Our Specialties

Cooperatives and Franchises

Although many cooperatives and franchises may look like traditional corporations on the outside, those who have worked in this environment understand the unique challenges that face these organizations.

Liminality is a leader in assisting coops and franchises to enhance engagement with their members and their members' constituents. Our understanding of the business models and challenges of organizations operating in this niche gives us an edge in delivering results that address the needs of co-op and franchise management. We know how to talk to members and franchisees, what questions to ask, what not to say, and the kinds of things they are most likely to be interested in.

Our background in this area allows us to share our expertise with our clients. This provides valuable perspective and makes the results of research of their own members and markets all the more meaningful.

Liminality has worked with many types of cooperatives and franchises including wholesale purchasing, retail purchasing, consumer services, financial services and others. Our cooperative and franchisee clients have used us to accomplish monumental goals such as:

  • Measuring member/franchisee satisfaction
  • Identifying member wants and needs
  • Identifying and sharing best practices
  • Measuring levels of engagement
  • Creating messaging and branding to encourage a higher level of appreciation for the organization's value proposition
  • Conducting consumer research on behalf of members
  • Conducting research of cooperative/franchisee vendors

We include among our cooperative and franchisee clients many industry-leaders including CCA Global Partners, Ace Hardware Corporation, Capricorn Society Ltd, Health Mart, National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) and many others.

Higher Education

Colleges and universities are being squeezed on all sides—the costs of delivering quality education are rising, while government funding sources and the ability of the typical family to pay for their children's college educations is being strained.

Thriving in this environment is becoming more of a challenge for school officials. Marketing is more important than ever. A generation ago, many colleges and universities did not have a Vice Chancellor for Marketing or Director of Brand Strategy. Today it is the norm. Schools are competing for students, placements, donations, grants, and revenue.

In order to excel in this competitive environment, colleges and universities are finding it increasingly important to maintain ongoing dialogues with their constituents—students, alums, donors, potential employers, research partners, communities, industry, government, and others.

For many years, Liminality has helped colleges and universities to identify what methods are working best, what needs improvement and how to enhance the stature of their brands in the higher education marketplace. We have determined why employers recruit at some schools and not others, measured the effectiveness of distance learning courses, compared alumni perceptions of schools across generations, and determined how alma maters fare on the list of preferred donation recipients. Our work in this area has resulted in higher application rates, improvement in placement rates, and higher average donations.

Among our clientele in the higher education space are Case Western University, The New School, Northeastern University, Pace Law School, and the University of California ‐ Santa Cruz.

Retail/Consumer Goods and Services

In the days when Madison Avenue ruled, retailers calibrated their strategies based on what had already sold, rather than what customers wanted, needed or planned to buy in the future. Now, however, retailers must maintain dialogues with their store managers as well as the end consumer in order to be a step ahead of their competition. Social media has gone a long way to putting marketing executives in the same room with their customers and potential customers, but a lot of chatter on social media sites is too unstructured to form the basis of a solid strategy.

Liminality has armed many retailers and providers of consumer goods and services with a framework for conversations with retail managers and consumers. For example, for one retailer, we identified how four different segments of home furnishings consumers approached the buying process when making home improvements. This allowed our client to interject just the right messaging at just the right time in the marketing cycle.

For a manufacturer of bathroom fixtures, we identified the unique roles of both the distributor and the designer and how each contributes to the ultimate sale. As a result of our work, our client created distinct marketing programs for these two channels. For the world's largest educational travel company, Liminality identified what was most important to parents who were considering sending their children overseas on an international adventure. We were able to help our client put parents at ease before they began to bring up concerns about their children traveling abroad without them. This significantly improved parents approving the trip and reduced handling time for sales personnel.

Some of our customers in this segment are Ace Hardware, Carpet One, EF Educational Travel, Health Mart and Maax Tubs.

Product and Market Development

"Drill before you dig." That advice was given to a group of ambitious gold miners by a neighboring prospector. He advised them to find out exactly what was in the ground before investing time, fuel, and temperamental excavation equipment digging huge holes on a claim.

Similarly, most companies introducing new products or services know that it is prudent to find out exactly where the demand is, how large it is, and what methods are required to get the most "gold" for their investment.

Liminality uses every tool at its disposal to help organizations identify needs and size markets before major investments are made. Here are some examples:

A West Coast financial institution was considering launching a new service unlike any other on the market. Through telephone interviews, focus groups and industry analysis, Liminality helped identify the most important features and functions of the new service, the value that potential clients would place on the service, and design elements that were most appealing to potential users.

One of our business services customers was trying to determine how important it was to have a local presence on the East Coast as an alternative to just servicing their clients out of their Midwestern facility. We talked to their customers (and prospects) to find out what was important (and what didn't matter) when selecting a vendor.

An industrial manufacturing company was embarking on the development of its five-year plan. Reliable market share data was not readily available and although our client suspected they knew their market position, they were not positive. Liminality successfully completed a research study to identify not only the current installed base of each of the company's competitors, but also future purchasing plans, brands being considered and the most desired features being sought.

Among the companies for whom we have done product and service development work are Anthurium Solutions, Nosco, Silicon Valley Bank and Vac-Con.