Home - First The Trousers
Outsmart your competition and realize your brand’s full potential
Innovation & Growth
Identification of new growth opportunities & new product white spaces
Brand Positioning & Storytelling
Creation of compelling positioning platforms and brand stories
Consumer Insights
Identification of most promising consumer segments & brand building consumer insights
Brand Engagement
Development of customer journeys and communication strategies

Welcome to First The Trousers Then The Shoes Inc.

First The Trousers Then The Shoes Inc. (First The Trousers or FTT for short) is a brand strategy, research, and innovation boutique dedicated to helping brands compete and grow in today’s always evolving attention economy. We believe in always combining analytic rigor with creative problem solving while staying wholly focused on the desired objectives and business results. We help uncover fresh and actionable insights that trigger action, identify innovative ideas to stimulate brand growth and inspire fresh perspectives on businesses and categories.

What Our Clients Say

“Ulli’s knowledge of the lottery industry as well as his background working with large packaged goods portfolios made him uniquely qualified to partner with the Hoosier Lottery. Using human motivations and need states to organize and differentiate game portfolios helped the Lottery brand increase player relevancy, engagement and ultimately revenue for the state of Indiana.”

Vice President of Player Engagement, Gaming Industry

FTT helped us evolve Angel’s Envy brand positioning and the Positioning-Roulette methodology was a good reminder that often “tried and true” is the best method when approached creatively. This all-encompassing approach had us explore every positioning option without bias, and with Ulli’s guidance allowed us to distill the ideas into a truly unique place in this increasingly cluttered category.

Managing Director, Spirits Company

Ulli and the First the Trousers team helped us with a fresh approach to create a compelling story for a new (global) product through a Positioning-Roulette workshop. Positioning Roulette proved to be a very effective method to explore all potential options to build a clear and distinctive brand and product message to conquer customer loyalty and new customers. Ulli’s experience and enthusiasm to prepare the workshop and then moderate the discussions was the icing on the cake. Very recommendable! 

Global Product Marketing Manager, Global Healthcare Industry

Ulli (and the FTT team) has a clear passion and knack for positioning work.  He also is very skilled at building relationships and leading/moderating discussions.  The Positioning Roulette methodology led to a deep team discussion and new insights around how to optimize our brand positioning and also gave the team confidence that we had explored all potential options.  I would highly recommend Ulli and look forward to working with him again.

Marketing & Innovation Director, Leading CPG company

Ulli and his team are thoughtful, thorough and caring. They do a wonderful job of listening, understanding and gathering info to help capture the essence of the brand (or it’s aspiration) and then checks it against the real world. FTT has helped us find a clarity that we’d been searching for.

C.E.O., Healthcare Industry

Ulli always comes in with great thinking and prepared.  No matter the project, he always adds new ideas and thoughts that spur the team into a better place.  His style is terrific – he elevates the thinking in a personable way – everyone wants to work with him.  And no better compliment than that!

Chief Strategy Officer, Advertising Agency

Ulli Appelbaum and the First the Trousers team helped us think differently about our product portfolio and the category. Ulli brought research and product planning methodologies that changed the paradigm….By looking at our products from the consumer perspective, we were able to harness the power of human emotions and need states to make our business more relevant and more profitable. With Ulli’s assistance, we will be making dynamic changes to the current portfolio while launching new innovations in the next fiscal year.

VP of Marketing and Product Innovation, Gaming Industry

Engaging Ulli and his team at First The Trousers for some specialized category analysis was a very rewarding and profitable experience. The insights gleaned from the research his group conducted for us were sound, actionable, and intriguing. We walked away from the project with a new perspective on a rather mature portfolio of products. Working with the group was also a pleasure. Ulli and his colleagues were collaborative and extremely accessible – there was a strong sense of partnership during each phase of the project and we look forward to continuing a relationship with this consultancy group in the future. 

Senior Director of Advertising and Retail, Gaming Industry

We recently brought in First the Trousers to work with us on a significant new business pitch. Ulli and his team painted a picture of our prime prospect that was thoughtful and rich in texture. Everything from idiosyncratic behaviors to core beliefs, they dug deep, uncovering consumer insights that provided our creative team with a solid strategic platform to build upon. FTT is a highly collaborative group with impressive agency credentials. They’re the ones I want to have on my side when it matters most.

Executive Creative Director, Advertising Agency

We retained Ulli and his team to help identify what attributes of our brand story would be most compelling at point of sale. The learnings from the research allowed us to elevate our POS material to the next level and continue to improve our in-store marketing effectiveness. Subsequent to our research project, Ulli and his team have continued to be a valued resource to me in matters of marketing and brand strategy.  I find Ulli and his team to be responsive, insightful, and highly organized. I recommend them anytime and will likely hire them again.

Serial Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO, New Premium Vodka Brand.

I invited Ulli Appelbaum, founder of marketing consultancy First-The-Trousers-Then-The-Shoes, to do a 30-minute presentation on interactive advertising trends at La Fleur’s 2015 Lottery Conclave & Interactive Summit in Orlando in December 2015. Ulli was a pro! He has an easy way with an audience that draws attendees into the topic. He also “builds” a good presentation by keeping it fast-moving and strategic. I give him an A+ as a presenter

President & CEO, TLF Publications, Inc.

“ Since the very first beginning of the project, Ulli was able to perceive the singularities of our business, and not less important, the opportunities we had as a company if we faced change as a way to position ourselves and our brands for a successful and bright future. The way Ulli organized and moderated the final workshop shows his wonderful skills in keeping everyone, sometimes with totally different vision, thinking the big picture and focusing the main problems”

Global Category Manager, Global Biotech Company


Our Promise

  • Focus on strategy, not executions (Trousers first)
  • Rigorous and data driven in our approach, yet highly creative in our problem solving
  • We always provide a fresh perspective, we are contrarians
  • Our working style is very cooperative
  • We are nimble, with global reach
  • No buzz words, no attitude, no BS