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Think Big and Connect to the Max


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ESOMAR Paper on our Consumer Consulting Board project for PepsiCo Turkey

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Think Big and Connect to the Max

  1. 1. What to expect? PepsiCo wanted to (re)connect the Ruffles brand with the Turkish youth. For six weeks a ‘Market Research Online Community’ (or ‘Consumer Consulting Board’) was the central hub in which the dialogue between Gen Y, the Ruffles brand team and the advertising agencies of PepsiCo took place. In three sequential stages we moved from generating insights into Turkish youth’s everyday life and their aspirations over testing and fine-tuning activation platforms and campaigns to creating an understanding of the role of social media in brand activation today. To enhance decision making, we wanted to connect all stakeholders to a maximum extent with the target group. To realize that, we created several touch points between the consumer world (the research results) and the business world (the marketing team and their objectives) while sharing our research results: online and offline consumer immersion exercises with all stakeholders, intermediate debriefs and workshops, a creative brainstorming session and a live chat session with members of the community during that brainstorm. This paper gives insights into the power of using research communities to deeply understand a target group and in the value of ‘triangulation’in qualitative research (tackling the same issue from different angles and with different eyes). It also illustrates how creating several touch points between the consumer world and the business world can deliver bigger impact on marketing thinking.
  2. 2. Let’s reconnect! Ruffles, a PepsiCo brand, wanted to (re)connect with the younger generation in Turkey as the brand faced two big challenges: fighting a crowded online branded space and finding the right brand position for the brand, against other brands within the crisps category - both from competitors and PepsiCo itself (Lay’s and Doritos) - and other snack categories (e.g. nuts). Turkish Gen Y is very proud of their Turkish background and really value successful Turkish companies and their heritage. Despite the global economic crisis, youth in Turkey acknowledge an increasingly prominent role of their country in economic and political world play. It is a positive and individually empowered generation but at the same time a very social and ‘we’-oriented group with friends as ‘dynamic’ and parents as ‘static’ anchor points. Ruffles’ “Live life to the most” brand platform had the right potential to connect with this ambitious Turkish young generation, but the real question was how to translate this slogan into a relevant and differing positioning as well as an online and offline brand activation strategy. The research project’s aim was to link Turkish Gen Y’s context and lifestyle to the Ruffles product experience and brand image and detect the ideal roads for further brand development.
  3. 3. Empowering Generation Y Generation Y, aka the ‘Millennials’ (born in the 80s and in the first half of the 90s), is the ultimate product of our postmodern society. Gen Y wants everything at the same time and wants it right here, right now. They are more engaged than previous generations. They strongly voice their opinions and want to act upon their ideas. They feel empowered to change the world themselves. Being born in a society that celebrates individual success and stimulates them to become unique and special, they claim the ownership of their own lives in every single aspect. GenYers are more marketing-savvy and will immediately see through fake marketing strategies. ‘Directness’, ‘transparency’, ‘authenticity’ and ‘closeness’ are what they expect from the brands they embrace (Van den Bergh & Behrer, 2013).
