Happen: billion dollar FMCG drinks challenge

Written by Martin Lucas

Happen Group is a global innovation company focussing on global projects which raise innovation success rates for businesses serving global, crowded consumer markets. They do this by pairing unmet consumer needs with commercially viable solutions.

They called us into to work on a billion-dollar FMCG company who wanted investigate creating a custom drinks ordering service for consumers - your own flavour of soft drink or a specially brewed lager - that kind of stuff. Here is what the Happen MD for the Netherlands, Joris, has to say:

“The challenge was to get more context around a number of trend-driven ‘opportunity’ platforms.”

Joris and his team came up with a really interesting challenge; they asked us to split our modelling based on three areas:

Fluid Experiences - Why do people need everything RIGHT NOW and how to embrace this change in consumer behaviours.

New Frontiers - Are people open to ‘new’ and, if so, what are the things to be aware of that would make it a winning solution.

Makers Mindset - Is there an appetite for personalised drinks? Can we find points of proof in the wider world?

We love working with Happen as it is complex, big business and leverages all 12 parts of our <HOW>. Although complex, it is a lot of fun. We would love to share all the aspects of our discovery but to be practical we’ve selected three key areas from our findings which relate to you - the human - and how we engage with products, what we look at, and WHY.


This is how the consumer decides whether to try something new or not; it’s mainly an unconscious decision-making process and we dove into the full details of why and how this works to create the magic spot in the middle which represents consumer - and thus, retail -  nirvana.

We also analysed the key things to be aware of when considering what personalisation really is:


Personalisation is what it sounds like yet this is often misunderstood in the world; unless the consumer feels that a product or service this is really designed for their needs and they the company really cares about them, then - and only then - do they give you their trust and loyalty. These are both factors that the business world often struggles to understand because they’re generated by feelings and not by practical actions.

We also evaluated the risk of ‘new and here to stay’ vs a fad, and that’s a very fine line to walk, particularly when dealing with taste and temptation. Honestly, this was so much fun to explore, mainly because with these types of projects it’s about the product, the person and how to create what the other desires. Fun, fun, fun. Science is awesome!

So far, we’ve been sharing a lot of the science of psychology of the consumer’s mind, and here is what Joris has to say about it:

“The psychological layer made the platforms more robust. The effort, time and value equation was quite interesting. Helped show there were strong ‘human’ drivers behind them.”

Joris Westerman, MD Netherlands, Happen

What about behaviours? How does that play its part, specifically when we are dealing with new concepts?


This is a great example of the adoption curve explaining how to change behaviours and create engagement in phases of user adoption. Cool, right?!

How did you feel about the outcome, Joris?

“Happy! As part of the bigger story, it served a clear purpose.”

Joris Westerman, MD Netherlands, Happen

Excellent! We love to take on the complex and make it simple and actionable. We love this kind of problem solving - bring it on!