Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 553 – Understanding how to Leverage Ecosystems in Your Research with Vidyotham Reddi, Director of Growth Analytics & Market Intelligence at Mars

This episode is in collaboration with MRMW North America 2022.


Today I’m joined by Vidyotham Reddi, Director of Growth Analytics & Market Intelligence at Mars. 

Mars is an American family-owned multinational manufacturer of some of the world’s most iconic products including M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, ORBIT®, EXTRA®, and Skittles. 

Prior to joining Mars, Vidyotham served as an insights leader at AT&T, Nielsen, and General Mills.

MRMW North America 2022: 

Find Vidyotham Online:  

Find Jamin Online:

Find Us Online: 

Music: 

This Episode is Sponsored by:

The Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program delivers the #1 ranked insights and analytics graduate degree in three formats: 

  • Full-time on campus 
  • Full-time online 
  • Part-time online

NEW FOR 2022: 

If you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their 3-course certificates: Insights Design or Insights Analysis. 

In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build toward your graduation.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at: broad.msu.edu/marketing.

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com


[00:00:00]

Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody, I’m Jamin, host of the Happy Market Research Podcast, today we are joined Vidyotham Reddi, director of global analytics and market intelligence at Mars. Mars is an American family owned multinational manufacturer of the some world’s most iconic products, also some of my favorites, including M&Ms, Snickers, Orbits, Extra and Skittles. Prior to joining Mars, Vidyotham served as an insights lead at AT&T, Nielsen and General Mills. This podcast is being done in conjunction with MRMW’s North American event in Atlanta, which is being held on June 15th and 16th. Every year, MRMW brings together forward thinking clients, innovative agencies and technology disruptors to discuss the latest trends and innovations that are driving our industry forward. The theme of this year’s event is inspiration, innovation, and insights. As in past years, I’ll be chairing the entire event and I hope to see you there. It would be great to get some face time and maybe even some cocktails. Vidyotham, welcome to the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[00:01:02]
Vidyotham Reddi: Hey, thanks, thanks Jamin, really appreciate it, glad to be here.

[00:01:06]
Jamin Brazil: The Michigan State University’s Master of Science and Marketing Research Program delivers the number one ranked insights and analytics degree in three formats, full-time on campus, full-time online and part-time online. New for 2022, if you can’t commit to their full degree program, simply begin with one of their three course certifications, insights design, or insights analysis. In addition to the certification, all the courses you complete will build towards your graduation. If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s program at broad. msu. edu/marketing. Again, broad. msu. edu/marketing. HubUX is a research operations platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions and surveys. For a limited time, user seats are free, if you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit HubUX.com. It’s an honor to have you on, you and I were able to touch base briefly in Philadelphia, I am super excited about being able to attend your talk. The title of your talk in Atlanta is Observational Research and Action, A/B Testing as the Gold Standard of Learning. What can attendees expect to learn from your talk?

[00:02:32]

Vidyotham Reddi: I think the title pretty much gives it away, right Jamin? We were looking for the right words and make it really kind of sexy if you may, but eventually settled on kind of spelling out what the talk was going to be about it. Really I think what attendees should expect to learn from the talk is, an understanding of how to leverage ecosystems, especially ecosystems where you can tie first party data with kind of sales data. The whole idea here is that as consumers observe content, then how we can observe them in how that content influences their purchase decisions, right? That’s the whole idea here, and it’s kind of the gold standard of market research pretty much, if you think of the old school way of doing it, right? You would observe behavioral research was where the money was at, and this is actually takes it to the next level. I think what attendees can expect to learn is how that still is super important, is at the core of robust learning and understanding consumer behavior, and probably more importantly, how we at Mars have actually leveraged it, pretty effectively in one of our key markets.

[00:03:36]
Jamin Brazil: It’s interesting that you’re drawing that connection to sort of the origin of market research, ethnography of course being a cornerstone discipline in consumer insights, even today, and one of the things that digital enables is ethnography at scale, which is quite literally unprecedented. Of course, the problem with that is that observational data is not well formed, which means that it’s hard for an insights professional to be able to take it, structure it in a way that can be analyzed, and then turn it into something that is connected to the self-reported data.

[00:04:11]
Vidyotham Reddi: Yes.

[00:04:12]
Jamin Brazil: My question is, how do you solve that problem?

[00:04:15]
Vidyotham Reddi: When you think of the challenges facing us when we got into the whole digital space, and you’ve defined all of them, right? It’s the whole kind of questions around the integrity, or the sanitization if you may of the information that we’re looking at. Now one thing I’ll tell you about the digital age is that the amount of information we have is amazing, the kind of information, the granularity, the quality of it if you may, but the other thing also I think is that just because it’s digital, doesn’t mean that all of it is useful, you know what I mean? So like in the old days, we would not look at any data, we would look at specific things that really we thought had the significant signals in them. I think those principles still apply in the digital world. If you kind of keep that principle in place, I do think you can actually overcome some of those challenges. Here’s the thing though, in the digital age, the amount of information you can collect is unprecedented, and it’s unlimited, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, right? So if you go in with an a priori mindset or if your philosophy is that, hey, I’m going to go in and I’m going to go in with a hypothesis mindset, that I have some theories as to why A is happening, and I have some theories as to why B is happening, if that remains your fundamental construct, I think that’s what protects you. I don’t know if that answers your question specifically, but that’s what – that’s how I’ve done it and that’s how I coach leaders do it, and pretty much that’s how we recommend things to happen at Mars as well.