  4. 4. All of this clearly affects the way marketing, branding and research targeting this new consumer group should evolve. In order to succeed in our mission to deeply understand Turkish youth and what they expect from Ruffles as a brand, we had to find the appropriate way to truly connect with them and engage this ‘empowered’ generation into a research project. Given the fact that they are ‘digital natives’, online research seemed to be a logic option, despite the fact that experience with online (qualitative) research was low in the Turkish market in general. Moreover, the chosen method should allow the youngsters to be involved closely in shaping the future of a brand they like. Given these criteria, an online research community (see Figure 1) was chosen as the backbone of this research project: bringing together a larger group of participants (100 youngsters) over a longer period of time (six weeks) on a closed online platform to connect with the brand and co-create future actions together (InSites Consulting, 2013). This online qualitative method taps into Gen Y’s online knowledge on the one hand and leaves much room for participant empowerment and content creation on the other hand. Figure 1: The Ruffles Community platform
  5. 5. Translation for maximal connection Given the postmodern character of Generation Y, it is difficult and rather complex to get a valid, clear and holistic view of their behavior, attitudes and perceptions. In order to create a true understanding of what it is like to be young in today’s Turkish society and to bring fresh and unique insights onto the table, we combined different methods and techniques in this qualitative research project. We applied the principle of ‘triangulation’ (Guin et al, 2012), with the research community as the central hub of the project. We investigated the same issue from five different angles and by doing so created a more adequate and deeper understanding (see Figure 2). Figure 2: Triangulation in qualitative research
  6. 6. 1 Theory triangulation (combining different views on consumer behavior): We think less than we think we think; we are bad witnesses of our own behavior. So, it is important to both observe and talk with a target group to create real and deep understanding. In this project we combined online and offline observational techniques with different forms of qualitative discussion (= method triangulation): Environmental triangulation We found it important to connect with this generation in both the online and the offline world by combining auto-ethnography (online) and consumer immersion sessions in Istanbul (offline), this in order to combine the openness of online blog postings/pictures and the true sensing experience of offline connections with youngsters in their natural habitat. Combination of synchronous and asynchronous qualitative discussions We combined synchronous (live chat) and asynchronous (forum) qualitative discussions: catching both spontaneous reactions and the opportunity to have a real-time dialogue between the target group and the business world (both the advertiser’s (PepsiCo) perspective and the agencies), next to gathering well thought-off reactions and stimulating interaction between members on the forum for richer insights.
  7. 7. 2 Investigator triangulation (different types of people analyzing the data): To get the maximum out of the data, not only the agency and client-side researchers were confronted with the data. All stakeholders were involved in making sense of the observations and discussions by playing online data interpretation games as a homework exercise and via the insight generation exercises during the offline workshops. Even participants were involved in helping us with the analysis in a crowd-interpretation game (participants were asked in three steps to analyze raw data curated by the community moderator and the research team). Those community participants or ‘co-researchers’helped us to fill our ‘blind spots’ (things we do not see or find because we are not part of the target group and the context they live in) and bring more, sharper and better insights into the table. Depending on the topic, between 20 and 40% additional insights were found for the curated pieces of data by involving participants in the analysis process. Combination of individual and group discussions To gain understanding in the ‘me’ versus the ‘we’ dimension of the category consumption and brand positioning, both individual (via a blog) and group discussions (via online focus groups and the forum on the community) were used to create an ideal mix between individual observations and group alignment.
  8. 8. Co-creating the future of Ruffles Taking these specifications into account, we crafted the design for a 6-week community project in three stages of two weeks each: To fully understand Gen Y and the current product/brand experience, we asked participants to keep a multi-media blog during two weeks. Based on auto-ethnographic tasks, we found insights we could build on. Phase 1 - Consumer Immersion Phase 2 - Brand Activation and Campaigns In the second part of the project, the objective was to further develop brand activation platforms and to test and fine-tune campaign ideas together with the community members. During these two weeks, the creative agency was inspired by the community members’ feedback. Phase 3 - Social Media Marketing Technology, digital and social media are playing an important role in the lives of Generation Y. It was crucial to truly understand the Turkish context and to give the social strategy a central place in brand activation and every campaign. This is what the final stage of the community was all about.
  9. 9. Researcher: think big and act as a brand The community was a success among the participants, they really liked this way of being involved in the future of a brand they all know and love. One of the big learnings was that the brand needed to be repositioned from a ‘me’- to a more ‘we’-oriented brand. Both the Ruffles brand and the product experience occasions seemed to be strongly linked with emotional social sharing moments and rituals. Secondly, until now the brand was especially tailored for a male target group. During the project, it became clear that there were many opportunities in shaping Ruffles into a more unisex brand, while not letting go of its relatively male skew. These types of ‘big changes’ asked for an internal change management both at PepsiCo and at the agency side. The research team had to convince the brand teams as well as the creative agencies that this was the way to go. Moreover, they needed to inspire and direct all stakeholders to allow them to execute the new brand strategy in the best possible way. We believe researchers should think and act more as a brand (manager). Just like a contemporary and Gen Y proof brand (manager), they have to create relevant touch points between the message (the research results) and the audience (the different stakeholders in the project) in order to get to maximum impact (understanding of the target group and fresh inspiration to take action upon). As marketers, we should ‘advertise’and ‘promote’ our research results through a variety of channels, rather than stick to the typical PowerPoint end presentation.
