How We Brought the Consistent Nature of Root Candles to Life
Consumer Goods Manufacturing and Retail
To provide best-quality candles known for their complex, subtle fragrances and sophisticated color palettes
Make the 150-year-old brand relevant to a new generation of consumers
Root Candles is the nation’s oldest candle manufacturer in Medina, OH. Founded in 1869, the family-owned company has a loyal multigenerational following in an industry filled with many cheaper, lower-quality competitors. Despite steady sales, the company wanted to refresh the brand for a new generation. They wanted to highlight the aspects valued by consumers (subtle fragrances and sophisticated color palettes) and create opportunities for consumers to sample new products and product families through both traditional and new distribution channels. They asked Stuart McFaul to review their product line to see how they reconfigure their brand marketing program.
There were several parameters for the new effort.
- The new program had to be low-cost.
- No new products could be created and existing products or manufacturing systems in place could not be reengineered.
- The resulting strategies had to maintain or enhance the existing high-end cost of the products.
Stuart knew that Root’s program had to be based on the company’s consistent record of providing unique, high-end products. At the same time, he had to make the products accessible and affordable to new markets, especially younger consumers who might be more motivated by price than quality.
He designed a new marketing program for the company called Root LightStyle™. The marketing narrative maintained that Root’s 150-year record of serving consumers gave the company a unique insight into what consumers wanted today for their homes. To help them most easily discern what was best for them, LightStyle (a play on the word “lifestyle”) placed Root’s candles into six distinct lifestyle categories, such as Modern or Traditional. A simple quiz helped consumers determine their personal LightStyle and discover the associated candles that would best suit their taste. Then, taking a page from the cosmetics industry, Stuart created a “sampler box” of votives for each LightStyle which allowed consumers to try each candle to see which they liked best. From that experience, they could easily order new candles that suited their individual tastes.
These restrictions sparked inspiration for us. Within one week, we created a new marketing program for the company called LightStyle, which— through a simple in store test—allowed users to determine their decorating style and guided them to the Root candles that matched that style. The new program demanded no reengineering of the existing products or systems in place… only the creation of some new marketing collateral and enhancements to the company’s existing Web site.
From Root’s internal POV, the program worked because it only required very low-cost elements: an updated website, reasonably-priced packaging that incorporated existing inventory, and new marketing collateral.
The program was launched to great acclaim from sales reps, retailers and the media, which quickly sought out Root as the de facto source for candles for lifestyle and fashion shoots. New retail opportunities exploded, with the company receiving increased orders from its traditional base and non-traditional avenues opening up, such as the Borders™ book chain approaching Root to carry LightStyle sampler boxes in all their U.S. stores. The new retail opportunities were so significant that the company later opened its first standalone retail store, the first of a series to be opened across the United States.
The success led Root General Manager Bob Krulik to say “Stuart’s creative marketing approach blew us away. His approach has allowed us to see ourselves in a whole new way, creating new products, sales channels, media and business opportunities we had never imagined.” And Root LightStyle boxes have become the in-demand “goodie bag” gift for such awards shows as the Emmy Awards.
Within one week, we had created a new marketing program for the company called LightStyle, which – through a simple in-store test – allows users to determine their decorating style and guides them to the Root Candles that match that style. The new program demanded no reengineering of the existing products or systems in place – simply the creation of some new marketing collateral and enhancements to the company’s existing Web site.
Media coverage flowed, with the company getting attention from such major decorating and women’s lifestyle magazines as Life & Style, InStyle, RealSimple and iVillage. Through our efforts, Root has become the de facto candle supplier for photo shoots for top-tier magazines like Martha Stewart Living, ensuring Root is mentioned in almost every issue. The success of the new LightStyle program has led Root to introduce its first standalone retail store, the first of a series to be opened across the United States.