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Integrating Insights to Fuel Innovation

Stravito Jul 9, 2022

In this episode of The Consumer Insights Podcast, we speak with Yogesh Chavda, Head of Insights at WSAudiology and Founder of Y2S Consulting.

Big players in market research today seem to be losing control of the space as new businesses emerge with innovative solutions. But it's no longer about being bigger, faster, and less expensive. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, new data sources, and analytics tools all have the potential to open up unique insights and opportunities for development.

In this episode of The Consumer Insights Podcast, Thor is joined by Yogesh Chavda, Head of Insights at WSAudiology and Founder of Y2S Consulting.

They cover:

  • A practical approach to understanding and utilizing insights
  • Integrating insights to retain relevance
  • Leveraging machine learning and AI for Insights
  • The DNA of a successful insights team
  • How real-time insights influence sustainable decisions
  • How insights are leading to innovative disruption
  • How consumer insights professionals can benefit from being business-oriented
  • Four primary skills of an insight professional
  • Challenges the insight professionals face

If you’re interested in understanding how insights are on the leading edge of disruptive innovation, tune in to this episode of The Consumer Insights Podcast.

You can access all episodes of the Consumer Insights Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or use the RSS feed with your favorite player. Below, you'll find a lightly edited transcript of this episode.

Thor Olof Philogène: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Consumer Insights Podcast. Today I'm excited to have a really inspiring leader joining me for what I know will be a fantastic conversation. 

Yogesh Chavda is the Head of Insights at WS Audiology and is the Founder of Y2S consulting. Before joining WS Audiology, Yogesh has worked at Pinterest as Global Head of Insights, Spotify as Global Head of Always On Marketing, Procter & Gamble across a range of brands as Associate Director, and Kimberly-Clark as Global Director of Market Research and Analytics. 

Thank you so much for joining me today, Yogesh.


Yogesh Chavda: Thank you for having me.


Thor: Firstly, can you take a couple of minutes to tell us about yourself, your company, and how you got to where you are today? Where did your journey begin?


Yogesh: My journey started back in the days when I was in graduate school, when I decided to go for my MBA in International Business at the University of South Carolina. I fell in love with the fact that the world was globalizing and I felt that that was the pathway for my career that I wanted to embrace.

After graduation, I joined Procter & Gamble and I got very fortunate with them where over a 16-year period, I was able to not only live in six different countries with P&G, I got to do local, regional and global roles that really helped expand my horizons from an international business perspective.

Subsequently, every role that I took after that I've had a global dent to it. My current role at WS Audiology, for example, is primarily focused on the US market.

I have a colleague who manages the global side of it as well and I will say that in this particular instance at WS Audiology, focusing on the US market has been fantastic. The other area that I find fascinating is the degree of disruption that's happening across industries right now, I've just been fascinated with how that's affecting people, companies, and industries. 

I've tried to go and work with companies that are on the leading edge of disruption, whether it's companies like P&G or Spotify or Pinterest, or now WSA, they have all been on the forefront in terms of how they're leading change and how they're impacting the marketplace in ideally a positive way.


How Yogesh defines an insight 

Thor: Super interesting. With all that experience, 16 years at P&G and then having worked at companies like Pinterest and Spotify, you did really experience the leading edge of disruption. As a market insights Leader, how do you define an insight?


Yogesh: Typically, I try to separate out what are observations, facts, and then insights. I’ll give you an example in deodorants, I could tell you how many men use deodorants, that is a fact. I can tell you through quality research, how men are thinking about deodorants and why they use deodorants. 

You think about brands like Old Spice or Axe or Lynx in the UK, they have their positioning built around that, but that doesn't really talk about insights. If you want to talk about deodorants and insights, ask a person who's standing next to you: “Do you smell the person next to you? Do they smell you?"

Getting people to understand, to go beyond just the facts and the observations to the tension points that are in the consumer's or the customer's mind is when you start to really understand what those areas are that you can influence through an insight.

If they do or if you think that they do, that's actually the insight because now you've tapped into some emotion or motivation as to how people are perceiving you or how you're perceiving other people and as a consequence of that. There is a tension that's associated with that, and understanding what the tension is where the insight truly lies.

