Great product, great promotion, and… great problems

Great product, great promotion, and… great problems


Applied Biosystems develops and manufactures the range of scientific instrumentation used by DNA researchers. One of their lower-priced devices to read DNA, the 2400, was used primarily in university research labs. Its features and reliability outpace all competitors, yet it was steadily, and inexplicably, losing marketshare.

To resuscitate sales, AB decided on a promotion. They would bundle the 2400 with AB’s new line of popular chemical reagents. The promotional price would be less than the sum of its parts and labs would be getting the best instrument and reagents on the market. With great expectations, the salesforce began to call their customers that afternoon.

The result – sales fell even faster. Customers and stomachs were churning. Some real alchemy was needed to figure this out and turn it around.


While AB products were liked as much as AB believed, we were able to uncover three important clues to their woes in our exploratory interviews.

First, researchers were turned off by the bundling of the 2400 with reagents. It didn’t fit with the culture of their prospects. “I decide what reagents I use, not you. I’m the scientist.”

While the 2400 was seen as best-in-class, it is also the most expensive. Asking for more money was dismissed as ridiculous. University research budgets had been on a steady decline and coughing up more budget – even for a good deal – was untenable.

Further complicating matters was a decline in customer affinity for AB. The labs appreciated the AB reps, but could never get hold of them – the reps were always in the field servicing bigger accounts. This latest faux pas was just more evidence that AB didn’t understand them any longer.


Using prospect persona insights, we helped AB understand that their bundled offer was out of synch and frustrating to labs. As a result, it was discontinued immediately, freeing resources and saving customer relationships.

An in-depth understanding of the labs’ purchase journey provoked AB to offer flexible payment schedules that corresponded to their customers’ annual

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