Profile: Kyle Rhodes, Director of Mobile Shopper Insights, Samsung Electronics America
It was 2012 and Kyle Rhodes was due for a job change. After spending time at places like Cadbury, Dr Pepper/Snapple, PepsiCo and Mission Foods as well as running his own consulting practice, the thought of working on something outside of food and beverages was refreshing. Rhodes knew he needed a different challenge and saw an opportunity through creating a new role in shopper insights with Samsung Mobile.
Please describe your current position.
RHODES: As director of mobile shopper insights, I oversee a team focused on understanding how consumers shop and why they buy smartphones, smartwatches and mobile accessories. We follow shoppers throughout the purchase journey, studying interactions with key touchpoints. Most of what we do focuses on understanding ways to make the shopping and buying experiences easier. Shopper insights are at the heart of Samsung Mobile. We influence strategic and tactical decisions.
What emerging technology and techniques do your team leverage at Samsung?
RHODES: We do a ton of mobile surveys. We’ve also invested in virtual environments to quickly test changes to merchandising and shelf layout. We test in the virtual environment and optimize, then bring it to life in our retail lab and see how well the virtual environment matches with the physical.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your team’s work?
RHODES: With the pandemic, there are lots of things we have to do differently. Take shop-alongs. We’re still able to do this today, but we’re using mobile surveys, geo-fencing and video to help. We’re doing a lot more online due to COVID-19: online focus groups, online surveys and passive metering.
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What’s the biggest challenge facing CPG companies related to data and analytics?
RHODES: Simply bringing data and analytics to life. Whether it’s storytelling or using video, companies need to be able to present lots of meaningful data and make it relevant and actionable. It’s part science and art. Of course, speed is another challenge. We need to get insights as real-time as possible to be able to influence changes in the market – especially in technology, where speed is everything.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
RHODES: Working around so many talented people. The technology is cool, but it’s the people that make it all happen. I have a great team: thinkers and storytellers, PowerPoint wizards and cross-tab masters. They’re fun and nerdy in the most complimentary of ways. They help answer hard questions and present insights at a blistering pace so that we can bring ideas to life and make shopping for mobile better.
RHODES: Our latest mobile path to purchase work was robust. It was comprised of qualitative and quantitative research in-store and online, shopper diaries and in-the-moment videos. It took us months to put together and bring to life. It was completed pre-COVID and is still important and relevant today. We now can look back pre-COVID and see what people wanted and needed from the journey in an “ideal” state. For instance, playing with a live device is very important in understanding new features. This can be really hard for shoppers to do with stores closed, or people not being as comfortable going into a store and touching something. We’re reimagining that experience. We have to find ways to help shoppers shop. It all starts with having the right insights to help them move along the journey.