Getting people to understand, to go beyond just the facts and the observations to the tension points that are in the consumer's or the customer's mind is when you start to really understand what those areas are that you can influence through an insight.


Achieving growth through behavioral insights

Thor: That's super powerful and you've obviously done that really well. If I take a look at your LinkedIn profile, it mentions that you've helped multiple B2B companies achieve 50% revenue growth grounded in behavioral insights. Could you talk a little bit about that?


Yogesh: Yes. The long and short of this is that you have to do three things: you need to understand who your target audience is, and within that target audience, what is it about them that would motivate them to want to consider your brand or your business proposition as the best option that they have for them. 

From a behavioral perspective that requires you to think of two things: are they willing to put you into their consideration set?, number one, and number two, how many adjustments do they have to do to their behavior to bring your brand into their consideration set?

Let's take Spotify as an example. Before the days of streaming music that was pretty prevalent, but think about what were the options before that. It was the iPod and before that, it was the CDs and before that, it was the cassette tapes and before that, it was the record. 

In the span of 40 years, we've gone from records and radio records, and so on and so forth all the way up to streaming music. Every time there was a shift that happened, there were two drivers behind each of them.

One was the fact that these technology changes made things easier for people to listen to music when they wanted to listen to it and the jump to streaming in particular, not only did that, because you could listen to music through your smartphone but it also helped personalize things. 

You could listen to personalized playlists. Personalized music basically is the nirvana for people wanting to essentially understand how they can make music unique to them. The behavior looks similar between people, but their motivation for why they're listening to personalized music is very different. 

When brands like Spotify tap into those underlying motivations, they can actually lead to behavior change where you can say, hey, if I'm an occasional music listener, how do I make them into becoming a full-time music listener on Spotify, versus the radio or some other devices that may be available? 

It's those things that brands like Spotify have been doing very successfully in driving up engagement. Even things like when you download an app and how you drive engagements for week one or day one, week one week two, et cetera.

You can actually look at data and figure out exactly what are those steps you need to take to help drive engagement with users over that period of time and we had done some work on that specifically, so we could drive up the user engagement within the first week of consumers downloading the app as example.


Why market and consumer insights are important

Thor: Super interesting. I think we've touched a bit on this now with behavioral insights and you've implicitly talked a bit about the value that companies benefit from, but in your opinion, what is it that makes market and consumer insights so important?


Yogesh: The reality is that people work inside an industry and they work inside a company. When you look at the profile of the employees that work inside a company, oftentimes they tend to stick within the same industry, because there's an experience base and a knowledge base that comes along with that which is good. I think that's really needed. 

On the flip side, there are also some downsides to that. If the world is changing around you, if you're not paying attention to those shifts, then you could potentially find yourself being trapped into a corner, because you don't know what's happening, and why things are happening. 

In my life, I saw this happen a couple of times. The first time was when I was a Kimberly-Clark and I saw how single-mindedly focused they were on brands like Kleenex or brands like Cottonelle. 

They knew everything about facial tissue. They knew everything about paper, but the world was starting to change at that time with technology and people's behaviors were starting to shift, and if brands like those did not pay attention to those shifts that were happening, they would find themselves struggling.

You cannot afford to not be outwardly looking and factoring that into your business planning process. You have to do that today because with disruption comes uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes ambiguity, and with ambiguity, you need clarity on what to do.

That's when my eyes actually opened up at the speed of change that was happening in the world. We all know in the last two years in particular, how quickly things have changed and my whole point is that every industry is being affected, every company's being infected. 

You cannot afford to not be outwardly looking and factoring that into your business planning process. You have to do that today because with disruption comes uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes ambiguity, and with ambiguity, you need clarity on what to do.

Those things are completely interconnected to each other and the insights professionals have to be able to look at all those things and help an organization understand what they should do, given the ambiguity that's there because you have choices. 

“How do you decide on those choices?”, and “Are those the right choices in the first place?,” has to be the starting point in the conversation. I'm not saying that people are not smart. There are very smart people out there. There's a role for the insights professional to play in enabling smart organizations from being even smarter.