  10. 10. Meaningful consumer touch points To enhance decision making, we wanted to connect all stakeholders to the maximum with the target group. To realize that, we acted as ‘content marketer’ and created various touch points between the consumer world (the research results) and the business world (the marketing team and their objectives) while sharing our research results (Troch et al, 2012). It is best to do so in three consecutive stages: ‘engage’ (= confronting the research user with the consumer world and with their own (limited/partial) knowledge of the target group), ‘inspire’ (= sharing the key insights in an inspiring and entertaining way) and ‘activate’ (= translating the insights into concrete next steps and actions). Next we will give an overview of our plan to share the right information and inspiration at the right time via the most optimal channels and formats.
  11. 11. 1 Intermediate debriefs and workshops Debrief After the first 10 days of the project, a first debrief took place with the internal clients. In this session, the target group was brought to life through pictures and quotes. See it as a first confrontation with the consumers’ lives and their brand perceptions. After three weeks, a full-day workshop was organized. In this session the results of the first half of the community were shared. We paid a lot of attention that day to creating a thorough understanding of what Turkish youth expects from life, brands in general and Ruffles in specific. We tried to realize this by not only ‘telling’ and ‘showing’ them the results, but also by ‘involving’ them in the research process, as is described further in this presentation. Workshop
  12. 12. 2 Online and offline consumer immersion exercises with all stakeholders Detective homework A couple of days before the intermediate workshop all attendees (researchers, marketers and creatives) received a homework task. They had to follow one participant for three days across the different topics on the community in order to get a slice of life of one particular participant. As a part of the workshop, all attendees had to interpret a handful of raw data that had led us towards some of the key conclusions. By performing this task, they were able to almost discover the findings themselves. Interpretation game Consumer safari Chat session As a break during the session, attendees were meeting up with youngsters in their own houses, in the streets of Istanbul or in a bar, thus adding another layer of understanding of the target group. After the immersion exercises, the presentation of the results and our conclusions, the workshop day closed off with a live chat session with the 10 most interesting community members who tackled the final questions from the audience.
  13. 13. 3 Closing workshop - a creative ideation session Synthesize This workshop at the very end of the project started with a short overview of what we had learned in the first part of the community and the intermediate workshop. After that results from the tests of activation material and campaigns were discussed and put into perspective. Right before the ideation session, a last dose of fresh thinking was injected during a two-hour inspiration session full of insights and cases on marketing towards Gen Y from around the world, both from within and out of the snack category, an ideal spring board towards the apotheosis of the project. Give context and inspire Ideate During this ultimate brainstorm, materials were fine-tuned and a plan of action was crafted interactively (in small groups consisting of both brand team members and agencies) among the multidisciplinary team. Each team competed with the other on finding the best new brand activation and communication ideas.
  14. 14. A recipe for success To assess ‘whether’and ‘how’we succeeded in our mission to connect the PepsiCo team and their advertising agencies with the target group and inspire them to take relevant actions, we conducted interviews among the client/agency side participants in this project: 11 in total (two client-side researchers, four marketers and five creatives). We organized this four months after the study was finished, in order to see the real post- project impact within the business.
