Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 529 – IA Annual 2022 Conference Series: Vidyotham Reddi, Director of Growth Analytics at Mars Inc. 

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Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody, welcome to the Happy Market Research Podcast. We are live on the conference call floor, at Insights Associations, and I have a very special guest. Mars, Inc. is the name of the company. Vidyotham Reddi is his name, and he was a guest speaker here today.


Vidyotham Reddi: Yeah, I was, and thank you for having me. And, I didn’t ask you how I say your name, Jamin, Jammin?


Jamin Brazil: Jamin, you nailed it.


Vidyotham Reddi: Jamin, all right.


Jamin Brazil: I wish it was Jammin, everybody’s always disappointed when they meet me in person, because they always expect me to be like a six-foot Rastafarian. Jamin Brazil. But it just never pans out that way. Anyway. So tell us about your talk.


Vidyotham Reddi: So I came to the Insights Association to present my work at Mars, Inc., where we basically are leveraging an A/B testing ecosystem that we developed. So it’s a digital A/B testing ecosystem that we built working with the Mars Wrigley China business and partners in China, like Tencent and Alibaba Group. And what we do is we evaluate copy content effectiveness. And we can do it in a way that it’s on-demand, it’s scalable, it’s repeatable, and that covers 80% of our impressions.


Jamin Brazil: Wow, that’s huge. So is, you said A/B testing, is that like in-market testing then?


Vidyotham Reddi: Yeah, so what we do is we leverage Alibaba’s platform to deploy content, versions of content if you may, based on our consumer work. And then, depending on how the heat is, in terms of which version of the content is really converting to more purchases, we can make a determination of which direction to go. So it’s very much in-market, but it’s not market at scale, so it’s not like deployed national TV, if you may, or it’s not stocked on shelf, it’s not in-market in that sense of the term.


Jamin Brazil: Got it, it’s digital.


Vidyotham Reddi: But it’s very live, real consumer tested work.


Jamin Brazil: That’s so interesting. And that’s a material investment both in terms of time and treasure by Mars, Inc.


Vidyotham Reddi: Yeah, it is actually, and I think the investment, if you may, is I think I reap the benefits of Mars’s work that preceded me, right? So when you think about Mars, great company, great brands, great market presence. So that became a huge benefit for me to make inroads with some of these partners, number one. Number two, at the end of the day, Mars has a very rich analytics culture around data-driven decisioning, correct? And they’ve had that for years before I joined the company. So I’ve been with the company about six years. For I would think about 15 years before even I arrived, they had a very strong practice around it. So, reaped a lot of the benefits and treasures, but I think I kind of got the advantage of all that build up. But yeah, definitely.


Jamin Brazil: I appreciate the humility, that we do in fact stand on other people’s breakthroughs.


Vidyotham Reddi: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.


Jamin Brazil: But it is nice to have a material- so the Wal-Mart presentation was interesting, I don’t know if you had a chance to hear that one.


Vidyotham Reddi: Yes, I did.


Jamin Brazil: OK, great. So it had a lot – I wouldn’t say similar, but it actually had a market outcome for Mars – or for Wal-Mart, where they’re actually selling the data to their partners.


Vidyotham Reddi: So Ali does the same thing. So what they’ve done is they’ve taken what we’ve developed for them, and they do sell that capability to non-competes. So it was developed in a very kind of mutual – so Mars has these principles, five principles, and mutuality is one of them. So in a very mutualities way we developed it for benefiting but also helping them develop their systems. So interesting you mention Wal-Mart. So I actually called them out in my talk today. They were in the room and I said, “If Wal-Mart’s in this room I’d love to work with you folks next.” And I do really think that what they’ve done at Wal-Mart is really the next horizon. They said 150,000,000 consumers in their database.


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, that’s right.


Vidyotham Reddi: And we can literally do what we did with Alibaba, with Wal-Mart. And we can do it today.


Jamin Brazil: This is pretty exciting stuff. I mean, that’s like – it’s really about the triangulation of truth, because you’re able to take behavioral data and self-reported data, survey data, and everything else, and then combine it into a singular point of view that is in fact validated.


