December 6, 2018
Audience Engagement

Capitalize on Consumer Tension: How Brands Discover Untapped Markets via Consumer Behavior

How Brands Discover Untapped Markets via Consumer Behavior

For most people, the word “tension” brings up unpleasant thoughts of shoulder pain or family drama. For Dave Finnegan, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Orvis, “tension” -- and making it go away -- is the key to big profits.

The concept is simple and straightforward: Create things that solve everyone’s problems. Consumers are willing to spend good money on stuff that’ll make their lives easier; look at the cost of smartphones and plane tickets. We adhere to this overarching concept at Industry Weapon, and your company probably does, too.That’s why we were completed on board when Dave laid out that same school of thought during the Orvis Company’s Business Impact Workshop. His uniquely innovative, completely fresh take on a long-known strategy really resonated with us as both creators and consumers.

Why Real Consumer Tension Still Goes Undetected

Have you ever watched a late-night infomercial and the voiceover says something ridiculous like, “Finally: Now you can stop slicing off your fingers every time you use a butter knife!” That’s an example of a product that just exists for the sake of existing. It doesn’t legitimately solve any issues in your life. A lot of products are like that -- they try to convince you that you need them.

In contrast, a truly quality product doesn’t need to persuade customers to pull out their credit card. It speaks for itself, and it helps us reconcile issues that are interrupting our lives, causing undue stress.


Like all art forms, there is a simple complexity in realizing customer pain points. As Dave explained, the deepest tensions in life are the ones we don’t realize are plaguing us. They become so ingrained in our routines that we don’t pause to say: Wait, this is a recurring issue. I’ve been through this before. Tuning into to those requires a bird’s-eye-view and societal intuition.

Exploiting the Age Old Customer Pain Points

The Orvis team capitalized on a question that has chronically pained shoppers since the dawn of retail -- What do I buy dad for Father’s Day? As a country, we’ve been celebrating Father’s Day since 1909. That means that for more than a hundred years, dads have been feigning enthusiasm over lame gifts because no brand bothered to research what these men genuinely want. It was, weirdly enough, an untapped market.

This isn’t an easy tension to resolve. The product and marketing teams had to really strategize the solution. They ultimately focused on the universal principle that all dads appreciate quality time with their kids. Orvis is able to provide products that enhance that quality time. In essence, the gift is so much more than just an item purchased at the store: it’s a catalyst to bond with dad.

Without being gimmicky or contrived, Orvis came up with a practical solution to a long-held problem. And customers responded in turn.

The Father’s Day initiative produced big numbers for Orvis’ gross profits. There are plenty of other metrics to consider when weighing the success of a campaign, but Dave made clear that the one figure he relies on is gross profit. The team monitors that number on a daily basis. It’s targeted and goal-oriented, and it reflects back the effectiveness of their strategies.

Life is full of tensions big and small. Find one that speaks to you -- one that you truly want to resolve. And just like a good product, the payoff will speak for itself.

To learn more about how the Orvis Company uses consumer tension, watch Episode Two of our Business Impact Workshop.