Thor: I really like that. I also like how you very much painted the picture of the danger if you don't do it right, but if you take a look at what some of the benefits that you would get if you actually access, if you analyze, if you integrate insights, what does that allow businesses to do?

Why is it the case that all of a sudden that the big players in market research today are no longer the ones owning that space?

Yogesh: What it allows you to do is at a very granular level, it allows you to survive. It allows you to survive.


Thor: Very important.


Yogesh: Let me ask you this question. Look at the market research industry today. I spoke in Washington DC at the Qual360 Conference where I was making this point: “For how long has the market research industry been talking about better, faster, cheaper?” At least a couple of decades, if not more. 

That has helped, no question, but why is it the case that all of a sudden that the big players in market research today are no longer the ones owning that space?

Innovation is not to move from an in-person focus group to an online focus group. That's not innovation for me. That's just the cost of doing business. 

There are thousands of new companies that have emerged offering new solutions. Why is that? Technologies have enabled new options to be made available for those who work in the quality of research space for example. Those who love to do focus groups where you have 8 to 10 people in a room and you're talking to them. I've done my share of focus groups. 

Innovation is not to move from an in-person focus group to an online focus group. That's not innovation for me. That's just the cost of doing business. 

Innovation is when you factor in machine learning or AI alongside that, that gives you real-time sentiment analysis or real-time emotion facial analysis across multiple people that's now layering on top analytics alongside the quality work that could happen, that could completely disrupt and change the way you're analyzing a simple focus group.

Think back to the days when we did in-person focus groups where you had one or two people talking, everybody else was silently listening in a focus group. Is that what we still want to have? 

Those companies who offer that, are you going to survive in the world of machine learning and AI and sentiment analysis? I would say you may have some runway and you'll soon find companies doing it, no question, but the value of that is going down.


Integrating insights to fuel innovation

Thor: Let's spend some more time talking about this. Let's drill a bit deeper in the innovation side of the question. Looking back at your career, there are ample examples, I'm sure, where you've really integrated insights, but to fuel innovation and innovation that has enabled you to build a better campaign or a better project or even product.


Yogesh: I can name quite a few. I'll give a couple of examples of projects that I was involved in or was peripherally involved in that I saw. I've mentioned one from my days at P&G. I can certainly mention one or two from my more recent past. 

Let me give you an example from my days at P&G. I worked on a beverage brand in the Middle East called Punita. In Germany, the brand is called Punica. In the US, it's called Sunny Delight

When I joined the Middle East team, they had started a test market in Dubai and they were trying to basically maximize the value of the test market before they launched it in Saudi Arabia and across all the other Gulf countries. 

What they found during the test market is that we were hardly getting a 1% market share and the goal was to get like 30% market share. This is a four-version lineup of fruit juices, orange, apple, mango, and mixed fruit. We couldn't figure out why we were not successful.

Within a six-month period, I had to go back and relearn everything that we should have learned prior to the launch of the customer. Things like we found that when they were designing the products, they designed it in a way that they wanted to beat fresh juices so oranges would have to have the bits inside of it and things like that. 

In the process of trying to beat natural juices, the team had over-engineered the quality of the product. If you had 100 ml Tetra Pak of this fruit juice, it felt like you were drinking a milkshake, not a juice, but to keep that product stable, you have to have a Tetra Pak that you put in the chiller section of the grocery store to keep the product stable. 

The product itself, the packaging itself is very thick. In a hot climate like Dubai, when you are coming out of the heat, in the summer heat, and you come into a mom-and-pop corner store, the first thing you do is you look at the package.

You touch the package to see how warm or cold it is because you want something cold. This Tetra Pak doesn't tell you how warm or cold the product is inside, so in my first moment of truth I've already lost. 

My second moment of truth when I drink it, I feel like I drank a milkshake. In a hot climate, you don't want to drink a milkshake. In a hot climate, you want to have something that's closer to water so you can drink a lot of it to stay hydrated. Both those things were missed and the research that we did to identify these as the key issues and ultimately led to that.

We concluded that what we had launched was not the right thing, and we pulled the plug on this one and we stopped losing money as a process in this case. This was one of the first projects I worked on at P&G. I remember thinking to myself, like, "Oh my gosh, everything that you should not do to launch a product I learned from that experience itself."