[00:05:40]
Jamin Brazil: If I understand the framework, it’s basically be hypothesis oriented, in other words, enter your research with a very clear hypothesis of what your belief is and then – and your test strategy against that, and then taking it to the next step, it’s almost like you’re writing the report ahead of time, which then informs what questions you need to make sure that you’re answering, which gives you obviously the data points needed.

[00:06:04]
Vidyotham Reddi: Right, right, now I know this probably makes a lot of people squirm, especially in kind of today’s popular press if you may, like my god, what do you mean? I have to go in with a – like write the deck first, right? Which you just said. Here’s the thing though, you don’t give that job of writing the deck first to anybody, right? You give it to the subject matter experts, you know what I mean? People who have honed their craft, who have sharpened their craft in the space and those who really truly understand consumer behavior, the insides and the outsides of it, they can absolutely go in, rest assured, with the task of writing the deck. This is what a good analyst does, right? A good analyst basically says, hey, based on the information I have, here’s what I think is going to happen, but they don’t just then put that position out there and exit, they stay with the question, they stay with the answer to say, was my prediction or was my forecast correct? And if it was correct, great, let’s do more of it. It wasn’t, then a great analyst would say, what was the gap? Why did that gap happen and can we learn from it? So you still have to go through that process, you know what I mean?

[00:07:06]
Jamin Brazil: Yes.

[00:07:07]
Vidyotham Reddi: And that process would still be the same no matter what the data source is, but yes, I think writing the deck, as long as the people who are writing the deck or who are tasked with writing the deck come from deep experience and expertise, then you’re comfortable writing the deck before you actually go in and commission research. It’s almost like going out there and boiling the ocean, right? Because you can’t, and the idea is that you don’t go and boil the ocean, you basically start in a general space, an area that you think you have chances of more success, right? That’s the whole idea, right, correct? It’s the same thing here as well. Just because you have larger machines and faster machines, guess what? The data conundrum has actually geometrically exploded, that it doesn’t matter how much computing power you have. If you don’t have a hypothesis mindset, you’ll drown in it eventually.

[00:07:53]
Jamin Brazil: There’s another benefit that recently surfaced for me in doing things the way that you described which is, a stakeholder involvement along the whole research process, so the old method, how we used to do it, we would maybe have a business question and then the researchers would do all the research and they’d present that to the business stakeholders, but now in this new model, by writing the report up before you’ve actually done the research, you’re having to involve the stakeholders in that whole hypothesis creation process, which can create a shortcut to connecting that insight to the stakeholder.

[00:08:27]
Vidyotham Reddi: Yes, totally, so I think – yes, absolutely right, and if you really think about it, there’s really no news here, right? This is how it used to be done in the good old days, right? You had to have your stakeholders almost attached at your hip to be able to make progress and give good, actionable insights to the organization. Here’s another thing to watch out for, I completely understand and buy into the philosophy of saying, there are some of those patterns that you wouldn’t have seen and observed, so you need to almost have an objective eye looking at the information to pop to the top, what are potential patterns that you wouldn’t have necessarily seen if you didn’t go through those processes, right? For it gives you, whether it’s due to biases, due to not having the full information, I totally buy into that philosophy, but even when those first ideas are kind of popping up or if you let a system to identify the patterns and pop them up, I would still say that you have to have a hypothesis before you start going and looking at those patterns, because then you can get inundated by the patterns themselves and really have no way of understanding if that pattern will frankly drive my top line or not, does that make sense, what I’m saying?

[00:09:38]
Jamin Brazil: Yes.

[00:09:39]
Vidyotham Reddi: So media creation for example, automating effective media is all the rage these days, I’m sure you’ve heard about this too, right? That we are dreaming the big dreams of the day when we create effective content without humans being involved, right? That’s the promised land, and I think it’s a great vision and ambition to have, I think it’s fantastic, but I honestly think that you can look at effective media creation, and you can have a million pieces of copy, right? But if you didn’t understand which pieces of copy actually are driving your penetration, and which pieces of copy are driving your buy rates, I would say you’d waste a lot of time throwing effective – ‘effective’ content out there, unless you actually establish that hypothesis up front, does that make sense?

[00:10:22]

Jamin Brazil: Yes, that’s super interesting, and it’s funny because in a lot of ways, at least what I’m kind of taking away is, there’s a qualitative assessment that’s taking place along with the quantitative view inside of the data.

[00:10:34]
Vidyotham Reddi: That’s right, that’s right, and I think both those are inseparable to be honest, I don’t know how you could get to any insight by somehow saying that the behavioral is all you need to look at. You need to understand why the behaviors are happening, right? It’s the antecedence, and this is not new news. This is something that our colleagues in the education sector have been using for decades. It’s like, what are the antecedent behaviors? And unless you understand the antecedence, you can never understand how to influence the behavior.

[00:11:01]
Jamin Brazil: I have one last question for you –

[00:11:02]
Vidyotham Reddi: Sure.

[00:11:03]
Jamin Brazil: What is your personal motto?

[00:11:07]
Vidyotham Reddi: So my personal motto is curiosity, I’ve lived by it, I’ve grown by it, I’ve observed people around me who have been super successful at what they do, demonstrate it and role model it, and I believe that curiosity is the bedrock of leadership and growth.

[00:11:20]
Jamin Brazil: Vidyotham, it has been an honor having you on the podcast. Thank you for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.

[00:11:23]
Vidyotham Reddi: Thank you very much.

[00:11:26]
Jamin Brazil: Everybody else, I hope you found some value here and I also hope you will join both of us at this year’s MRMW event in Atlanta on June 15th and 16th. Have a great rest of your day.