An Aggressive Innovation Strategy Reaps Dividends – PRS IN VIVO – A BVA GROUP COMPANY

An Aggressive Innovation Strategy Reaps Dividends

As our CEO, Alex Hunt, reported in a previous blog post, we are very happy that PRS IN VIVO was named #14 in the Top 50 Most Innovative Suppliers in the world by the GreenBook 2019 GRIT Report. It is a testimony to our legacy of innovation and an aggressive commitment to a pipeline of new products and services over the past year.

Our long history of conducting packaging and shopper research initiatives, primarily for FMCG clients, has been marked by invention of many best-in-class research solutions.  But as a result of disruptions in the FMCG and Marketing Research industries, we were compelled to evolve quickly in the last year, stepping up our commitment to innovation and agile solutions.

I can’t help feeling that I have the best job in the Company! In my role as Chief Innovation Officer for PRS IN VIVO and as a member of the Innovation Task Force at our parent company, BVA Group, I have certainly seen the challenges faced by our global clients.  But I am also privileged to manage a terrific team who embraces these challenges as opportunities to use our expertise, ingenuity, and creativity, developing genuinely effective new solutions that help our clients drive real business impact.

It is an exciting time for marketing research and FMCG brands because we have never had so much access to consumers before, to their behavioral data, or,  through the application of technology, the ability to interpret this vast amount of consumer data so quickly and efficiently. In 2018, we had decided to re-shape our innovation strategy, placing innovation at the top of the company’s priority list.  We went from being a company with a handful of innovation projects each year to an innovation-focused organization.  As such, our brand new global innovation team was created, whose members were tasked to investigate various avenues for product and service development, integrating behavioral expertise and technology, ranging from AI to VR, and everything in between! In a matter of weeks, a refined innovation strategy and accelerated product pipeline was put together, which would usher in a number of new products and services starting in late that year.

In November 2018, PRS IN VIVO released PackFlash®: an automated online packaging screening tool that provides insights from real consumers in a matter of days. “This service has really been helpful to many of our clients.  Increasingly they are  under time and budget pressures, but still need to be able to validate their designs prior to launching into market, using a tool that’s grounded on actual consumer behavior.” says Scott Brill, SVP at PRS IN VIVO and head of our Accelerated Behavioral Insights Unit.

PackFlash® was only the beginning.

In early 2019, we re-imagined  our flagship in-person packaging and shopper research service. “We saw an opportunity to up our game by marrying the observation in our Shopper Labs and documentation of consumer behavior with proven technology to measure behavioral drivers in environments that come closest to approximating shopper reality.” says Sam Albert, Chief Operating Officer at PRS IN VIVO.  This upgraded service, aptly named Next Generation In-Context Research, includes modular features such as the use of a non-intrusive biometric bracelet to capture emotion at shelf and at the second moment of truth, along with proven Eye-Tracking and in-store shopping journey videos.

We subsequently doubled down on the application of artificial intelligence to our extensive database of pack and shelf designs, to enhance our AI Pack Screener service, a tool launched in April of this year that combines human expert analysis with artificial intelligence to identify winning packaging designs. The service is not only quick, turning around results in as little as one day, but has also proven to be extremely accurate and predictive in our validation processes.

All these product launches are helping us transcend beyond traditional packaging validations and shopper evaluations into new territory that enables us to develop powerful predictive recommendations around total shopper and product experience.  We have taken advantage of the most sophisticated technology in the market to derive insights from the multiple sources of consumer data available. Our goal is to continue to provide our clients with real life outcomes, by using our behavioral science framework to interpret the consumer data that our technology gathers.

In a sub-category of the GRIT “Most Innovative” lists, we are additionally proud to have been acknowledged as one of the Top 20 Most Innovative Qualitative Research Agencies in the world.  We are thrilled that clients are seeing the value in innovations we are introducing in qual research, like our BeQual™ Toolkit.  This innovation uses tablet technology to automate data collection in projective behavioral techniques, at the same time providing real-time data links that truly brings the viewing room to clients virtually, and shorten the turn-around time for analysis and recommendations.

And we will not stop there. We have a few very exciting upcoming launches in the latter part of 2019, starting with our new Omnichannel Path-to-Purchase offering.  This service will allow  us to provide deeper understanding of  the consumer journey across physical and digital commerce touch points, and most importantly will reveal opportunities for our clients to influence shopper behaviors that drive purchases and brand growth.

We will also be introducing a state-of-the-art Virtual Reality tool that will help our clients uncover true in-store shopping behaviors that simulates shopper environments without needing permission from retailers, or in situations where budget is limited.

As the saying goes:  “all in a day’s work” for the Innovation team!  But our aggressive innovation strategy continues to enable PRS IN VIVO to evolve to meet clients’ ever intensifying challenges and grow their businesses,  and achieve recognition among the most innovative research companies in the world.

THE AUTHOR

Emilie Boutes Eberly, Chief Innovation Officer, leads the PRS IN VIVO innovation and technology teams, responsible for the strategic direction of the firm’s innovation pipeline. Hailing from France, Emilie has been in the industry across various roles for nearly 20 years starting in Australia heading a large fieldwork agency then shifted to the research side. Joining PRS IN VIVO in 2006, she moved to the US, where she led a large research team across various global accounts including PepsiCo & Unilever. Her role has also included leadership of technology, IT and operations globally.

Since 2016, she has been based in the PRS IN VIVO offices in Paris, where she works closely with the innovation and strategy teams of the Company’s parent, BVA Group.