Learnings from successes and mistakes

Thor: Super interesting and going back to what you said there about having to relearn everything you really should have learned before, how did you get to that? How did you identify those insights and how did it happen? Any advice there? Any learnings from having done that?


Yogesh: Now, we look back across my entire career. As market researchers, we get focused on the tool or the capability. I do mystery shopping. I do product testing. I do concept testing. We consider that to be a success that I can place a concept test and analyze the concept test. 

That's only one part of it. You have to be able to link it back to what's in it for the consumer or the user, number one, and number two, and what's in it for the company to make it financially successful. You have to know those things alongside the basics of doing your market research work as well. 

My biggest frustration in this industry is that I meet a lot of people who are wonderful market researchers. They are fantastic. They know how to execute market research in a very good way, and they're successful at what they do, no question. 

When you can connect those dots directly in a way that can actually help the business leaders make the right call and it actually leads to success, then you know that your insights are actually being acted upon or not. 

What separates them from the crème de la crème, in my opinion, is that those who are the crème de la crème are the ones who know how to really know how to run a P&L of their own. They know that what I'm sharing as an insight will actually influence the top line or will influence the bottom line. 

When you can connect those dots directly in a way that can actually help the business leaders make the right call and it actually leads to success, then you know that your insights are actually being acted upon or not. 

That success rate is what's absolutely critical. In my career, I gave you the example of Punica. I had a similar experience that happened in Western Europe where we were launching Secret Deodorant. We did a lot of right things, but there are some things that we did wrong. It wasn't a successful launch for Secret Deodorants in Western Europe for me. 

I learned from those experiences, so by the time I went to North America and then subsequently to South America, I made sure we did not repeat those issues again. When I look at my work, what I did on Press 3D, in Oral Care or the launch of Olay In Shower Body Lotion or what's the other line that we launched...

There's another one that we launched in body wash, which is a new technology that we launched, or the launch of Pantene in Brazil. I was taking the learnings from my experiences in Saudi or in Dubai and in Western Europe and making sure that we did not repeat those mistakes again. I was influencing the organization to factor those in. 

Thankfully, they were listening to me, and we were far more successful with those launches as a consequence of that.


Lessons from across industries

Thor: We're so fortunate to be able to benefit from that body of knowledge and experience that you have, and maybe for our listeners, tapping it a bit more. You've also worked throughout very different organizations throughout your career, and I'm sure there are lessons that you have learned that also hold across industries. Could you share some of those?


Yogesh: Yes. CPG is a great place to learn the foundations of doing market research. There's no question about it. They do a lot of market research. You see a lot of vendors that sell into CPG companies overall. 

From a foundational perspective, I think that's a great place to learn, but in today's reality, where the cutting-edge innovation is actually happening is actually in the tech space. Look at Google. Look at Amazon. Look at Microsoft. Look at Spotify or Pinterest.

They're doing a lot of cutting-edge work, which is starting to play into the space of what I call ‘Always-on Insights’ or ‘Real-time Insights’ that can actually make or break things. 

At Pinterest, for example, the concept of ‘Always-on Insights’ was brought to fruition, in my opinion, when I was there when COVID was just starting. We agreed as an organization to launch this newsletter where we were sharing what were Pinterest users doing the prior two weeks in terms of behaviors.

We were sharing this with all our clients initially in the US. First couple of weeks, it was the US. By the end of week three, we were doing this across eight countries. We were sharing local data in those eight countries with those local clients, what was happening as a consequence of COVID in terms of user behavior. 

By sharing it on a weekly basis, two things happened. The first thing that happened is that our clients were saying, “Oh, my gosh, you guys are sharing something that I can personally use for myself.”

We all remember those dark days in March and April 2020 when things have completely gone haywire, people were using that information to help them live their own lives. Example being, “How do I build a home office? How do I keep my kids entertained, because they're not at school?” Things like that. That was one part. The second part was it kept a degree of engagement with our clients.

They didn't necessarily pull back your advertising, even during the darkest days of COVID. 

