Case Study: How Consumer Insights Helped Terviva Refine Its Messaging Before Launch

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Terviva is a food innovator that makes Ponova™ oil, protein and flour derived from the climate-resilient pongamia tree. The company is on a mission to plant millions of pongamia trees to feed billions of people. But first they needed to understand how their products resonate with consumers and what attributes to highlight. 

“We were all brought to this company with highly aligned missions and values. We believe there’s a better way to produce food which can positively impact the planet, and that people care about how their food is grown. We needed to see if consumers felt the same way.” – Chris Quevedo, Terviva Head of Enterprise Sales

In this case study, we’ll discuss how Terviva partnered with Moonshot Collaborative to obtain critical insights from one of their key target audiences – plant-based buyers. 


The Challenge

Most entrepreneurs and startup leaders can quickly rattle off a laundry list of reasons why their unique product or service is better than the competition. But there’s a risk of telling consumers nothing (or losing their attention) if you try to tell them everything about your product. For a mission-driven company like Terviva that prioritizes sustainability, the question was whether or not consumers share the same values and priorities. And because Ponova™ is new to the market, Terviva needed to understand how to talk about it in ways that resonate with consumers. 

“In our business model, we sell primarily to food manufacturers, but it became very apparent that we needed to bridge the gap with how our products would be perceived by consumers.” – Chris Quevedo

This is the power of research. Terviva knew that they could ask their social media followers, friends, and family members what they think, but they wanted insights that were unbiased and reliable. Setting up their own consumer panel was even more daunting, so they turned to Moonshot Collaborative to get in-depth and tailored results through our standing panel of pre-vetted and deeply profiled plant-based buyers. 


The Solution

True to their passion for delicious and sustainable food, Terviva identified a dozen positive attributes for their Ponova™ oil they wanted to test with consumers. After a deep discussion of Terviva’s needs and the research options available, we selected a “MaxDiff” survey design. Short for “maximum difference” scaling, this approach is able to reliably show how consumers implicitly rank a large set of features or attributes. 

“We wanted to know, what do consumers care about? What matters to them the most? We were able to rank and stack the attributes which resonated with consumers the most. This was very illuminating as we were looking to launch our brand.” – Chris Quevedo 

Moonshot Collaborative fielded the MaxDiff survey with more than 500 members of our panel, which includes anyone who has purchased a plant-based product in the three months prior to signing up. The panel provided Terviva with an accessible audience that is pre-selected to be interested in both food and sustainability, but still represents about 40% of all U.S. adults. It was an ideal audience for early feedback on Ponova™ oil, representing a group that has shown more interest in health and sustainability than the general population.


The Results

The MaxDiff survey results provided Terviva with a clear, rank-ordered list of product attributes derived directly from consumer feedback. The top attribute was selected by participants as “most important” almost 50% more often than the second most important, which gave Terviva a clear point on which to anchor its messaging. The survey also identified which attributes were less important to consumers and should be deemphasized. 

Understanding how consumers prioritize culinary oil attributes was essential for Terviva, but the research went even further. By asking plant-based buyers about their current use of different types of oil and their interest in sustainable alternatives, we discovered which consumers were most likely to be motivated by the company’s products. From that, Terviva was able to both profile their target consumer and develop their messaging hierarchy.

As Terviva prepared to launch Ponova™ oil into the marketplace, they leveraged  the MaxDiff survey results to revamp the positioning language on their website and in their sales materials. The research gave them confidence about which product attributes to feature and what specific wording is most likely to resonate with their target audience. And the brilliant folks at Terviva know that there is always more research to do.  

“We’d work with Moonshot Collaborative again for consumer insights as they’ve been a great partner.” – Chris Quevedo


Our sincere thanks to Terviva and Chris Quevedo for participating in this case study.

Learn More

Get to know Terviva and learn more about Ponova™ food ingredients. 

Check out Moonshot Collaborative, our consumer panel, and our services for alt protein and sustainable companies. 

Moonshot Collaborative

Moonshot Collaborative is a consumer research firm that provides unparalleled access to thousands of plant-based and sustainability-minded shoppers to help you understand their purchase decisions and how you can appeal to them more effectively.