Vidyotham Reddi: Absolutely. Yeah, but it just happens. All the other stuff, the survey data and the self-reported doesn’t happen on the platform, so that precedes the work on the platform. So an example could be that we take deep consumer, you know, needs state, or insight work to understand what kinds of content, what kinds of messaging, think of it that way. That then feeds into our creative briefs, we work with the media agencies to say what versions, what formats, and then we test those. We test those on the platform, and guess what? We get in- we get conversion to sales. Now that’s the gold standard, do, don’t you think, it’s literally saying we expose you to an ad, or a piece of content, and then we’re able to watch your behavior, like, did you purchase what we were simulating you through?


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, one of my – so – I don’t have his permission to share but it’s a top technology company, head of insights, and they actually stopped doing A/B testing and they went to Facebook ads. As, and they’re, and it’s like a poor man sort of var- variation of that, where they just put it out there and-


Vidyotham Reddi: Yeah, and see, yeah.


Jamin Brazil: See what was gonna click and then that was what they would use in their content.


Vidyotham Reddi: Yeah, absolutely, and I think that’s fair. So the gold standard is tying it to sales, and that’s what you need to aspire to because that’s when you know you’ve really answered the question. But don’t sniff at upper-funnel stuff, because directionally that’s still valid. Like whether it’s the clicks on Facebook or the click-through rates on videos, on Google, or YouTube, same thing.


Jamin Brazil: Let’s shift gears. We’ve seen a rise in customer experience, user experience, and market research adoption. How do you see – are those blending together or becoming s-?


Vidyotham Reddi: Jamin, yes, I think they’re all relevant and very, very needed, and I’m glad they’re popping up. I don’t see the blending happening as much. And that to me is the, kind of puzzlement, if I can use that word, or surprise. Because I honestly don’t know how the three of them could be separate. And how the three of them continue the journeys forward to grow and evolve to make the whole bigger than the sum of the parts, without being combined. So I don’t see enough of the blending. I hope that happens, to be honest, because I don’t know how else we can make progress.


Jamin Brazil: It’s super important.


Vidyotham Reddi: It’s critical actually. It’s mission critical.


Jamin Brazil: And a lot of the reason why they’ve been separated is because of their point of origin inside of the organization.


Vidyotham Reddi: Exactly.


Jamin Brazil: And those points of origin have a lot of cul-, natural culture [CROSSTALK] into them.


Vidyotham Reddi: Yeah, totally.


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, it’s a big problem to solve.


Vidyotham Reddi: No, big problem to solve, and I think you, you’ve really hit on a very important point about where did these things grow up, right? And I think when they’re green shoots, they need their own little unique boxes and environments to kind of custom create and custom grow these. Because otherwise they will never grow. But I think there comes a time when the green shoots need to become saplings, and when they go into the field, you can’t keep those silos, because then, guess what? You don’t build a, what, the herd immunity, if you may?


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, that’s right.


Vidyotham Reddi: And how these things survive. So I think it’s the same thing with these three things, CX, UX, and market research, and – the other thing also, I think, why it’s happening separately, is because we are I think making a distinction between what is market research and consumer insights, and what is data and analytics. Do you know what I mean?


Jamin Brazil: Yeah, I do. I do.


Vidyotham Reddi: And I think CX and UX are somehow being interchanged for data and analytics, and consumer insights and market research sen-, tends to be in its own silo somewhere in the organization. And that’s another puzzlement, and actually a colleague of mine uses a term “befuddlement.”


Jamin Brazil: Befuddlement is the right one, yeah that’s great.


Vidyotham Reddi: So I’m befuddled and I really hope that that thing, that whole momentum change.


Jamin Brazil: Vidyotham Reddi, thank you for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Vidyotham Reddi: Thank you very much, Jamin, it was wonderful. Thank you for inviting me.


Jamin Brazil: Everybody else, hope you found a lot of value in this. We’re gonna get to the cocktails.