They kept on investing behind that, behind Pinterest. We saw the metrics change relative to our competitors Snapchat and Instagram, everybody else, where our clients were basically saying that Pinterest was actually offering better insights that were actionable to them in terms of what they could do for themselves and for their brands.

That was actually totally valuable to us because it was helping us maintain our revenue goals, and deliver our revenue goals as a consequence of that when everybody else was retrenching, basically. 

I will say one more thing about that whole experience around ‘Always-on Insights’. It's not just about throwing numbers across, it's connecting it to what you need to do for your brand. One example I was doing at the time is to think about the mark of brands that say, "Drink responsibly."

That was built in the context of drinking and driving, but during the dark days of COVID, we were seeing an increase in domestic violence, nobody was driving. If you're seeing an increase in alcohol consumption, “Drink responsibly” does not stand for drinking and driving, it stands for no domestic violence. 

Shifts like that don't come to us from the creative side, it also comes from connecting dots from different data points and then coming up with the insight around that, basically.


Thor: It's fascinating. I think that in the Pinterest example, I think that the value those clients would get from those every two-week updates of insights must go well beyond their engagement with Pinterest. I can definitely see how that's the case.


Yogesh: Absolutely. I'll take it one step further. I was bringing a lot of attention to this across the market research industry as to who was sharing insights on changes that were happening in the marketplace because of COVID? 

I was looking at all the companies that were publishing tracking data from the big consulting companies like Boston Consulting, all the way to the outsources of the world, and so on, so forth. I was trying to see where I am with my weekly newsletter that I was sharing?

Am I on the back end after everybody else has shared, or am I on the front end? I could say with a lot of confidence that barring BCG who was a step ahead of me for the most part, I was a close second. Everybody else was about a month, a month and a half behind me. 

To me, I think that is one of the other reasons why I think clients were listening to us a lot more because we were talking about things way before it was being published by other market research sources, that's the value of first-party data in mining.


Essential tools for insights professionals

Thor: Very much so and going back to your initial motto of ‘Staying at the leading edge of disruption and really being ahead of the curve’ or at least ahead of the pack in terms of bringing those insights. You've mentioned it slightly, but we haven't gone deep into it, but tooling, what do you believe are the essential tools that exist and that can support insights professionals and why?


Yogesh: I'm a big believer in automation. We talked about the Martech Stack, that's been thrown around about by having an Insights Stack, for example. I actually agree with that. 

From a tooling perspective, the key data points depending on the industry you're working in are going to be on data collection, data access, number one. Number two is connecting different data sources to create an integrated view of your customer or consumer.

Then the analytics that go alongside that, that link back to the company KPIs so that you can tell like, which levers to pull from within the company that could be influencing what's happening with the end user. 

Building out the data collection, the integration, the analytics, the prediction capabilities, ideally, and then knowing how to connect it to various specific internal work streams is absolutely critical.

That's the stack that I'm looking for or that's needed to deliver an insight solution so to speak. That stack doesn't exist, in my opinion, today. It's in different places if you want to call it that. 

Part of it is not having the right tools to be able to data-mine, whether it's first-party data or third-party data. There's a repository question, so companies like Knowledge Hound, for example, are struggling to solve for that as an example. Even so it's still pretty disconnected, and I would love to be able to see it having an integrated tech stack view.

That's an opportunity for somebody to come in and provide consulting capabilities to organizations so that we can know what's that roadmap and to build that out, basically.


The DNA of a successful insights team

Thor: I think what's interesting about your answer also is that you're basically giving us a glimpse into how things need to change in the future. 

I think if you want to be not only looking ahead of the curve when you do your work in terms of insights and predictions, you also need to understand how your needs are going to evolve? Building on that, from a team perspective, what do you believe is the DNA of a successful insights team, how does that need to look?


Yogesh: I think it's changing very rapidly. I do believe that you need to have a foundation in knowing what the basics are. Questionnaire writing is a simple one, sounds obvious, but it's an art and an experience that comes along with that as to how to ask questions is a foundational thing that I think everyone should have in market research. 

I do believe that data analytics skill sets, doing SQL or Python is now mandatory, in my opinion. One of the things that I've influenced the marketing program at the University of South Carolina is to have them incorporate data analytics into their undergraduate programs. 

