Companies must get comfortable with finding growth in uncomfortable places.

Uncomfortable Places are opportunities that companies practicing business as usual generally cannot see, reach, afford or do. The Kantar Consulting W.H.O.L.E  Demand Framework articulates five key commercial principles that can help companies successfully manage the challenges of uncomfortable places by identifying critical things to do differently, by creating new demand and business models, and by investing in and optimizing smarter ways of operating.


Challenge: I can’t see it

Oftentimes, companies are not growing or are growing more slowly than their categories because small, niche brands are better attuned to the shifts in demand that are the hotspots of growth. Incumbent businesses just don’t see what’s happening. Not only because they are blind to the opportunity but more often because they are blind to the significance of the opportunity.

Solution: Employ a wide angle lens

  • A wide-angle lens enables companies to see a more expansive definition of category or consumer need-states.
  • It puts a frame on this view that provides commercial focus
  • A wide-angle lens scales the area of focus so that smaller opportunities don’t look bigger than they really are simply because they dominate the telephoto lens that companies tend to bring to their specific lines of business.

Challenge: I Can’t Reach it

Even if an opportunity can be identified, efforts to create or capture that demand will feel uncomfortable unless consumers or shoppers are effectively engaged and converted.  Companies must reach consumers and shoppers in a language that is native to people in the platforms and outlets of their choosing.

Solution: Utilize a human-centric approach

Reach is best achieved through a human-centric approach that meets people where they want to be, not where a company would prefer them to be. Strategies should be built around lifestyles, not consuming or shopping.


Challenge:  I can’t afford it

One of the most common objections to investing in uncomfortable places is that financial and other resources spent there won’t generate as much return as resources spent in more comfortable places.

Solution: Optimize for value

Companies should create joined-up networks of tools and data-driven dashboards that facilitate faster, more flexible decision-making. Money saved should be reinvested in growth.


Challenge: I can’t do it

When a child says, “I can’t do it,” parents are quick to recognize what this means. Sometimes, it reflects a legitimate lack of ability. Other times, it reflects fear because a child simply hasn’t done something before. And sometimes, a child just doesn’t want to do it. Unfortunately, companies are awkward in all of these ways when it comes to uncomfortable places.

Solution: Get learning obsessed

The way for companies to get past fear and to get comfortable with new skills is to become learning-obsessed. Companies must get better at rapid iterative learning, such as algorithmic machine learning that can do real-time data interpretation wired to execution and operations. Individuals must be better trained with the skills needed to work in uncomfortable places. And organizations must embrace process redesign to ensure that knowledge reaches and precedes decisions in a timely, effective way.


Be Experience-Centric

Experience are what is driving the growth in value and consumer spending. This is also what emerges when companies master the critical skills of operating in uncomfortable places. Brands and shopping become experiences that will create and convert demand, giving companies the confidence and rationale to continue seeing, reaching, affording and doing what it takes to succeed in uncomfortable places.


To learn more about W.H.O.L.E Demand and getting comfortable in uncomfortable places, download The Uncomfortable States of Opportunity or view our on-demand webinar, The Uncomfortable States of America.

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