Kraft Foods and Autumn Dawn McDonald: Analytical Horsepower!

Sometime in 2007, Kraft made a key decision regarding how they were going to resource in-market research. Instead of outsourcing the bulk of the work, they decided to create a small team called “In Market Testing for Growth” (IMTG) headed by Autumn Dawn McDonald who spoke today at Shopper Insights in Action 2010 sponsored by IIR US.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I worked for Kraft for over 30 years. After today’s presentation, I can say I’m still very impressed by Kraft’s analytical horsepower. Autumn went through a (masked) presentation to demonstrate how their Pre/Post/Test/Control methodology drives significant dollar value for Kraft through improved executions, providing leads for better incrementality, and avoiding missteps which could result in significant losses.

The cases Autumn shared involved aisle resets and changes to the location of brands on the store shelf. IMTG worked with brand marketing, sales, and retailers to create a robust test design that was executed in-store. Then they did the analytical work to read the results and recommended the indicated actions. And because of the results they drove, the usiness and retail partners listened. Now IMTG has brands and retail partners lining up to request testing.

There are several benefits of IMTG’s approach. It enables Kraft to learn “in context”, separate actual from “claimed” results, uncover the “whys”, optimize prior to expanding, and increase ROI. Not bad for a small group of 3 people (with support from Applied Predictive Technologies). They conducted over 40 of these tests in the last year which is a huge accomplishment by anyone’s standards.

More full disclosure: I love analytics that can be used to identify insights and drive actions to make business better. Kraft’s IMTG group is doing just that. To repeat myself, I’m still very impressed with Kraft (and Dawn’s) analytical horsepower!