Ep. 439 – Stephen Griffiths, Director of Insights at Level2, on Trends in Market Research

My guest today is Stephen Griffiths, Director of Insights at Level2. Level2’s mission is remission for people with type 2 diabetes. Level2 is an all new personalized, digital care experience complete with coaching and clinical care, and informed by the latest in diabetes technology wearables. 

With real-time information on how food, movement, stress, and sleep all impact glucose levels, Level2 helps people make small changes for big impact. 

Prior to joining Level2, Stephen has been in many big companies and is the host of Digging for insights.

Find Stephen Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenrgriffiths/ 

Website: https://mylevel2.com/ 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

Music: 

“Clap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com 

This Episode is Sponsored by:

This episode is brought to you by Michigan State’s Marketing Research program. Are you looking for higher pay, to expand your professional network, and to achieve your full potential in the world of market research?

Today, the program has tracks for both full-time students and working professionals.

They also provide career support assisting students to win today’s most sought-after jobs. In fact, over 80% of Michigan State’s Marketing Research students have accepted job offers 6 months prior to graduating.

The program has three formats:

  • The first is a Full-Time 100% Online program taught over 12-months starting in January 2022
  • The second is a Part-Time 100% Online program that is 20-months. This one starts in May 2022 and is specifically designed for working professionals,
  • And of course, they offer a Full-Time 12-month in-person experience that starts in September 2022

All programs include real-world experience and full-time job placement support.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at:

broad.msu.edu/marketing 

It costs nothing to get more details. Take the time, invest in yourself. You are worth it and your future self will thank you. Class sizes are limited, so please, check it out today. 


This Episode is Sponsored by:

This episode is brought to you by Momentive. You may have heard that SurveyMonkey’s parent company recently rebranded as Momentive, a leader in agile insights and experience management. The Momentive AI-powered insights platform is built for the pace of modern business so you can deeply understand your market, elevate your brand, and build winning products faster. 

Momentive offers 22 purpose-built market research solutions that incorporate an AI engine, built-in expertise, sophisticated methodologies, and an integrated global panel of over 144M people to deliver meaningful insights in hours, not months. Momentive also has a team of market research consultants that can take on anything from research design to custom reporting as needed, so you can spend more time shaping what’s next for your organization.

To learn more, visit momentive.ai 


[00:00:00]

Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody. I’m Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Research Podcast. My guest today is Stephen Griffiths, Director of Insights at Level2. Level2’s mission is remission for people with Type 2 diabetes. Level2 is an all new personalized digital care experience complete with coaching and clinical care. And informed by the latest in diabetes technology wearables. With real time information on how food, movement, stress and sleep all impact glucose levels. Level2 helps people make small changes for big impact. I know that sounded like a little bit of an infomercial, so I do apologize. I’m not trying to sell you Level2. I do feel like it is important though for you to level set with what the business does because I think many of you may not be familiar. Prior to joining Level2, Stephen has been in many big companies. I think all of you know him as the host of Digging for Insights. Stephen welcome to the show.

[00:01:05]

Stephen Griffiths: Great, Jamin. Great to be here.

[00:01:11]

Jamin Brazil: As you know, I’ve done hundreds of interviews with today’s top minds in marketing research. Many of them trace their roots to Michigan State’s marketing research program. Are you looking for higher pay to expand your professional network and to achieve your full potential in the world of market research. Here’s some good news. The program has tracks for both full time students and working professionals. They also provide career support assisting students to win today’s most sought after jobs. In fact, over 80 percent of Michigan State’s marketing students have accepted job offers six months prior to graduating. The program has three formats. The first, full time, 100 percent online program taught over 12 months and it starts this January. The second is a part time, 100 percent online program that’s spread over 20 months. This one starts in May and is specifically designed for working professionals. Of course they have their full time, 12 month in-person experience that starts September 2022. All programs include real world experience and full time job placement support. If you are looking to achieve your full potential check out MSU’s program at B-R-O-A-D, that’s broad, dot MSU dot EDU slash marketing. That’s broad.msu.edu/marketing. It costs nothing to get more details. Take the time. Invest in yourself. You are worth it. And your future self will thank you. Class sizes are limited so please check them out today. This episode is brought to you by Momentive. You may have heard that Survey Monkey’s parent company recently rebranded as Momentive, a leader in agile insights and experience management. The Momentive AI powered insights platform is built for the pace of modern business so you can deeply understand your market, elevate your brand and build winning products faster. Momentive offers 22 purpose built market research solutions that incorporate an AI engine, built in expertise, sophisticated methodologies, and an integrated global panel of over a 144 million people to deliver meaningful insights in hours not months. Momentive also has a team of market research consultants that can take on anything from research design to custom reporting as needed. So you can spend more time shaping what’s next for your organization. To learn more visit Momentive. AI, that’s M-O-M-E-N-T-I-V-E dot AI. Let’s start with the context. Tell us about your parents and how they informed what you do today?

