Why brands need to communicate better to empower, educate and meet the needs of women in the menopause category
In recent weeks, we’ve highlighted the challenges women face while going through perimenopause and menopause – and the reasons we feel this is a huge and, so far, missed opportunity for brands.
So, for brands looking to explore the potential for product innovation or just improving communication in the sector, where do we go from here?
As things stand, even the established brands in the market are not even coming close to meeting the needs of women – but this is especially true when it comes to education.
There are no brands associated with running educational programs to help women diagnose and find treatment, for instance.
This means that there is a huge white space around catering to consumers’ emotional needs and finding effective long-term answers.
To tap into these drivers and grow the category, brands must educate women and empower them with simplified solutions. For example:
- Educate – implement programs that help women learn more about perimenopause and teach them how to recognise the symptoms, as well as giving them the knowledge and tools to find the right treatment options for them.
- Simplify – develop products that are easily accessible and available to women in need, and simplify their routines with solutions that either treat all symptoms at once or are single doses that treat symptoms long-term.
- Empower – grow a product line that is not only effective in managing symptoms and helping women feel in control of their bodies, but that is also aesthetically pleasing to empower women to feel young, beautiful and feminine once again.
The importance of education really, really can’t be understated here..
While a one-size-fits-all solution would be the dream if science can solve the puzzle, improved messaging and the building of supportive communities would be a positive step forward from where we are.
As we’ve made clear in our recent blogs, when we talk about education, we’re talking about women themselves – as well as wider society. This is because:
- Women experiencing perimenopause struggle to recognize symptoms and accept what is happening to them.
- Although this process is completely natural, this often leaves them feeling overwhelmed, unprepared and isolated.
- As a result, they are unlikely to look for the tools they need to diagnose and manage their symptoms to feel normal again.
In the near future (hopefully!), women should be able to easily access the right tools to research and identify the best products for their menopause needs in a simple and efficient manner. This just isn’t the case now.
As one of our research subjects said: “[The category} could learn that every woman going through perimenopause has a different experience so there should be different solutions for each woman’s needs. There should be discussions about giving women as much knowledge as possible about all the different alternative solutions so each woman can discover what works for their specific needs. Normalise perimenopause and acknowledge it’s mainly a pain in the bum!”
And that was from someone who was already managing their symptoms…
How Catalyx can help your brand
At Catalyx, our smart technology and innovative tools can support brands at any stage of your journey to perimenopause and menopause market exploration – from product audit to opportunity for your brand specifically to concept testing,to innovation building or knowing how to effectively communicate with this new, important audience. These include:
- Speak to our team to discover more about our Innovation Building Blocks, which are all you need to build out winning product innovation concepts. This tool helps you to understand the most pressing consumer unmet needs for your next innovation. In the menopause category, this is probably the biggest opportunity to meet women’s product needs. Request the menopause report to read more specifically what these needs are.
- Our Product Growth Audit can help you to ensure you increase share from current products in-market across all points of influence to beat competition. We give you both short and longer-term fixes and optimisation recommendations based on qual at quant scale and a highly behavioural/ real life approach to investigating all areas of your product through your consumers eyes. Suffice to say, the menopause market is currently a largely clinical offering – and yet targeted and empowering messages show huge upside potential. We can point the way.
- And, finally, our Communication Building Blocks will give you all the ingredients needed to build the most effective marketing campaign. In what has been a silent market for so long, there’s a huge opportunity to own the space with the right voice. Women want support, they want a community and they don’t want to face the challenges of menopause alone any longer. You could be their champion.
Get in touch to find out how Catalyx can help you unlock consumer insight to grow your brand.
Meet Mel and Tana-Maria – Catalyx strategists share their menopause research points of view
Having researched the subject of menopause for clients over the past few months, we spoke to Mel and Tana-Maria to discover their key takeaways from the project – and the brand opportunities on offer for the right businesses to make a real difference to women’s lives.
