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This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 14, 1999. All rights
Segmentation Secrets: Rosetta Group
Three influences — pressure from Wall Street, data
availability, and computing power — are converging to encourage
marketing executives to be very precise in developing marketing strategies,
says Christopher Kuenne, president and founder of the Rosetta Marketing
Strategies Group. The one-year-old knowledge-based marketing firm
has taken space in the Carnegie Center in the same suite as one of
its owners, Nelson Communications, the New York-based marketing services
company that has three advertising agencies. With 4,500 square feet
leased, Rosetta has eight fulltime employees and expects to hire seven
As the name of the firm indicates, the Rosetta Group’s strategy refers
to the principle used by J.F. Champollion and other scholars to decipher
Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Rosetta Stone, which Napoleon’s troops
discovered in 1799 and which now resides in the British Museum, had
been inscribed by priests of Ptolemy V in three languages — hieroglyphic,
demotic, and Greek. Scholars used the two languages they did know
to devise the code for the language they did not know.
In a similar way Kuenne’s firm has figured out a way to translate
insights about the consumer to develop a deeper understanding of the
consumer’s decision-making process and come up with very precise marketing
strategies. "Our model is to understand the structure of a consumer
category (toothpastes or cholesterol reducers for instance). We study
three dimensions — needs, attitudes, and behaviors — and with
these three views we get an idea of how the market works. Most segmentation
structures are based on only one of the dimensions."
The Rosetta approach was born from studying a range of industries;
broadbased understanding accelerates the learning. It works across
a wide range of industries, such as the pharmaceutical, telecommunications,
retail banking and financial services, and consumer packaged goods
Rosetta Marketing Strategies Group specializes in working with consumer
categories that are highly competitive and complex but where growth
is stagnating, such as over-the-counter preparations; and also with
fast-growing categories such as cholesterol-controlling drugs. The
group’s clients include Johnson and Johnson, Procter and Gamble, Coca
Cola, Merrill Lynch, J&J Merck (a joint venture for Pepsid AC and
Mylanta), SmithKline Beecham, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and McNeil.
The strategy is to increase the brand’s share of usage within a household,
says Kuenne, and this might mean encouraging a consumer who buys one
particular brand, say five out of ten times, to buy the same brand
more times. The focus is not on getting the consumer to use more cough
drops, but on getting the consumer to use more of the cough drop brand.
"We have fancy math — a proprietary process and algorithm
that combines information from marketing and psychology — that
allows us to analyze the three dimensions," says Kuenne. "Consumers
can have the same attitude but different underlying needs and very
"We are sorting through to find patterns across a thousand variables.
Algorithms give us the ability to sort through an enormous amount
of data and give alternative solutions," says Kuenne. "From
a marketing standpoint, any one solution may or may not make any sense."
It requires marketing experience just to select the right outputs
from the algorithm, and that underneath all the market research must
be a layer of psychology. "It is tempting to accept what the black
box tells you, but we work hard to ask `Does this make sense?’ from
a human experience and from a marketing standpoint?"
Kuenne (rhymes with beanie) spent 10 years in marketing management
at Johnson & Johnson, and was a partner at First Manhattan Consulting
Group, leading the firm’s retail marketing practice. He majored in
history at Princeton, Class of 1985, and has an MBA from Harvard Business
Kuenne and his wife, Leslie, a genetic counselor, have three children,
including new baby Will and four-year-old Peter. Their eldest, Olivia,
died in a freak accident two years ago, and this loss fueled Kuenne’s
entry into entrepreneurship; part of the profits from Rosetta Marketing
Strategies Group will go to a charitable foundation that bears Olivia’s
name. The foundation aims to honor Olivia’s love of art and will provide
materials for young children to develop their imaginations.
Vice president Kurt E. Holstein and his wife, Jennie, and their two
school-age daughters have relocated to Princeton from Cincinnati.
After majoring in operations research and industrial engineering at
Cornell, Class of 1982, he worked for Procter & Gamble for 16 years
in jobs ranging from line marketing to marketing director of P&G pharmaceuticals.