[00:03:46]

Stephen Griffiths: Sure. My dad was a US Diplomat working in the Foreign service. I’d say the two main things that I learned from him was one, this eagerness for analysis. He worked in helping create economic policies for the US Government as well as understanding the political agenda. And so he would do everything from talking to people on the street, to negotiating, to looking at economic data. This ability of his to sort of put it all together and making recommendations for what the embassy or the consulate should do and what the US government should do for policy makers was a big part of what he did. It took me a while to realize that I think I have some of that as well. I love taking different disparate pieces of data. How do we analyze those. Understand the bias and then make recommendations that matter. I’d say the second part is I’m also interested in international things. I think this focus in different perspectives. My dad was always thinking about this is how people view things in the Thai culture or in China or in other places. It’s that curiosity of why people think, why people make the decisions they do has influenced my decision to work in marketing research. My mom was a stay at home mom and she was very busy as I think all stay at home moms are. She specifically did a couple things. Was always trying to learn and improve. She always had a book on tape. I remember one time getting into a car in high school and I think she left on some tape about like antelopes in the wild or something like that. I’m this awkward teenager who’s taking a couple of new friends, once I got my driver’s license. I turn on the car and there’s like the antelopes in the wild gently move across. My friends are all looking at me like what do you listen to, Stephen. That was my mom. She just learned things all the time and had lots of ways to do that. That’s something I really learned from her is the curiosity about the world and always wanting to learn. She did a great job of keeping in touch with friends and family even though she lived over seas a lot. I have that as well. I enjoy keeping in touch with people and that’s meant a lot for the podcast as well.

[00:05:55]

Jamin Brazil: You lived overseas for a little while in Beijing, right? As the Press and Cultural Affairs Assistant to the US Embassy?

[00:06:05]

Stephen Griffiths: I did, yes. I worked in the US Embassy in Beijing during one of my Summer internships during college. I had a chance to live in Asia quite a bit. Which is a great experience.

[00:06:12]

Jamin Brazil: You really started in market research at Nielson working on the BASES area. Then you transferred to Proctor & Gamble. Why did you decide to go client side?

[00:06:28]

Stephen Griffiths: Taking a step back. I actually fell into marketing research even before that. In high school I was a mall interviewer. They don’t have them as often anymore but that annoying guy that’s in the mall with a clipboard. Please can you answer a survey. Please answer a survey. I did that as an hourly job in high school. Then you’re exactly right, during actually my time in Thailand, I worked for General Motors in Thailand and did market research for them as well. More office desk research. Then you’re right worked at Nielson, supplier side. Then switched to P&G. At the time, I specifically left Nielson to get an MBA because I wanted to do client side experience and do that kind of research. I loved presenting the sort of classic consultant’s dilemma. I really enjoyed doing the research, analyzing it, coming up with the recommendations. So often you hand off a piece of research to someone and you don’t know what happens to it. Either they act on it or they don’t. You don’t really know why. I really wanted to make not just deliver research but really see it to implementation. That’s one of the big reasons why I wanted to switch to client side. Which I’ve pretty much stuck with since then.

[00:07:39]

Jamin Brazil: Of course. Before Level2, global consumer insights for Cheerios. One of my favorite brands. Breakfast brands.