A worldwide issue
Following on from our deep dive about perimenopause in Australia and generally keeping our eye on what’s going on in the UK, we’ve recently completed some research in the US about the subject too – and, in many ways, it seems even more taboo there than it does in either Australia or the UK. So, this is very much a worldwide issue.
The sound of silence
If women are not able to talk about menopause, even to friends, relatives or colleagues in the workplace, then there’s no way we can ever improve women’s equity. There needs to be a more supported environment in place. In some ways, it’s almost Victorian at the moment – and, in 2023, it seems crazy that the female body is still so taboo that even women don’t really talk about certain subjects.
An unspoken problem
There’s a level of shame involved here. Women have a real fear that they’re standing on a precipice because they’re going through these massive life changes but don’t always fully understand what is happening – and they maybe can’t articulate the feelings or pinpoint the symptoms. It’s something that’s so unspoken, perhaps because it only happens to women and not men. Women are just left to experience it and deal with it in their own ways. Because there’s so little conversation about it, GPs can even be relatively dismissive and therefore women can’t really get a clear diagnosis – and can even start to blame menopause issues on other health conditions.
The search for solutions
We’ve noticed that women are literally crying out for help – they want someone to listen to what they have to say, whether it’s a friend or a GP professional. But it just doesn’t happen. The study we ran in Australia highlighted that there are products on the market that are available; that a small percentage of women have sought out what they can use; and some even know the details of every single ingredient in those products – but they’re not supported on an emotional level. Brands that are well-known for supplements, vitamins and other OTC medication are almost apologetic with their product placement when there are huge opportunities for education to ease the taboo.
Building a supportive community
We believe women are crying out for some sort of holistic approach. Currently, we’re in a very clinical/medical place with regards to menopause products. The wider support system in so many areas of women’s health has been helped by the feeling of building a community, which is currently lacking in this space.
Ignoring women as they age
It’s strange in a way, as products have become more rounded, informative and welcoming at all stages in women’s lives, whether they’re trying to get pregnant, taking care of the baby, taking care of themselves during and after pregnancy – but then we reach menopause, and that support stops. You always hear about female actresses or TV personalities saying that they’re written off once they reach a certain age, and so it’s a broader point about women and their position in society. It’s clear that there needs to be more importance given to enabling women with more autonomy and empowerment. It’s so important. And brands need to think about how we’ve got a huge number of women largely uncatered for in this market. There’s a real opportunity to help with products and services.
Showing that women are not alone
The hardest thing is always to break down any cultural taboos – that takes a while but is vital for getting the public conversation moving… and, in turn, helping people to be more widely appreciative and understanding. So that is going to be a longer-term solution, but brands can play a significant role to start to push the dial. A lot of this revolves around stating that intention. Just talking about it more broadly, making it more real, more accessible and something that isn’t being demonised, would help women to realise they’re not alone in going through this natural change.
A massive challenge that brands can step into
Maybe it’s because the decision makers in the health industry have so often been men and, perhaps, because women reaching menopause have tended to be more inward looking, but the menopause market has been overlooked. A massive challenge with growing any market is to find a route to authentic messaging – a way to speak directly to the customer in a sensitive way and take them along on the journey. Because of the lack of education and wider understanding, this still seems to be a way off when we look at current brands in the market. There are products that could help ease some of the symptoms of menopause, including vitamins and supplements, but women don’t even recognize them as being for menopause – the brands are so generic and often trying to appeal to other audiences. But the demand is there for the right company with the right voice to make a huge change in society.
No easy one-size-fits-all solution
One of the things we’ve seen from our research is that there is frustration from women when using certain supplements, as there’s not currently one product that fits all. We’re looking for quite an elusive solution here – as women have to find the right treatment for each of their symptoms by trial and error, and that can get very expensive. Not having the education they need on the subject means women struggle to find solutions – and after many unsuccessful attempts to make it work for them, they just give up; so, brands lose so many opportunities with this demographic group. In the long run, you’re ideally looking for something that will help to deal with all their symptoms, at once.
