Recorded live in Miami, Jamin Brazil interviews Mendy Orimland, SVP of Prodege. We hope you enjoy this mini series taking you into the minds of some of the most influential CEOs in Market Research.
Hi, my name is Jamin Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. We are live today on site at the CEO Summit in beautiful Miami. My guest today is Mendy Orimland with Prodege. Tell us a little bit about Prodege, who, by the way, I’ve worked with for many years?
Ok, oh, wow. Well, thank you for bringing me here. I know we were just hanging out near the pool area, and you grabbed me, “Hey, come talk for a bit.” And happy to do so. I’m actually a native; I’m from Miami; it’s my hometown. Raised…
Yeah, yeah. Always great to be back, and it’s my first time at the Insights CEO Summit. So excited to be here.
Prodege – So, we operate several different business units, but, since we’re at a market research event and I’m responsible for the market research business at Prodege. We are an online sample provider, data-collection provider, and again so excited. Thank you for having me.
So, CEO Summit 2019. This is Day 1, right? What are some of your big take-aways?
Yes, so what I really enjoyed and I think that some of the other events don’t necessarily capture the following component. I loved hearing people’s stories about their businesses and how it got started and the pain they went through and challenges and what they had to overcome. Oftentimes, we look at businesses that are already established and giants. People don’t realize that it was zero to one at some point. At some point, they had to go from zero to one. And sharing that is very inspiring. Diane was fantastic; Michael did a great job. So, for me, that was fantastic.
That was Michael McCrary from PureSpectrum and Diane from C-Space?
Right? C-Space now owned by Omnicom, I believe.
So, Prodege is a big company, a really big company. You guys have had a tremendous amount of success. How long have you been there?
I’ve been here almost nine years.
Have you guys had any struggles? Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to tell us a little bit about how you coped during a difficult time in the business.
Yeah, I think the struggles that I personally had within the business and the business had was actually the opportunity. So, when we actually first decided that we’re going to make a play within the market research industry and become a sample provider, a lot of naysayers, “No, no, you can’t.” I actually saw that as an opportunity. Let me elaborate on that for a minute. So, I happened to stumble upon the industry. I wasn’t necessarily… I haven’t been doing this for 20 years; it’s just a few years. And the thing that really inspired me personally was when I attended some of the industry events. And speakers got up to present something that sounded somewhat innovative; the reaction from the audience was negative, was received as negative. That was my perception, whether true or not. It just didn’t seem like the industry was embracing new tactics and innovation. That’s when for me the lightbulb moment. And, again, it’s an opportunity but a struggle because you have to overcome that barrier if a lot people are not necessarily embracing opportunities.
I love that. So, how did you overcome it?
I think it’s pretty simple. I know that people look for big answers when it comes to that. If you have a strong product, you can overcome anything.
It’s as simple as that.
Do you remember one of the early customers? Who it was?
Yes, I’m not sure if they would want to share their name on it. But, once we had our first customer, it really went very quickly. I also think it was an opportunistic time. The industry was… People were talking a lot about transparency. So again, not a lot of innovation but a lot of transparency. And I think a lot of companies appreciated the transparency they received by working with us, and we took advantage of that.
I’m hearing a lot about data quality in the last… I don’t know, my whole life honestly, it’s been about data quality. But it feels like it’s trending up again in the last six months or so. Do you have any thoughts on? Is a material issue, and, if so, what’s Prodege doing around that?
Ok, when you say “trending up,” in a positive or negative?
In a concern around… It’s almost like, if you think about a graph where have quality and price. We all know what the graph looks like, right? So, as you lower price, then, of course, you impact quality, at least conceptually. So the concern that I’ve been seeing a lot and hearing a lot by major brands like including Microsoft and Google is concern around, “Gosh, we really like the fact we’re paying whatever ($3 or $4 a complete) but we’re concerned that there’s not enough incentive that going to the respondent; therefore, they’re drawing a conclusion in their head, perhaps falsely, and they don’t know if it’s true or not: Is it a legitimate or a bad player that’s taking up a portion of the surveys?
Sure, sure. This is actually a topic I actually really enjoy talking about. I don’t get the opportunity to speak a lot about it often, but there’s a secret weapon out there or a secret topic that people don’t talk about often. It comes up in a way of passing, but they don’t realize how powerful and true it is. And you touched on. As it relates to recruitment and you have the pricing and the quality. There are so many different recruitment sources out there. So a panel provider who provides respondents (people – I’m so glad we’re finally calling them people today.)