[00:07:51]

Stephen Griffiths: Cheerios would love to hear that you’re a fan.

[00:07:53]

Jamin Brazil: It’s part of our household ritual. It’s kind of a funny thing.

[00:07:54]

Stephen Griffiths: It was really fun. I spent six years at General Mills and doing lots of different things. At some large companies you get to do rotations. So, I did analytics for snack bars like Nature Valley and Larabar and Fiber One bar. Then was on a community food service. I helped launch the Pillsbury stuffed waffles. Imagine a breakfast sandwich encased in a waffle, maple infused waffle. It’s sold warm at 7-11 so that’s what I launched there. Then I spent my last time, you’re exactly right, at Cheerios on the breakfast desk also working on new innovations. It was just really fun to touch a lot of parts of the business and get some great experiences. I really enjoyed my time at General Mills.

[00:08:32]

Jamin Brazil: For sure. Let’s switch gears and talk a little bit about podcasting. Which you and I of course even before you hit record, start talking about podcasting. Digging for Insights. Tell us why did you start the show?

[00:08:46]

Stephen Griffiths: It was about a year and a half almost two years ago now when basically I just remembered getting into podcasts and realizing there weren’t a lot of people talking about market research topics. I think you were the only podcast that I knew of at the time who was talking about it. I thought you know I’d love to have someone who has more of a client side perspective. I bet there’s others who would appreciate that perspective as well. It’s really three reasons that it came down for me. One was to give back. I was unemployed right after I got out of undergrad during the great recession. Would’ve loved to have had podcasts to listen to to understand and explore different careers. I wanted to give back in that way. I also really like to learn. Sometimes the best way to get ahold of someone to chat is by doing a podcast episode with them. I say the third part is connecting. It’s a small world within marketing research and having another opportunity to connect with others is really important to me.

[00:09:37]

Jamin Brazil: Do you have, I’m not saying a favorite guest but do you have like a standout guest that you’d like to highlight?

[00:09:44]

Stephen Griffiths: It’s hard to pick a favorite. There’s a lot of really good guests I’ve had. One I really did enjoy talking to Rogier Verhulst. He’s the head of marketing research at LinkedIn and also authored a book. And is just really cool. He shared this experience of leaving marketing research to do a different kind of role. Then coming back into a leadership role. Then he’s obviously the head of marketing research. He’s been very successful there. Just this idea of like being open to flex your career and follow your passions and not feeling like you always have to consistently climb the ladder with every role. I thought was really impressive.

[00:10:19]

Jamin Brazil: Rogier was my first client side interview on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[00:10:27]

Stephen Griffiths: No way. I didn’t realize that. That’s awesome.

[00:10:28]

Jamin Brazil: I’m very thankful for him. We’re coming out of a time where we’ve had to basically shelter in place. Even things like, basic things like going to the grocery store, we’re very limited. What are you taking out of that time that you will carry forward in either your career or personal life?

[00:10:50]

Stephen Griffiths: That was a trying time for everyone. I’d say for me I had little kids and was trying to school at home as well on top of work as many others did. It was very trying. I feel like what I learned from that opportunity was, one, how good it is to better connect with your kids. We had a lot more at home time with kids and family, which is great. I also think there’s down sides to that in not having some separation that you might normally want. It can get overwhelming at times. Just getting closer to kids and to family I think was one thing I realized. The second piece I would say was this opportunity to do more work life integration. It’s interesting in working at General Mills at the time, we often didn’t typically use video in a lot of our calls. I think there’s a lot of folks who maybe if they join on a Teams call or a Skype call maybe it’s just audio. It’s a little bit awkward to turn on your camera. I think getting to the point where that’s normalized and that’s the way to move forward has allowed me to have a lot more flexibility to still have a busy home life but also be able to be at the meetings. To show up and be present. Regardless of where I am. I’d say that’s one of the sort of the work-life flexibility is a big lesson I’ve learned from the epidemic.

