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quantiCon: Brand Innovation Panel with Nestlé and Mission Foods

In this session, we are joined by Nestlé and Mission Foods to discuss how to leverage technology, agile insights, & iterative research to stay innovative.


In this session of our inaugural quantiCon event, quantilope’s Head of Client Development, Katelyn Ferrara, joined by Ashley Starck, Consumer & Marketplace Insights Manager at Nestlé Nutrition (Gerber team), and Steve Klingele, Director of Consumer Insights and Innovation at Mission Foods, discuss how to leverage technology and agile insights for advanced, iterative research projects to support product innovations. 


Panelist Backgrounds: 

The consumer insight teams at Gerber and Mission Foods are both quite lean, focused on making the most out of their budgets with advanced, innovative research. With continuously expanding needs, both teams require access to quick, affordable solutions to gain actionable insights to their business questions at hand. 


Basic concept tests alone no longer meet industry demands, especially as some retailers only consider a product reset once a year, creating a narrow window of opportunity to get a product tested and pitched in time for consideration.


The Need for Innovative Solutions: 

Faced with these challenges to continuously expand research efforts with less time and money, teams like Gerber and Mission Foods looked toward research vendors that could keep them competitive in their respective markets. The Mission Foods team can recall their shift from familiar research to using quantilope’s platform for these higher level solutions: 


“For us to get things done, we have to be more cognizant of our costs. We’ve got a lot more things going on [and] a lot more areas we’re looking into that we didn’t look into before....we’ve got to go places we’re not necessarily comfortable with and that takes a whole lot more learning.” - Steve Klingele, Mission Foods


Ashley and the Gerber team recall their experiences with traditional research vendors as taking a lot of time and energy to iron out contracts and then waiting weeks for a report, with little room for actual product changes or improvements by the time results come in. In fact this is what led the Gerber team to quantilope as they weighed new opportunities: 


“We were looking for an opportunity to get nationally representative, large sample, quantitative reads quickly and more frequently … now we have the opportunity to do a lot more research for the same price.” -  Ashley Starck, Nestlé Nutrition



Innovation and Iteration: 

The Gerber team relies on advanced research to uncover ways to expand consumption or explore new categories and consumers. Using advanced methods (like a MaxDiff or Conjoint) in addition to basic concept testing has allowed the Gerber team at Nestlé to be better equipped in optimizing their innovations.


The Mission Foods team also heavily leverages advanced methods (especially MaxDiff) to reach new consumers. For their team, advanced, iterative research has allowed them to test multiple versions or characteristics in a product’s innovation process, which is something they really value as they break out of their traditional boundary lines.  


“Even when we wanted to tweak an idea and retest it, it’s been very simple for us… the timelines are short, the costs are easy to manage within the budget, so we can reset and do it again and see how things change. It allows us to see [if we’re] moving along the right direction as these products move forward.” - Steve Klingele, Mission Foods.



The Gerber team agrees iteration is extremely valuable for their research and development, and quantilope allows them to meet demands that often third-party research agencies can not. As Ashley from Nestlé remarks: 


“It’s so easy how I can use the same survey template [and] I have my same dashboard. It just helps speed up the results and the team loves being able to see everything in real time.” - Ashley Starck, Nestlé Nutrition. 




Advice from Insight Leaders: 

Both Ashley from Nestlé and Steve from Mission Foods agree that their lives have been made easier and their research has gotten better since they began partnering with quantilope. Both teams are able to do more projects with the same (or less) amount of money than they were spending before, by streamlining their processes and using quantilope’s intuitive templates. 


One thing both teams rely on is quantilope’s team of certified research consultants to guide them through the process and recommend advanced methods that go above and beyond traditional scaling questions. 


“I was also sampling other companies and it was not as intuitive. [quantilope] was really straightforward and easy and you always have the support so you always know that someone's going to check and make sure that you didn’t totally mess it up.” - Ashley Starck, Nestlé Nutrition. 



Closing Remarks:

Quick, innovative research solutions keep teams like Gerber and Mission Foods at the top of their game. In the past they’ve had to rely on decisions that were unsupported by research data for lack of time and money. Now, they’re empowered to tackle their research needs quickly, effectively, and without any headaches, ensuring they always stay ahead of changing consumer trends.  


“Bringing on something like quantilope was really helpful to us because we’re in complete compliance with procurement, but we are now driving the timeline.” - Steve Klingele, Mission Foods. 


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