Right? We are calling them people. There are so many different ways to recruit people to anything, right? So, you have different online sources; you have radio; you have television; you have all these different things. And there’s different price points that companies pay to bring them in the door. The reality that we face today is when there’s tremendous pricing challenges, and there’s a lot of players in the market research industry in the sample space. So all across the board, it impacts how much panel providers can spend on recruitment. And the rest is history. It really how much can you spend? And that’s what you’re able to bring in the door. I always like to use analogy. It’s a silly one but… You know there are different automobiles, different types of cars out there, right? At the end of the day, some people love quality; they love a Lexus. How much added value does it provide? In terms of price point, why is it so much higher than a Honda Civic? And, at the end of the day, you can’t get a Lexus at the same price as a Honda Civic. Why? Because to engineer the car, the dollars that go into it just cost more and, ultimately, you have to spend more to get that. Now, I’m not going to sit here; I’m not making a pitch that people should spend more anything. I think people should just be aware that these are ingredients that all come into play when it comes to getting a survey complete. You, as the client, make the choice. It’s your choice. The beautiful thing about today (I know a lot of people complain), the beautiful thing is there are options out there, yeah. You have a lot of optionality. Take what works for you. It’s not a one-size-fits-all anymore.
Love it. Yeah, I think that’s a really good way of framing it. Do you think there’s going to be an increase in transparency of the amount of the CPI that goes towards the person in the way of incentive over time? Do you think that’s going to improve or increase?
I love that one. So what you get… I think what panel providers are asked quite often is “What do you do about incentives?” “What are you paying these people?” I actually think the question is really more, “How much are you paying when they come in the door?” Not the incentive on the panel, on the survey complete. Now, I don’t think people would share the answer to that because again that is a company’s proprietary information. They don’t have to share that with anyone not because they’re hiding anything, because that is what they do as a company. So I think, at the end of the day, it’s not just the incentive: incentive is one piece; it’s one ingredient, one piece of the puzzle. Recruitment matters, and it matters a lot.
So, what do you attribute to the massive success that Prodege has had in the market? I mean you guys have become a dominant force.
Oh, thank you.
I mean in the panel space. So, what do you see as sort of that ingredient that you guys have brought?
Ok, I think there are a couple, a few components. One of things that I think has really helped us a company, if I be very, very honest here, is we didn’t come into this with baggage. No prior baggage that came along, right? We were able to kind of pave our own way. Oftentimes you hear: “You have to do it ‘cause this is how we’ve been doing it for all these years. And oftentimes, depending on the stage of a company, it’s challenging on how to deal with that because it’s true. You’ve been doing things for so many years. It’s hard to change; it’s very challenging. I don’t think people should ever make fun of that. It is a huge challenge but, for us fortunately, the time we entered we didn’t have any prior baggage. I also came with just fresh lens and said that if we just stand behind our product and the quality of the product, I do think at the end of the day, it will prevail and it’ll trump ahead because I always said the thing that I focus on the most, which I know many people probably say this, but, as a company, the quality of work, there’s no cutting corners and no comprising. That’s the one area we want to sell. It comes at a cost, but I think it’s a longer term approach. I think we had the luxury of being able to take that approach.
I think that the point that you’re making about the long… adding value to the customer we heard this today with Cleveland Clinic, massive healthcare company. Adding value is the key component to building a successful partnership over time, right? ‘Cause it’s all about brand, which is just performance over time. So it does not surprise me that you’ve had the amount of success that you have in that framework.
And I’d add one thing that I think is super key, a key ingredient. I know what I don’t know. Again, I didn’t grow up the space of market research. We had an idea; we had a business concept; we thought we could do something. And, I went out and I was fortunate enough to hire and find really good staff and a really good team. The team is absolutely incredible, and I give a lot of thanks to them for allowing us to do what we do. Without them, again you can have an idea but without the team behind it… And the expertise that they bring to the table has been tremendous.
CEO Summit 2019. Mendy, Prodege, thanks so much for coming to the Happy Market Research Podcast.
Jamin, thanks for having me. Thank you.