Making a solution accessible
Until that one size fits all solution is found for menopause, we’re going to have a split market, like so many other strands of health. There’s the potential for bespoke and personalised mixes of supplements and vitamins, for instance, as we see in other parts of health and fitness – but these always come at a price. Currently this means there’s a massive inequality in how treatment is handled, as women who can afford private healthcare are far more likely to get exactly what they need.
Issues with wider understanding
Something that came out during our studies is that women are finding that some doctors are just not listening. Perhaps due to the complexity of the issues and the strains on health systems, women have reported being told that they’re too young to be experiencing menopause or that they’re not suffering as badly as others are. If they don’t have mothers or older sisters to talk to, then many women will only discuss menopause with friends they’ve known since childhood (or at least for a long time). There isn’t really adequate information online to be self-sufficient in dealing with the menopause either, or to help women find the right products for them.
Brands can help to lead the conversation
Considering the level of impact menopause has for so many women (recent studies report that one in ten women leave work because of it), it may be that government intervention will be needed in the long run to make treatment affordable and equitable for everyone. All levels of society need to have a voice in this, but brands could certainly help to lead that conversation. It’s all about understanding the need, providing that support and then empowering decisions. It’s a huge task for any brand, but Catalyx has solutions to help you unlock your target audience.
A chance to be a part of a bigger movement
There are different roles that brands can play too. You might not be able to solve this huge and complex issue with one inspired moment of product innovation, or you could play a strong role in one area that really pushes part of the conversation forward. This isn’t just for one brand, it’s just too big a challenge, but there is an opportunity for lots of brands in this space in different forms and approaches. Brands are starting to understand that we’ve got a huge untapped market here – we’re just at the start of the conversation before the floodgates open.
Demonstrate brand leadership in the menopause category by pushing awareness, education and empowerment
With International Women’s Day upon us, what better time to push the equity agenda for women on menopause?
Catalyx-owned research* for a known supplement brand found 65% of women with perimenopause symptoms don’t recognise the reason for their symptoms and don’t know where to start to manage them.
The alarming number is illustrative of the broader lack of societal awareness and understanding of the menopause, in particular the very real lack of support that women encounter at such an emotionally charged time in their lives.
Brands powering up change
Our research* shows that brands have an enormous opportunity to demonstrate leadership by pushing the equity space for women and menopause. But to shift the dial, brands should consider how they can contribute to the category through more than just their products.
To date, brands have seen many young women through their first significant body changes and on to motherhood, and yet, when women hit that later critical change, those brands are nowhere to be seen – there are no more ‘live well’ campaigns.
Societally women are valued for youth, beauty and motherhood, but too often ignored later in life. After all, how many brands and campaigns spring to mind that highlight women ageing as a positive thing?
It appears as though wellbeing and lifestyle brands haven’t stopped to consider this stage in women’s lives leaving perimenopausal women left in the dark: “I can’t think of any brands tackling this”.
Women share that they “don’t know anything about it [menopause] or where to start”, and describe the emotional impact of their experience as a “horrible, lonely and upsetting time” and feel “overwhelmed, scared and embarrassed”.
The powerful words of our cohort’s lived experience demonstrates that women are crying out for help: “Really advertise products towards perimenopause and educate women about what it is.”
Brands need to stand up and consider how they might be able to play in any area that pushes the dial on supporting and educating women. And while there’s no one size fits all for tackling this historical taboo, driving the equity agenda for women on menopause could be an important and rewarding challenge to undertake.
Driving the bigger picture
Positioning your brand as experts in this area of women’s health will also allow brands to bang the drum for wider public discourse about the many varying issues – this isn’t a women-only issue, it has an impact for everyone.
