Insurgent brands are continuing to capture outsized share of growth in consumer products. In our research, we define these brands as those that outgrow their category by 10 times and have minimum sales of $25 million. While they account for just 2% to 3% of market share in the categories they have disrupted, they’ve captured 25% or more of the growth.
Insurgents do this by relying on a common playbook centered around delivering greater value to consumers. At their core, winning insurgent brands disrupt by offering superior products and experiences that fulfill a true consumer need, often with a strong founder-led story. Their front line is inspired by the belief in the brand’s ability to disrupt and deliver this value to consumers, making them more responsive to consumer feedback and empowered to act on it. This consumer centricity builds vocal communities of advocates actively engaged with the brand, enabling the brand to gain traction and create the proof points required to scale.
To understand what underpins a consumer’s perception of value, we test brands across 30 fundamental Elements of Value®, from lower to higher order benefits, that fall into four categories: functional, emotional, life-changing, and global impact (see Figure 1). Our latest research, in partnership with the market research firm Dynata, of more than 13,000 US consumers and nearly 75 brands across 10 consumer goods categories in the US, found that most consumer product brands deliver on elements of quality and sensory appeal, and many differentiate through other functional and emotional elements. However, few brands—under 5%—go beyond to deliver on the higher order life-changing and global impact elements.
Elements of Value measure brand purpose and how it resonates with consumers
Delivering more Elements of Value pays off—brands that deliver four or more elements increased revenues an average of three times the rate of those that delivered one or no attributes. Scoring higher near the top of the pyramid pays off even more—brands that score highest on life-changing and global impact elements grow at a rate nearly five times those who score lowest.
Insurgent brands, with a strong consumer-led purpose at their core, are not only outperforming incumbents by delivering more elements across the pyramid (see Figure 2). They are also achieving higher average scores on elements linked to sustainability (see Figure 3). Focusing on sustainability elements can deliver even greater results—insurgents that score well on environmental, well-being, and ethical elements, for example, grow at twice the rate of other insurgents.
Insurgents deliver on more and on ‘higher order’ elements than incumbents
Insurgent brands that score well on Sustainability Elements of Value outgrow competitors
The data also suggests that emerging insurgents (those with less than $100 million in revenues) are scoring higher across all levels of the pyramid than more established insurgents. This has implications for insurgent brands—communicating and delivering value gets harder as you scale. Understanding how to build and communicate with new audiences, and being thoughtful about channel expansion without compromising performance on the shelf, are at the core of the insurgent scaling model.