[00:12:04]

Jamin Brazil: It used to be the case pre-COVID that in a video conference, only the weirdos showed their video. There’s social pressure. If one person didn’t then everybody else would slowly turn off their cameras. Now it’s the opposite. It’s like if you’re not sharing your video you’re apologizing to everybody else on the call.

[00:12:28]

Stephen Griffiths: It’s totally different norms than it was before. You’re exactly right.

[00:12:28]

Jamin Brazil: The theme that we’re talking about in this particular series are trends in marketing research. You’ve had client side, agency side experience across the board. From the production line of insights into quite literally in the data collection given that you’re doing in-mall intercepts, to the analysis, to the report writing. From your advantage point today, what are some of the most common methodologies that are used?

[00:13:03]

Stephen Griffiths: Happy to think about that a little bit. It’s been neat seeing research across different clients. At Nielson I worked with ten different mostly Fortune 500 clients, mostly consumer goods space. Then P&G and then General Motors during college. General Mills the last six years and then now United Health group and a startup within that which is Level2 which you mentioned. It’s been neat seeing- I feel like corporate research hasn’t shifted that much over the time that I’ve seen it. I think in terms of trends I do see a trend towards sort of two different streams of work. One is foundational. I think when you think of foundational that’s more traditional, big ticket items that think of like a segmentation or a market structure. Things of that nature that matter a lot. Then you also have the second stream of work which is more sort of adhoc questions that come up. I’m seeing a lot more do it yourself solutions within that adhoc space. Maybe in the past you would say, I want to learn my business had this question about our target consumer, we want to ask a handful of questions. Maybe you would reach out to a vendor who then creates a survey for you. You do a few rounds back and forth. Maybe two to three weeks later you field it. A week of fielding. Then you get results back a month later. That was the older way of doing things. I think we’re finding that that adhoc space is really being revolutionized right now. So you have solutions where you’re asking a question and one day you’re getting results back overnight in some cases or in a couple of days. Very quickly you’re getting results back at least within a week if not faster. I think the ability to do that means they’re also taking out of some of the complexity. This idea of you can go onto a platform and as a corporate researcher write your own questions and field it yourself and find the target audience and launch that quickly. I definitely think is a trend that we’re seeing for sure.

[00:15:06]

Jamin Brazil: The platforms clearly have democratized the research ops part of things. Let’s be honest, you knew how to do research ops in your first one year in the space. You understood the whole lifecycle of data. Beyond just the simplification of the processes, what are the types of research that are being done? Meaning the actual is it A and U. Is it ad testing? When you talk about quick turn, are there specific types of projects that are being done more than others?

[00:15:39]

