Ep. 505 – Yogesh Chavda, Head of Insights at WS Audiology, on how Insights are Changing and why you Should be Part of the Disruption

This episode is in collaboration with QUAL360 North America. 

Our guest is Yogesh Chavda, Head of Insights at WS Audiology. 

WS Audiology is a privately-owned manufacturer of hearing aids with headquarters in Denmark and Singapore with roots going back to 1878. The current company employs more than 11,000 people globally. 

Prior to joining WS Audiology, Yogesh has served as an Associate Director at P&G, Global Director of Consumer & Market Insights at Amway, Global Director of Marketing Research & Analytics at Kimberly-Clark, Global Head of Always On Marketing at Spotify, Head of Insights at Pinterest, and Founder of Y2S Consulting.

QUAL360 North America:

  • Date: March 8-9, 2022
  • Location: Washington D.C. — Gallup World Headquarter

Find Yogesh Online:

Find Jamin Online:

  • Email: jamin@happymr.instawp.xyz 

Find Us Online: 


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Jamin Brazil: Our guest today is Yogesh Chavda, Head of Insights at WS Audiology. WS Audiology is a privately-owned manufacturer of hearing aids with headquarters in Denmark and Singapore with roots going back to 1878. The current company employs more than 11,000 people globally. Prior to joining WS Audiology, Yogesh has served as an Associate Director at Procter and Gamble, Global Director of Consumer and Market Insights at Amway, Global Director of Marketing Research and Analytics at Kimberly Clark, Global Head of Always On, Marketing at Spotify, Head of insights at Pinterest and founder of Y2S Consulting. Welcome.


Yogesh Chavda: Thank you for having me.


Jamin Brazil: Support for the Happy Market Research podcast and the following message comes from Michigan State’s marketing research program and Hub UX. I’ve done hundreds of interviews with today’s top minds in market research. Many of them trace their roots to Michigan State’s marketing research program. Are you looking for a higher paying job, 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 six months prior to graduating. If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s program at the BROAD.msu.edu/marketing. Hub UX 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 create your own account visit Hub UX.com. It is an honor. So this is being done in conjunction with Qual 360. This is an in-person event that is scheduled for March 8th, 2022. I am super excited about getting back in person what do you think about that?


Yogesh Chavda: I’m excited as well even though we’re all nervous about the fact that we have to worry about COVID and Omicron in particular but I’m actually looking very forward to being able to see people in person and to present in person versus doing it over Zoom or Microsoft Teams or whatever. It’s fun to do it that way but doing it in person is far better in my opinion.


Jamin Brazil: I’ve missed tremendously that. We had an event with QRCA that was canceled for January. I was speaking at that here in California. It was a big bummer. I recognize that we have to be responsible, relative to COVID and Omicron specifically but this is going to be great. I’m hoping that carries through and we’re able to actually do this and it doesn’t turn into another virtual event.


Yogesh Chavda: I hope so too and so long as people are vaccinated that will just make everyone’s lives easier of course.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone get vaccinated.


Yogesh Chavda: Exactly, exactly. Public service announcement for everyone who listens to this podcast today.


Jamin Brazil: Yes totally it’s just the responsible thing to do. If I lose you as a listener I apologize but it just kind of is what it is. Anyway, that is not the topic for today. The topic actually, this is in conjunction with the Qual 360 North America event. The title of that event is empowering insights through emotion. Your topic specifically is bringing tech to the qual party. Mixing qualitative with advanced technology and analytics. So give us a sneak peek. Tell us about the talk.