Most of the students that are graduating today have some degree of experience with Power BI or Tableau or Python, or R, which gives them a bit of a leg up compared to other schools, in my opinion. 

Third skill set that I would say is connected to a very tangible area. What I mean by that is if you can connect it to the supply chain or if you connect it to a particular industry, that makes you a lot more marketable as an insights professional. 

The last thing I would say is absolutely being business-oriented. There are two things that happened in my career, which I'm eternally grateful for. One is the new product forecasting which helped me learn what to do and what not to do to launch brands from a business perspective and from a market research perspective.

When I run my own consulting company, I learned what it takes to really drive margin and to drive revenue. 

Getting that kind of experience from a sales perspective, a business development perspective, understanding what the cost structure looks like, makes you a far better market researcher because you won't go design a puristic survey, you'll design a pragmatic survey that will get you what you need, and gets the client what they want in rapid amount of time.

I'll give you an example very quickly. A couple of years ago, I was consulting for two companies at the same time, both on testing new products to launch. 

One is a very large tech company out of California, who will remain unnamed because of NDA, but you can guess who's in California. The other one is a very large confectionery company, as well, one of the top two in the world. The confectionery company took five months to qualify their new concept, and I was helping the confectionery company do that work.

The tech company came to me. I got the work done, concept writing, two testing, and validating, and sharing the results out in three weeks. You tell me which of those two companies are going to be performing or outperforming the competition, and which of those two companies has a trillion-dollar valuation at the end of the day? The answer is pretty obvious.


How to elevate insights within an organization

Thor: I think it's crystal clear. What you just told me might be part of the answer to my next question, which is really looking into the skills that you believe are essential to elevate insights, but this time elevating insights within the organization. I guess you can tie to what you just said, but I'd like to maybe get a more complete picture.


Yogesh: There are four skill sets that I paid a lot of attention to. I use this actually, as part of my interviewing process with any candidates that I interview, whether it's a new hire coming out of a university, or if it's an experienced hire with 15 years of experience. 

Number one is leadership. Leadership is not just about being able to envision things, it's also about how you are implementing and executing, and rallying people around you to follow the vision that you're outlining.

I asked a lot of questions around leadership. Number two, thinking and problem-solving. “Are you a problem solver or not? Can you think through a problem or not?“

Number three, communication and collaboration. “Are you able to influence people with what you know?” Number four, “Are you agile?” In other words, things ebb and flow, and things change sometimes on a dime, and you're going to have to work with it. 

“Are you able to deliver what you need to deliver in a manner that gets it on time, so that people can make the right decision with the information that you're providing, or are you going to be coming six months later with the right answer, but the world has already moved on since then?”

Those are the four primary skill sets and I don't care which industry, what level of experience you've got. I think these are the four things that can help you, no matter what world environment we're in at the end of the day.


Opportunities for insights professionals to challenge the status quo and make business impact

Thor: Assuming that you've found the people that have those skill sets. What would you say are the opportunities that you think exist for insights professionals to do true business impact? What advice can you give them if they need to challenge the status quo?


Yogesh: Challenging the status quo is very hard to do. I've had my share of successes and failures on that. You have to first start by understanding the culture of the company, is the company you're at open to new ideas or not, or are they close-minded? 

I don't mean this in a negative sense. There are companies that have years and years of experience internally, and they look at insights professionals and say, just keep me updated on what's happening, and that's all I need from you because I've got 15 years of experience or whatever number you want to throw out there.

That becomes the driver of that. In that environment, as a new professional or as an insights professional, your opportunity to influence is there, but it's much harder. It's much, much harder because you're going up against people with years of experience. 

On the flip side, you will have people who are new to a company or an industry, and they don't know what they don't know, they're more likely to embrace you simply because they want to learn themselves. You have to look at the company and the people who you are working with to see and map out and say, what's my room for influencing? 

As an insights professional, you need to evaluate and see what is the true culture of that company and what are the signals that they're giving you while you're going through the interview process at the end of the day. 

If you're the kind of person who likes to influence and likes to be on the cutting edge, if you go to a company where things are pretty much moving at its own pace, chances are you're going to get frustrated, and they'll get frustrated with you because they'll be listening to you coming up with new ideas, but they're not interested.