Stephen Griffiths: For sure. Yes. I can give a little more details on those I mentioned earlier. The foundational ones, I still see those happening all the time. Typically, any company of any size if they’re doing like meaningful segmentation or market structure or like an A and U, as you talked about. It’s an Attitude and Usage study. I remember one client that I worked with, they did a really big study on how people are using their products. They found that over time some people like the technology had changed. How people were using the product had actually evolved and so that this was a cleaning product. It didn’t clean as well as it used to. They discovered, no one was overly saying hey this isn’t working as well but as they’re tracking these sort of foundational usage things over time they recognize this. They came up with an entire new product line that was very successful in market. For me, that’s still out there. You’re going to pay a researcher, research company good money to do those sort of foundational studies. I don’t see those being democratized, revolutionized as much as other things. I’d say with the new things, everything is being revolutionized. If you think about idea screening, concept testing kinds of things. Doing super interesting as you’ve probably followed in the conference space, the conference circuit. PepsiCo has done a lot of presentations about how they’ve streamlined things. Specifically, they moved away from an outside vendor to do their concept testing to doing it internally and using a vendor that basically have a streamlined short survey. They’re using their own internal benchmarks to do the analysis. I think they said like three four days after fielding, they can get results back. Which is way faster than traditional concept testing. I think that’s a place that’s being revolutionized for sure. Other adhoc questions. I also see a lot of IDIs. One on one interviews especially video with people is big. Whether it’s trying to identify someone in a specific- I remember and you probably read this online but P&G’s Gillette brand, whereas for a while I’m not sure if they still do this but they would identify these points of time in life stage where you’re mostly likely to use their products. They would say hey guys, usually when they’re graduating high school or going to college. This is the time for them to try out a new shaver. For a while they would actually mail really a nice expensive Gillette shavers to guys who were just graduating high school I think around their 18th birthday or something like that. Imagine you’re getting this really nice shaver in the mail, I guess I should use this, give it a try. For situations like that, where whatever company is trying to understand a specific group of consumers that’s where you might have this adhoc. There’s a lot of in terms of how do I understand them better, they might schedule a half a dozen one on one interviews to reach specifically if it were that case, 18 year olds who were about to have a birthday coming up and what their thoughts are regarding facial hair and what trimmers like to use. How they would use it. You could even on the call show the shaver and things like that. I have no idea if that actually happened. That’s the kind of usage case that companies would do to have those IDIs with their target members. Besides that it’s being revolutionized. It used to be two weeks of recruiting. You have a separate company that gets recruiting people and then you talk to them two weeks later. I think there’s a lot of other technologies now that allow that much faster. In a couple days you can identify someone. You can choose who you identify and screen and talk to them within the week. I think that’s probably the way of the future. I’d say the last little piece is more in terms of short term surveys. Survey research is not the end all, be all. There’s a lot of behavior that does not match up with what people say on a survey. Survey research I think is probably still here to say it is an important element to consider along with all the other information you have about your business. Just fast quick turn surveys that are mobile friendly and things like that are important. One usage case that I’m seeing a lot is, in context research. Especially for anyone who’s selling things like in a grocery store. There’s some pretty cool technology now where you’ll send people on a mobile journey. They’ll take their phone. They’ll walk into the store and they will literally hold up the phone walking around the store and talk about it. I’m going to go in this aisle. I’m want to go to this section. I want to look over here. They just walk through their experience. That alone is incredibility insightful for companies. You’re like wait a minute, are they looking for the brand first. Or are they looking at the price. Which part of our package. I’ve worked with companies before where they’re like everybody knows about our 5X stain removal power or something like that. It turns out, when people go in there all they notice is that your bottles are one color and the other bottles are a different color. Having that understanding is just really important when you’re designing packaging, you’re thinking about new product development. That’s another used case where I’ve seen where it used to be if you brought a phone and a camera into a store, people would freak out. Literally they would send the security and ask you to leave. All sorts of issues. Now, it’s pretty normal to be on your phone all the time. So this idea of getting in context research not just for in-stores but whether you’re doing things around the house or at work or anything else. Getting context what is actually happening as they’re using a product or service is much easier now than it’s ever been before.

[00:21:00]

Jamin Brazil: I had never actually consider that. I image the backlash if a store actually said you need to put your phone away.

[00:21:12]

Stephen Griffiths: Now, especially. Most stores they’re incentivizing. Almost all of them have some sort of online mobile reward program or incentivization thing where you need your phone. I think it’s very normal and it was not that way even just three to five years ago.

[00:21:24]

Jamin Brazil: Last question. What is your personal motto?

[00:21:29]

Stephen Griffiths: There’s this great quote from the Bible that I grew up with. Where you’re treasure is, there your heart is also. I’ve interpreted that to mean that whatever is most important to you, that’s what you’re going to be thinking about. That’s what’s going to be in your heart. So, I feel like as anyone who goes through life there’s periods of time where what you think and what you spend your time on doesn’t really reflect maybe what you should be thinking about. What’s really important to you. Making sure to have that sync of how am I spending my time. How am I- what am I thinking about and is that really focused on the most important stuff for me.

[00:22:11]

Jamin Brazil: My guest today has been Stephen Griffiths, Director of Insights at Level2. Stephen thank you very much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[00:22:17]

Stephen Griffiths: Glad to be here.

[00:22:18]

Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, screen capture. I just got a new batch of t-shirts FYI. So screen capture if you tag me on LinkedIn or Twitter with that image, then I will send you a free t- shirt. Have a good rest of your day.