Gallo Dark Horse – Modesto, California

For challenger brands, even those supported by iconic winemaker E & J Gallo, grocery stores present particularly, well, challenging conditions. Beyond the normal 50,000 products lining the shelves, you have to reach shoppers who are, on average, moving at an impatient 3 MPH and giving products a scant 3 seconds to connect. All of which prompted the Modesto-based company to call on EMPATH to collaborate with their internal creative team and external agency to jumpstart the launch of the new Dark Horse line. After a rigorous look at applicable consumer psychology and trends, as well as multiple store visits, one thing became clear: the brand, as initially conceptualized, simply wasn’t achieving enough registration to break through. The simple, highly effective, first step: giving talented internal creatives a new customer-centric design lexicon along with better ways to visualize real world requirements.

“Seeing is believing. Seeing clearly is understanding.”


After its successful launch, Dark Horse went on to become a favorite off-premise brand in both the US and the United Kingdom—where it’s now also grown into a category-shifting premium-priced option.

  • Brand Empathics Investigation—combining deep analysis of wine shopper behavior and competitive trend data, 30 store visits in a number of key geographies, and customer experience mapping.
  • Empathy-led Creativity and Innovation Workshops—engaging internal and external creatives in problem-solving.
  • Development of a new in-office visualization methodology—including ways to evaluate how products would appear in store.
  • Creative direction and design inspiration.

Uncover your brand innovation

The marketing world is rich in data, analytics, and technology. But to get the real benefit of that wealth of information, you need something entirely human—that rare quality called empathy. Because the real goal isn’t just to see your brand, marketing, and operational opportunities. It’s feeling the full scope of what’s possible. Ready for EMPATH?

Contact Us