Well thought out campaigns can help shape the new narrative, and drive forward the change in language that’s needed about this women’s health ‘problem’, instead capturing the very real and emotive experience of women across the world.
Allowing women to move from this: “This is one of the most annoying and frustrating times in my life. I have zero control or real understanding of what is happening and when it’s happening next.”
..to feelings of empowerment.
As exemplified by Dove’s ‘Real Women’ campaign, purpose-driven brands must consider how to speak to women in an authentic way that empowers women and supports them to be emotionally seen.
Undeniably, it will take time and effort to capture this market with the sensitivity it needs, but at Catalyx we believe there is a huge opportunity for credible brands to own this space, educate society, and empower women to navigate this new journey with self-understanding, knowledge and market tested solutions.
Breaking down the taboo of menopause to empower women
So you think the menopause space is an area in which your brand can play, but how do you know for sure? And importantly, how can you ensure you take your brand into a relatively unknown market with credibility?
At Catalyx, we believe the menopause is an everyone issue and not just a women’s issue, but with 65%* of women not even recognising the symptoms they’re suffering are due to the perimenopause, what should be your first move in this new, untapped sector?
Whatever the questions you might be asking, our recent menopause research shows that the market is wide open for brands to play their part in breaking down the taboo of menopause, empowering women and promoting equity for this important group of consumers.
How are you going to show up?
As a brand, you could consider taking a broader view of how you want to show up in the market. With understanding and awareness of the menopause experience so underrepresented, there are a multitude of opportunities to explore.
Will you be the brand that pursues the opportunity to shift and shape culture – sparking the narrative around the menopause conversation? A brand that stands up and seeks change for their consumers.
“I can’t think of any [brands tackling this]. I don’t honestly think most of society realises how much it can affect you.”* – Managing symptoms
Or the brand that has the expertise to educate consumers? Taking everyone on the menopause journey, helping all of society to understand the experience of menopausal women better – from a younger generation of women, to husbands and partners, from acknowledging the long term impact on women’s careers to their day-to-day experience of the workplace.
“There should be discussions about giving women as much knowledge as possible…so each woman can discover what works for their specific needs.”* – Managing symptoms
And for some who are already exploring the category, you might be considering how you innovate further and think more widely across the category. How can you share a more holistic view of the menopause experience in a way that empowers women beyond your individual products?
“Brands do not seem to place enough importance on what they call ‘women’s problems’.”* Managing symptoms
How Catalyx can help you
Our Discover products can support you at any stage of your journey to perimenopause and menopause market exploration – from concept testing, innovation building or knowing how to effectively communicate with this new, important audience.
Read on to explore the different ways we can help:
- New to the menopause space and want to understand the needs and opportunity spaces from women going through menopause? We’d recommend: Catalyx Unmet needs springboard / demand space opportunities
- Wanting to innovate but need to know what, why and how? We’d recommend: Innovation Building Blocks
- Want to understand how best to communicate with your audience and get to a platform for communication concepts? We’d recommend: Communication Building Blocks
- Want to just start by dipping your toe in and gauging the appetite from your core audience: We’d recommend: Crowd Safari bitesize – A day/week in the life.
Get in touch to find out how Catalyx can help you unlock consumer insight to grow your brand.
*Verbatim taken from crowd-sourced research in Australia.
Catalyx named as one of Europe’s fastest growing businesses by Financial Times’ FT 1000 in 2023
For the fourth year in a row, Catalyx has been named as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies by the Financial Times.
Having tripled in size over the last four years, thanks to our award-winning Consumer Activation System smart technology and market-leading experts, Catalyx works with 75% of the world’s top FMCG companies.
“We are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved at Catalyx and the recognition in the latest Financial Times’ FT 1000 listing proves our innovative approach to brand growth is paying off,” says Guy White, CEO and founder of Catalyx.
Only 12.5% of the companies in the FT 1000 have featured for three consecutive years. Catalyx is delighted to be among these high-growth businesses.
