your product’s versatility, your recipes can show time-starved operators how one ingredient can work in multiple items across the menu—benefitting operators and you—with increased sales.…
Chef mixing ingredients into a bowl

Artificial Intelligence for Marketers

Brad Hill

Brad Hill

VP of Digital and Technology
As a marketer, you know the importance of content. That’s not changing any time soon. Back in 2014, we saw content-first design hit peak momentum. Then mobile-first design came on the scene, which is still widely considered the best practice for digital marketing. Then, Google shifted the conversation toward experience.…
Human brain connected to computer screens

A Marketing Approach: Division vs. Brand

Jeff Daniel

Jeff Daniel

SVP of Integrated Connections
Most of the communication planning requests we get are tied to promotion of a particular brand or product, which makes sense – that’s where the sales happen. This approach, however, tends to isolate each brand plan, not allowing the company to take advantage of bigger, more integrated opportunities…
Person deciding which door to enter

7 Flavors to Suggest in Your Next Innovation Brainstorm

Meredith Daca

Meredith Daca

Senior Culinary Planner
I bet this has happened to you. You’re in a brainstorm and someone sets up the challenge like, “We need to come up with new tortilla chip flavors: shoot.” Suddenly, you feel like a deer in headlights. It may be the case that you frequently hear about up-and-coming flavors, but you’re not sure if the time is right. Or maybe flavor trends are off your radar altogether…
7 Flavors to Suggest in Your Next Innovation Brainstorm

4 Ways to Tell if Your Website Is Operator-Friendly

Stephanie Lueck

Stephanie Lueck

Senior Digital Marketing Specialist
Almost all foodservice manufacturers have some kind of web presence. But how do you know if yours truly meets the needs of operators? To find out what they’re looking for, our team at the Marlin Network has interviewed a diverse panel of operators and taken a look at what’s happening in the larger digital universe to compile some must-have features…
Happy illustrated people building a website
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For brands that are going places.

From daily coffee stops to weekend lunch capades to once-in-a-lifetime vacations, consumers are always on the go. Brands that meet them where they are with the products, services and experiences that delight will win. Marlin Network is a destinations marketing agency that understands where guests are going, what makes them stay and what brings them back for more.



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