Organic Valley: farming insights to power new product development

Organic Valley’s Senior Director of Consumer Strategy, Tripp Hughes, reveals how insights shape NPD at the farming co-operative.

Tripp Hughes, Senior Director of Consumer Strategy

When you work for a fast-paced F&B brand, continually developing and marketing new products, there are always lots of decisions to be made. Tripp Hughes, Senior Director of Consumer Strategy at Organic Valley, is tasked with helping his teams make the right ones. 

“I am director for consumer insights and so constantly working with my team and helping them uncover insight areas around our consumers,” he says. 

Attest has become a key tool for Hughes, who uses it to fuel innovation, speed up iteration and nail down the most effective messaging. He explains how the platform played a pivotal role in the development of Organic Valley’s latest breakfast innovation, Egg Bites, uncovering surprising insight.

“We were able to identify the top three flavors that we then wanted to bring into the pilot labs. But while our primary insight was around flavors, we also got back a secondary unanticipated insight around how the consumers were clustered around the naming of products as well. 

“It wasn’t just around choosing the right flavor but it was choosing the right flavor in the context of a broader name. To get specific, one of the options was ‘spicy tomato salsa egg bites’ and the consumers said it reminded them of the Mexican dish huevos rancheros. And so then we were able to test ‘spicy tomato salsa egg bites’ versus ‘Mexican egg bites with rancheros salsa’.”

Hughes and his team noticed that small tweaks to the name could have a big impact on the flavors respondents said they were most interested in. For example, ‘New York pizza egg bites’ proved to be more attractive than plain ‘pizza egg bites’.

“Attest gives us the ability to get these quick a-ha’s at a low threshold,” he says. “I’m trying to get more of my partners that I work with internally to go, ‘yeah I don’t have a huge amount of funds, but I need to ground my hunch’, and then once they start to understand that, they dive in more.” 

Making 10-fold savings

Hughes estimates that being able to make quick initial learnings through Attest saves Organic Valley between 10 to 20 times what it would cost to make the discoveries later down the line. 

“Folks who are launching new products, they know the importance of getting a quick read, to get a quick iteration,” he says. “The impact is coming in reduced time and improved next-round thinking that we’re taking into focus groups where we’ve got a high cost factor. If we don’t go in with the right materials and the right framework, we’re wasting money. And so Attest has helped us do a lot of the front-end work that then we’re able to go and build on.”

The short quantitative surveys that Organic Valley run on Attest often allow them to bypass bigger quantitative research. And where more expensive qualitative research is required, the quant feedback lets Hughes go in preloaded with good directional hunches. 

“Through the short surveys we’re often getting at some of the most important nuggets. And so by running a couple of shorts, that can help set us up and save money.”

Critical for internal alignment

As well as using Attest for NPD, Organic Valley has adopted the platform for testing campaign creative and packaging designs. By A/B testing, Hughes aims to understand what resonates best with the brand’s target audience. For a recent campaign he was able to blend the best performing attribute from different pieces of creative into one fully-optimized ad. 

“It lets me see if the campaign is meeting its metrics – without Attest, I’m not sure.”

He adds that getting consumer feedback at each phase is also critical for internal alignment: “We’re able to get a quick-read so that the teams I work with can check back in with the broader group of stakeholders and say, ‘here are the reasons I believe that we’re on track, that we can be successful, here’s the feedback we’ve gotten and where we’ve tweaked’. Attest’s role in doing that is perhaps where it’s the most valuable.” 

In the past, getting a ‘quick-read’ could take four weeks, and so brand managers found it difficult to justify their decisions when they were challenged on them. Now, that’s not the case.

“Literally a week ago we were in an innovation launch meeting and the brand managers ran up against a stone wall with some internal folks who said, ‘I don’t know that I agree with you’. And so the brand manager said, ‘well, what if I could quickly run it against some research with our target audience?”

For Hughes, the key benefit of a solution like Attest is the democratization of insights. With the platform accessible to employees across Organic Valley, everyone who needs insights can get them in a matter of hours.  

“It’s not entirely on me as an insights director; I can set it up so that some of our younger associates can start to dive in and construct their own surveys. And, honestly, for me as a director, that’s powerful because there aren’t a lot of ways they can do that.”

Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 100m global consumers. She also likes cake.

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