Editor's note: Elliot Savitzky is senior vice president at TRC Market Research. He can be reached at esavitzky@trcmarketresearch.com. Hannah Robbins served as fractional CMO for Spruce Haven Farms at the time of the project profiled in this article. She can be reached at hannahrobbins13@gmail.com.

Spruce Haven Farms (SHF) is a fourth-generation family farm and one of the largest farms in Upstate New York. Milk from its 2,000+ cows supplies some of the top brands in today’s competitive yogurt market. The family spent 20 years working on nutritional science to create a way to make cow feed that could improve the nutritional benefits of their cows’ milk, with the end goal of enhancing people's wellness and nutrition.

They entered a partnership with Finca Dos Marias, a coffee farm in Guatemala, and came up with the idea for a better-for-you cold brew coffee. SHF selected the whimsical name Cowffee based on input from friends and family. Given the founder and his stakeholders’ demographics (ages 60+) SHF felt that since Baby Boomers really need better nutrition and Baby Boomers are crazy about coffee, why wouldn’t Cowffee be a great idea? Spruce Haven would combine its healthy and nutritious milk with this coffee and Baby Boomers would love it. 

Well, it didn't quite work out as planned and we’ll shortly see why.

Research companies like TRC Market Research (TRC) often get calls from founders of small start-ups and entrepreneurs looking for help in furthering their cause. There are usually four things they all have in common: they have a quality product or service they are looking to sell; they do not have the skill set to take the product or service to market successfully; they are most often unwilling to change the way they are thinking about their business; and lastly, they don’t have the resources to conduct the proper research to develop that go-to-market (GTM) strategy. They also don’t know wh...