Typically, a marketer’s career path involves going back to school
for an MBA. But Holstein’s father had been a professor at Harvard
Business School and is now dean of the business school at State University
of New York at Albany, and the ivory tower of academe held less promise
than the real world: "We used to help grade my father’s exams,
and the thought of going back to school and paying $30,000 a year,
when I was having a great time at P&G," says Holstein, seemed
nonproductive. After all, many of the textbook examples for marketing
classes emanate from Procter & Gamble.
Kuenne has also made a connection with his father’s work. He is the
son of a noted economics professor at Princeton who devised an oligopoly
theory to study competition in a structured market. "The essence
of what he was working on and what we do is very similar," says
Kuenne. "Dad was studying economic systems in theory, and we are
studying them in practice. I seek Dad’s advice on a regular basis."
"In an oligopoly, the economic systems seek a point of equilibrium
of tacit collaboration to move the oligopoly forward but not put competitors
out of business," says Kuenne, using the OPEC nations’ strategy
as an example. "We do the opposite. We seek to build our client’s
business very much at the expense of competition."
Center, Suite 202, Princeton 08540-6235. Christopher B. Kuenne, president.
609-514-1149; fax, 609-514-1158.
Rosetta is just one of the pharmaceutical service companies
under the umbrella of Nelson Communications, sometimes known as NCI.
A Princeton resident, Thomas Moore, is president and chief executive
officer of the firm that was founded 11 years ago by Wayne Nelson,
an alumnus of Johnson & Johnson and Unilever. Most of the company
is in Manhattan at 41 Madison Avenue. In Princeton NCI has offices
at Carnegie Center and on Lenox Drive.
Like its competitors, Nelson Communications has formed several dozen
smaller firms with different skills to handle conflict of interest
issues. But unlike other firms, it tries to house each group in a
separate building or suite. "A lot of companies put up partitions,"
says John Iannuzzi, CFO of Nelson Professional Sales. "We actually
NCI at Carnegie Center
103 Carnegie Center, Suite 106, Princeton 08540. Cheryl Shipley Coyle,
senior vice president. 609-452-0101; fax, 609-452-2383. Home page:
Eighteen people here share a suite with Clinical Solutions and do
public relations for healthcare and biotechnology companies.
Carnegie Center, Suite 106, Princeton 08540. Cheryl Shipley Coyle,
president and COO. 609-243-0110; fax, 609-452-2383. Home page:
Clinical Solutions is a subsidiary of Sciens Worldwide Public Relations;
it specializes in accelerating patient enrollment and optimizing patient
retention in clinical trials.
Princeton 08540. Steven R. Peskin, president. 609-452-9666; fax, 609-452-7888.
This wholly owned subsidiary of Nelson Communications was founded
in 1995 to provide strategies and tactics on managed care operations
and marketing to pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Princeton 08540. Susan Lavine Coleman, president. 609-520-1444; fax,
Nelson Communications moved this division from the third floor at
214 Carnegie to the first floor at the end of last year. It does strategic
and marketing consulting and research for pharmaceutical and healthcare
consumer products companies.
Suite 101, Princeton 08540. Nancy Barnett, president. 609-987-9606;
fax, 609-987-1033. Home page: http://www.nci.com.
The healthcare advertising agency at 202 Carnegie has 30 employees
that serve major pharmaceutical clients.
Suite 101, Princeton 08540. Patrick Chenot, president. 609-514-2727;
The medical publishing and continuing medical education division was
started in 1997 and has four employees.
Suite 101, Princeton 08540. 609-987-8855; fax, 609-9897-1033.
NCI at Lenox Drive
Suite 104, Princeton 08540. Lori A. Katz, vice president. 609-219-0838;
fax, 609-452-1454. Home page: http://www.nci.com.
Sciens Worldwide Advertising is one of 44 companies that provide healthcare
communications to the pharmaceutical industry under the Nelson Communications
umbrella. Part of this division moved out of New York City in 1997
to be in the heart of the pharmaceutical industry, and its Lenox Drive
office has 10 employees doing full-service health care communications
and integrated marketing communications programs.
4, Suite 103, Princeton 08648. Christy Taylor, group chairman. 609-219-0081;
Thirty-five people in this 11-year-old division do full-service health
care communications and marketing communications.
— Barbara Fox
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