Yogesh Chavda: As I was planning this presentation and quite frankly this is something that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. My big concern right now is that when I think about how qualitative research has been created and how it’s being acted upon. How it’s being executed by vendors and by clients today. We’ve seen a bit of a transformation, we’ve seen things like online interviews and all that kind of stuff. Driven primarily by COVID of course. But there seems to have been a lack of innovation in the qualitative segment of the market research industry. And to me, when I think about how the world has shifted and how much disruption is happening today across multiple industries. WS Audiology is not immune to disruption. We are either disrupting ourselves or are being disrupted in our world. I need the qualitative research segment to also disrupt itself to be able to provide the right kind of tools and capabilities that helps me run my business. So with that said, how does that connect with tech? There are two things or three things that are connected to the quality of space that I think are really important. One is that access to consumers is becoming more of a challenge. You have companies like Pinterest or Spotify or others in the tech space who have first party data or walled gardens. That’s a terminology that’s becoming more and more common today. Which means that they can actually use data analytics to mine their own consumers data in a very big way to identify insights. You don’t necessarily need to do qualitative research in that context. On the flip side you also have other companies that are providing machine learning and AI capabilities that can mine social media posts in at scale and you can actually take posts and be able to mine that information and be able to categorize it and actually quantify it to a certain degree and be able to identify insights. So if those two things are already happening today, what space is qualitative research in the traditional sense? IDI’s focus groups, exploratory research, optimization research going to play when you have all these things happening already around you? The space is becoming narrower and narrower. And that’s why I’m worried. So with that said, my hope is that by me presenting the stock on March 8th, I’d like to show some examples of how I’ve been using some of these tech capabilities to help mine data, either from a machine learning AI perspective or even if I was to do IDI’s. I’m able to come up with solutions that are helping me at AWS Audiology, in a fairly big way. And I’m able to somewhat bring the organization along even with quote unquote, qualitative information. Because I’m connecting it in to modeling capabilities and machine learning capabilities that gives everybody the confidence to say, oh OK, we learned these things qualitatively but we are now, we have the confidence from the quote unquote quantitative side to be able to know that what we’re doing is the right thing to go to, kind of thing. Let me just quickly end this by saying that I’m not against qualitative research, I love qualitative research. I’m not trying to put anybody down, any vendor or any clients down. I’m just saying that we need to innovate. And we need to start innovating quickly because we are getting disrupted. And given that it’s important for us to come up with new capabilities that helps companies like mine be able to solve for problems that I’m facing. I’m now working in the voice space in a way because it’s about hearing aids. But in my past I’ve used image analytics and text analytics to be able to solve for problems that I didn’t need to necessarily go and use qualitative research for. I could have solved it through other tools basically. So let me stop there, you tell me if that makes sense or not Jamin and we can go from there.


Jamin Brazil: Yes it makes perfect sense to me. And I have not actually heard it framed that way in terms of qualitative research getting narrower and narrower. But it is interesting and I actually think categorically market research is getting narrower and narrower. Data utilization is increasing so we’re seeing the total utilization space increase which means we are seeing growth in market research as a category but like proportionately we’re seeing less growth relative to CX, UX and data science. But anyway, the thing that really strikes me is that surveys, they are conversations at scale. Meaning that they’re a poor substitute for actually a human connection. But they’re a necessary evil because we can’t talk to 10,000 people. What is amazing is that modern companies have so much data on their users that to your point like it’s just a lot better for them to be able to just look at the behavioral data in order to make decisions on what’s working and what’s not working. Qualitative research of course fills that that void as to the why? Are you seeing, like when you think about the disruption that qualitative research needs to happen, is there a specific area or technology that you think is missing?


Yogesh Chavda: Yes there is some gaps that exists today in my opinion. Part of the problem that we’re going to face as an industry is that again we’re becoming single capability oriented companies. One company offers X, somebody else offers Y, somebody else offers Z as an option. And it falls on the client then to connect the dots across the three. I do think that the need for integration is going to become higher and higher. So let me give you an example. If I have a company that’s offering me voice analytics today from a customer experience platform perspective and then I have another company that’s offering me image analytics as another option where they’re analyzing pictures from Instagram for example. There are companies that do that for example. How do I then start thinking about connecting all those things together, so I’m able to see things? It may sound like ludicrous, what does voice and image have to do with each other? But the reality is, is that if you’re thinking about doing some sort of like brainstorming or ideation session, where you want to be able to analyze information at scale, that could be an interesting place for people to go play. And if they were able to offer an integrated tool in that particular example. Another simple thing that I point out to people all the time is when you think about focus groups and you have seven people in a room who are being interviewed by a moderator, we all know and we all have experienced the fact that you have three to four of the seven or eight people who tend to dominate the time. And the other people are listening patiently, they may be looking at facial expressions or whatever. And depending on who’s in the back room or the moderator, may or may not capture all that kind of information and it may be in passing in some cases. But today with image recognition and facial recognition capabilities, imagine if you’re able to capture everyone’s information as they’re reacting to somebody talking in a room? Things like that where you could potentially be able to capture more information might be interesting. Again, I’m not saying that this is a big idea but I’m just trying to point out that there are gaps today in terms of how much information is not being captured or is being lost simply because we’re doing things quote unquote the traditional way.


Jamin Brazil: And you’re right, there is a tremendous amount of loss of data utilization. Even down to like survey data. Billions of completes are done on survey platforms, open ended responses are asked or questions are asked why did you say that? Etcetera, and that data because you have 10,000 responses of people that ask that, there’s oftentimes a subset maybe they’ll look at 100 responses but most of that data is actually lost. It’s a huge opportunity. And then when you layer into that video open ends which is a huge growth area in consumer insights. So think about like that same question but now a video response. Again, there’s not somebody who’s generating a highlight reel of those responses or analyzing the emotional, the facial recognition or P at scale. And so it’s a really interesting, I can’t wait for your talk. I’m super excited about that.


