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Leading the business: Lessons from Red Bull’s Shopper Insights team

Written by Alida

Published September 20, 2018

From strategic planning to brand positioning, customer insights have the potential to inform business decisions across the organization. For example, shopper insights can help retailers plan their ideal product mix, while product usage data can help companies design better products. Despite this impact, market research teams are sometimes viewed as service providers rather than strategic partners. This is problematic for companies because it means they make many decisions based on gut feeling rather than customer-validated insights.

To make the switch to strategic partner, research teams need to gather and deliver high-quality insights to their stakeholders quickly. The Shopper Insights team at Red Bull knows this all too well. Laura-Lynn Freck, director of shopper insights, and Sarah Shain, shopper insights analyst, presented at our Customer Intelligence Summit and shared how their shopper insights team earned the right to lead their organization. Here are the highlights.

Earning the right to lead

To be most effective, research teams need to engage both their customers and their stakeholders. This means providing the customer with an enjoyable research experience, while delivering value to internal stakeholders. Laura-Lynn and Sarah talked about how you can’t have one without the other, and provided these tips to help you achieve both.

1. Understand the business context.

If you want to be a strategic partner, you need to look outside your own four walls and understand what’s happening with the business, including its biggest challenges. The Red Bull team was challenged with keeping up with the dynamic retail landscape. They needed to get a better handle on the shopper journey, as well as set their brand apart from the rising competition.

They also wanted to be known as a valuable resource to their retail partners. Finally, they had to engage a community that wasn’t just focused on their brand, but on the energy drink category as a whole. With a clear understanding of the obstacles the company faced, the team was better prepared to tackle these issues strategically.

2. Cultivate customer engagement.

The team at Red Bull delivers timely insight to stakeholders because their community members actively provide them with regular feedback. Although there are many ways to keep your community engaged, the Shopper Insights team has been successful because they truly understand their community members, and know what resonates most with them.

Here are some ways the team keeps their community engaged:

Deliver a great research experience. Keep your surveys fun and short so people will want to respond. For example, where possible, Red Bull sends out quick two-question surveys accompanied by images with quirky messages to keep it lighthearted. 

Share back with the community. Show your members their input is valuable by sharing research results, as well as any actions taken as a result of those insights.

Go beyond monetary incentives. Sometimes offering free products can motivate people to participate, but many times incentives aren’t necessary. Red Bull’s energy drink community loves energy drinks so much, they’re willing to participate without getting financial rewards in return.

3. Focus on speed.

Business moves fast, and the Red Bull team knew they had to keep up. That’s why they’ve created a community of highly-engaged, opted-in consumers who can get them reliable insights in the blink of an eye. In turn, the team can quickly deliver insight to stakeholders when they need them.

One lesson the Shopper Insights team learned is to take a broad lens on insight rather than trying to get as much data as you can around one topic. Not only will this help you distribute insight more quickly, but with a wider view, those insights will be relevant to more stakeholders across the company.

4. Tell a compelling story.

Don’t just share data. Tell a great story around it by consolidating your data points around one business problem, and then offering three key points and evidence to support it. Build on what your audience already knows and share insights in bite-sized pieces like stats, snippets and illustrations.

From service provider to strategic partner

With customer insight informing so many important decisions throughout the company, market research teams can no longer settle for working behind the scenes. By positioning your team as a strategic partner, you can earn the right to lead your organization, just as the Red Bull Shopper Insights team did. For more details on best practices and community impact, please watch Red Bull’s video story.