  15. 15. Here is an overview of the different actions taken by PepsiCo, based on the results of this community study: 1 First of all, the brand got a sharper and more differentiating positioning (different than e.g. Doritos and other more ‘we’-oriented and purely male-focused brands). 2 Next to that, the team realized that the brand was a bit too extreme in its communication and in making use of celebrities. It had lost touch with the everyday life of the Turkish Gen Y target group. Based on the inspiration in the community, a campaign around a football star (Pascal Nouma) was started to move the brand closer to Turkish Gen Y’s life;. 3 Based on what they had learned during the immersion phase in this community project, marketers and creatives started to include more of Gen Y’s jargon and thinking in creative developments. 4 Finally, the brand tonality on social media was adapted.
  16. 16. The interviews also gave us an insight in the impact of our phased approach in communicating the research results at the end result, the overall ‘stickiness’ of the project 1 Most of the interviewees indicated that the research delivered to them fresh insights and especially a deeper understanding of the target group, through the almost daily or weekly confrontation with the consumer in different formats over a longer period of time. 2 Involving internal stakeholders in the research process works. Being immersed in the target group creates ‘consumer feeling’, discovering some of the results yourself makes it easier to comprehend and believe them, performing exercises forces one to think like a consumer. Reading, experiencing and sharing the consumers’ stories made the team members remember the most important research results even months after the final presentation. 3 Overall, this project approach convinced the researcher team at PepsiCo Turkey of research communities as a solid method to connect with this young group of Generation Y consumers. All parties involved in the project are more than ever convinced that it is worth the time and effort to immerse into the consumers’ world and especially that consumers can bring great value to the table. and the actions taken:
  17. 17. Let’s do some reverse engineering to discover why we were successful in creating a big impact with this research by framing some results of the qualitative interviews into the model of ‘success for effective communication’ that Dan and Chip Heath described in their book ‘Made to Stick’ (2007): Credible Unexpected Emotional Give an idea believability: by confronting stakeholders with the raw data and by involving them in the research process, we build credibility both for the methodology and for the value of the voice of the consumer. Grab people's attention by surprising them: by highlighting the interesting consumer stories along the way, you highlight the value of the research and the voice of the target group. Help people see the importance of an idea: it seems to be key to confront the audience with the real people and their real stories and emotions. Bring them to life through pictures, videos, quotes and stories.
  18. 18. Simple Concrete Stories Empower people to use an idea through narrative: involve stakeholders in the research process and confront them with consumers several times; by doing that, they get the opportunity to create their own narrative via which they will remember the most important conclusions of the study. Find the core of any idea: the core task of the research team in the end is to connect the dots and to simply and clearly present the final conclusions. The broad consumer feeling and understanding created during the first phase of the project will help to put these conclusions and recommendations into perspective. Make sure action is taken based upon an idea: the most important task of a research team is to make sure the ideal conditions are created to take relevant action during and after the closing session.
  19. 19. Conclusion: tell, show and… involve
  20. 20. Acknowledgement Special thanks to Martijn van Bijnen and Sarianne van der Hoest for their brilliant account and research work for the Ruffles research project and the workshops as well as to the PepsiCo brand teams and the different agencies involved.
  21. 21. Van den Bergh, J. & Berger, M. (2013). How Cool Brands Stay Hot - Second Edition, Kogan Page. Chip, D. & Chip, H. (2007). Made to stick, Random House. Guin, L., Diehl, D. and McDonald, D. (2012), Triangulation: Establishing the validity of qualitative studies, IFAS. InSites Consulting (2013). The Consumer Consulting Board: Consumers Shaping your Business, InSites Consulting. De Ruyck, T. et al (2011). Engage, Inspire, Act: 3 Step Stones towards Developing more Impactful Products. ESOMAR Congress. Troch, T. et al (2012). Doing More with Less: Crossing the Boundaries of Qualitative to Increase Business Impact. ESOMAR Qualitative Conference.
  22. 22. Tom De Ruyck Head of Consumer Consulting Boards InSites Consulting Erkan Balkan Consumer Insights Manager Pepsico Turkey Joeri Van den Bergh Managing Director InSites Consulting Anouk Willems Research Innovation Manager InSites Consulting Annelies Verhaeghe Head of Research Innovation InSites Consulting
  23. 23. Thank you! @InSites