Yogesh Chavda: I’m excited too.


Jamin Brazil: So let’s talk about, let’s talk about this space of consumer insights. What do you see as some of the biggest or the biggest issue that we’re facing today?


Yogesh Chavda: I think the biggest issue, so let me speak about it from a client side and then I’ll speak about it from a vendor side as well. So on the client side, I would say that there are a couple of things that are going on. One, most CPG companies traditionally have sizable consumer insights functions. There are companies like where I’m at right now where they’re starting to build out an insights function. But the reality is in both scenarios I’m not 100% convinced that we necessarily have a seat at the table with the key decision makers all the time. Partially that’s being driven by the fact that we are unable to get the right information to the decision makers in a timely manner. That’s still an issue. And then the second part of it is the value that you’re really bringing to the party. You only get a seat if you’re adding value to those conversations. And I think there’s a major gap there still today. I wouldn’t say that our industry is necessarily one that completely. On the vendor side I will say two things. I still see a lot of people who think traditionally about insights. And given the degree of disruption that’s going on today, people need to embrace technology and analytics and data science much more closely than we have until now. And quite frankly speaking if you look at so many people who’ve become independent, I would actually argue and say that there’s actually an oversupply of moderators and quote unquote generalists that are out there. Who are probably struggling because of the fact that they, that the world has moved past them. And I know that sounds really harsh. I know I kind of found myself in that situation a few years ago myself. So my ask to everyone would be that retool yourself. Because disruption is already happening. And you need to be part of the disruption you can’t be left behind.


Jamin Brazil: There’s this connection between the company needs to disrupt itself in order to stay relevant. And similarly we as humans need to go through that exact same exercise.


Yogesh Chavda: Yes absolutely. And this is going to sound so like cliche about what I’m going to say next but about 10 years ago, I was thinking about writing a book. And I had the title of the book. I never wrote the book. And then the last few years I now somehow wonder whether I should even write the book now especially after what happened with COVID. But the title of the book was called In Search of Normal. I was thinking about this 10 years ago. Because as I was looking at the fourth industrial revolution that’s going on already and how things like the Internet of Things has become such a big deal. Blockchain has become such a big deal, AI has become such a big deal and I can keep going on and on in terms of other things that are disrupting around us. It’s going to change the set of expectations consumers have. It’s going to change the experience levels that people have. And it won’t be the same sort of experience that everyone has at the same time. So given that it was it’s really important for us as an insights organization or as an insights industry. That if we want to be relevant and if we want to add value, we have to embrace these disruptions that are coming up around us and start mapping out what the opportunities really are from that? And start helping organizations see what can happen if you’re providing that kind of value moving forward. Versus us sticking to our traditional tools and saying that this is how we do it and this is the representative sample and so on and so forth. That’s not the surefire way of success anymore.


Jamin Brazil: It is interesting for me being in this space for two and a half decades. It used to be the case that you didn’t have to disrupt yourself but maybe once in your career. And now the rate of change is so high with just thinking about the requirement of digitizing market research from a process perspective. It feels like we have to do some level of disruption on an annual basis.


Yogesh Chavda: Yes you do. And that’s the scary part isn’t it? Which basically means that we think that our education stops after we graduate from university. Well and maybe the first four or five years of your career when you’re still learning about how to work in the real-world quote unquote. I would say that today you have to be a continuous learner. You cannot stop, doesn’t matter how old you are. Jamin, I’m like you, I’ve been in the industry for two and a half decades plus as well. And my eyes literally opened up back in 2013 when I realized about all these things called, like the Internet of Things and blockchain and AI and all that stuff when I was in the corporate world back then. My mind was completely not even aware of these things to be honest with you. But only once I started my consulting company and I started having to search for clients and I started seeing all these things happening. That’s when I got like wow there’s so much that we could be doing if we just positioned and create the right kinds of tools to offer companies. I’m not that smart to create those tools but I’m quite certain there are lots of smart people in our industry who could create those tools and make a lot of money doing it basically.


Jamin Brazil: My last question, what is your personal motto?


Yogesh Chavda: I have one that has stuck with me since I actually started working back in the early 90s. It’s basically insight to action. That’s it. Be clear about what is it that you’re finding out and are you able to drive action from it or not? If you’re unable to do that then the insight’s worth nothing.


Jamin Brazil: Our guest today has been Yogesh Chavda, Head of Insights at WS Audiology. Thank you very much for joining us, sir.


Yogesh Chavda: Thank you so much for having me.


Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, this episode was made possible by QUAL360. I hope you will join us in Washington DC, March 8th through Wednesday March 9th, 2022. Empowering insights through emotions. Have a great rest of your day.