Mike Button is working more closely than ever with different staff members across Ahold Delhaize. That’s because consumer insights groups from the retailer’s various chains were centralized in May into one team within Peapod Digital Labs. Button still supports The Giant Co., but now has a greater opportunity to share techniques while leveraging the strengths and experience of a larger group of researchers. Prior to coming to Giant, Button worked at Hershey for a number of years in consumer insights, supporting a wide variety of brands and new product initiatives in the U.S. and internationally. It’s likely that, if you’ve tried a new candy bar in the last 20 years, Button helped develop it. Before that, he started his career at a research supplier in Chicago.
Please describe your current role.
BUTTON: I manage a team that provides consumer insights for The Giant Co., leading quantitative and qualitative projects and brand health and CX tracking. Prior to the reorganization, I also was responsible for business insights and analytics. Now I am solely focused on consumer insights, which is my true passion.
How do consumer insights and analytics fit into your organization?
BUTTON: We provide an unbiased link between the shopper and business leaders so that her voice is heard in key decisions. We measure behaviors and attitudes in order to uncover insights, working closely with the strategy team, merchandising, marketing and operations to ensure that decisions are data-driven.
What are some of the techniques and technology that your team leverages?
BUTTON: We use a variety of techniques, but some of the more common quant methodologies are segmentation, market mix modeling, copy testing, tracking studies, price perception, conjoint [analysis], and many surveys with our web community. Qualitatively, we’re heavy users of intercept interviews and shop-alongs. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve had to add mobile shop-alongs to our repertoire in order to avoid face-to-face contact.
What are some of the biggest opportunities facing retailers these days as it relates to insights and analytics?
BUTTON: We have never had so much access to so much data about our consumers. The trick will be to pull out the insights and connect the dots. We have to do this in an environment that is becoming increasingly concerned about privacy and the protection of personally identifiable information.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
BUTTON: Three things: 1) seeing the growth in newer members of my team; 2) the “aha” moment when you’ve been banging your head against a wall on a difficult problem and you suddenly see the answer; and 3) for anyone who’s ever worked on innovation, there’s nothing quite like the moment when a project you’ve been working on for a long time shows up in the store.
BUTTON: We developed a community of consumers that we call the “Dinner Ninjas” for a year-long co-creation initiative. The same group of Ninjas were with us throughout the process, from initial exploratory and problem framing, all the way through to ideation and concept refinement. We had originally planned on sitting in the same room with our Ninjas to co-create the concepts but were forced to pivot and do everything virtually. I applaud our research partner, Leap, for adapting and providing tools that allowed us to replicate the innovation process in a remote environment. As someone who has been doing the old-school innovation process for a long time, I have to say it exceeded my expectations. Plus, the results are having a major impact on a key initiative.