That's a fit issue in that case for you and for the company. They may have liked to have you come up with new ideas, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they want to act on those kinds of ideas. 

As an insights professional, you need to evaluate and see what is the true culture of that company and what are the signals that they're giving you while you're going through the interview process at the end of the day. 

Trust me. I've had my share of successes and failures on this one across the companies that you mentioned.

I can tell you that it's really hard when you're trying to get a job and then you have to worry about this on top. I'm okay sharing this publicly, but when I was interviewing at WSA, one of my final interviews was with the head of the US commission, and I actually told them that. 

I said, “If you want somebody to come and just share with you some information, and you say, go away, I'm not your guy. Find somebody else. If you want me to be your consigliere like in The Godfather movies, then consider me, because that's the role I want to play.”

He laughed at me when I said that. Thankfully, I got an offer, of course, and I've been there for almost two years. He's lived up to that by giving me the opportunity to at least make my case as he's making a decision. He may not agree with everything I say. I'm okay with that, but at least he gives me the opportunity to be heard, which is what I want.


Challenges facing insights teams in the near future

Thor: I'm sure the Godfather analogy made him understand that this was a serious question and you know that you really needed to have an opinion on it. Looking a bit at the wider industry and looking a bit at the insights professionals, what would you say are the challenges that the insights professionals and the wider industry face for the near future?


Yogesh: I would say the near future is ‘relevance’. Make yourself relevant. Relevance does not come from just sharing facts, relevance comes from translating those facts into actually something that the company can act on. 

The more you're showing that connection to driving topline or bottom-line growth, then you are relevant. If you are sitting there on the sidelines or being passive or waiting to be told what to do or waiting to be asked the right question or any of those scenarios, you're no longer relevant and you're considered a cost.

In a world where, and especially in the next 12 months where there's a possibility of recession, belt-tightening will be happening. Are you going to be on the revenue-grabbing side, or are you going to be on the cost-cutting side? People have to answer that question for themselves as to which side of the table they want to be.


Who Yogesh would love to have lunch with in the world of insights

Thor: They need to know what role they want to play, and then by knowing that they can definitely make sure to be part of that side. 

Yogesh, this really hurts me, but we're coming to the end of our podcast today. I think that this has been so interesting. I want to ask you one more question, which is, if you had the possibility, who in the world of customer insights would you have lunch with, who would that be?


Yogesh: That's a great question. I've been very fortunate to have worked with some amazing talent over the years, from my days at P&G and from other places as well. 

I'll mention a name, a very specific name. If she ever ends up in the States, she knows me. I'm guessing that she's going to smile when I say the name. Christina Habib who works at Unilever right now. Christina used to work with P&G, but I started off with P&G. I was in Saudi Arabia, she was in Egypt at the time and we became close colleagues.

I learned a lot from her. I lost touch with her over the years, but she's one of the smartest people I know when it comes to market research. I think I just saw something on LinkedIn the other day that she's now taking over a fairly senior role at Unilever. I think Unilever is so lucky to have her. I would mention her. She's a great person to talk to, by the way.


Thor: I'm sure I wouldn't be invited to the lunch table, but I wouldn't mind eavesdropping on that conversation, Yogesh.


Yogesh: She's got her own set of stories. Do you think I'm going to have a way to say anything? She's going to be talking the whole time because she's got so much to share.



Thor: This has been such a great and insightful conversation, Yogesh. It's fantastic to hear about your journey and how you at WS Audiology are doing to democratize and integrate insights. 

I've learned a great deal talking from you, and I'm going to play back a couple of them because I think that what you are challenging yourself to do, I think we should all challenge ourselves to do. Which is namely to work with companies, but also make sure that your work is at the leading edge of disruption.

I think that what you also said about the crème de la crème, the best out there, is insights people that actually know how to run a P&L of their own. They need to understand what is going to influence the topline, what is going to influence the bottomline. 

By knowing that, whatever insights they bring to the table would be so much more valuable for the organization. I know I've learned a great deal talking from you today, and I'm sure the audience has as well. Thank you so much for joining me today.


Yogesh: Thank you for having me. This has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you again.