This accolade offers further evidence that our talented teams of brand strategists consistently and successfully deliver on behalf of our clients, not just in Europe but around the world.
As this year’s FT 1000 is based on revenue growth at European companies in the three years to 2021, the ranking shows how many businesses thrived despite the pandemic.
Catalyx is always looking to add smart, creative and dedicated people who want to be part of one of the fastest emerging disruptors in the insight industry.
- Want to join our talented team and help us to unlock growth for some of the world’s most respected brands? Check out our jobs here.
Brands need to play a role to remove the taboo from menopause and perimenopause
With International Women’s Day on the horizon, on Wednesday March 8, it’s time to #EmbraceEquity for women around the world when it comes to the menopause. Brands have the opportunity to shift the culture of taboo to empowerment for women.
Our research* found 65% of women don’t even realise that the symptoms they’re suffering are due to perimenopause.
It’s indicative of the lack of societal equity for women that over half of women nearing the age of menopause are unaware of the impacts of menopause and don’t know the reason for their symptoms.
In addition, too many suffer in silence. Such has been the lack of education, discussion and ownership around menopause, despite it impacting half the population.
Causing symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, brain fog, hot flushes and irregular periods, perimenopause puts strain on relationships, work and day-to-day life – leaving many women overwhelmed.
While efforts have been made to raise awareness, many still reach this stage of life completely unprepared and feeling isolated.
In fact, most women don’t even begin to talk about the subject until they’re significantly struggling, and will often find other health issues to blame for feeling “under the weather” before accepting it. It shouldn’t be that way.
At Catalyx, we believe there is a huge opportunity for credible brands to own this space, become a champion and empower women to navigate their journey, feel in control, and emotionally seen – and we’ve recently completed the research to prove it.
Brands can shine a light on women’s health
As one of the respondents spelt out during our recent qualitative deep dive on the topic for an international vitamins and supplements brand:
“I can’t think of any brands tackling this. I honestly don’t think most of society realises how much it can affect you.”
While the physical and emotional changes women go through during perimenopause put a strain on their general well-being, we found that existing market solutions are plain, sterile and functional only; they bring little comfort in this emotionally loaded time.
Traditionally, brands in this space have not been listening to women’s emotional needs or multifunctional needs as much as they could. Finding the right treatment can often take time, requiring trial and error and inevitably creating frustration – but this shouldn’t be the case. Why shouldn’t an off-the-shelf menopause product feel part of an uplifting lifestyle movement for women, rather than a clinical reminder of change?
Meanwhile brands in other categories haven’t been pushing women’s equity in society by playing a role of educational empowerment and cultural awareness.
This means there are huge opportunities for new brands to get involved and own the space. It’s happened with body positivity, and now it’s time for brands to shift culture for menopause to be understood and equity to be achieved.
Our insight recommends the market needs to move towards empowering and educating both women and men about menopause fast.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the key insights from our menopause case study and shining a light on the many reasons we should be losing the taboo around this universally important women’s health topic. Let’s talk.
* Crowdsourced research in Australia
Meet the Team – Ben Palmer, business development manager at Catalyx
Having recently joined the team at Catalyx as business development manager, London-based Ben Palmer shares his joy at problem solving through market research and helping brands to grow.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Ben…
I live in London with my lovely wife. I have always been in business development in one form or another, with the biggest stint being in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, working within a financial role before moving into market research with Kantar Worldpanel.
One of the highlights of my career so far have been the people I get to work with, the ones that push me to be better every day. The ones who are your ally on the hard days and your biggest microphone on your great days.
It always amazes me how much you can learn from the people around you when you have an atmosphere dedicated to becoming better.
This is what really excites me about Catalyx; the people here are so passionate and talented and I cannot wait to see what this team can grow into.
What are your proudest career success stories to date?
Starting from nothing in Malaysia! All I had was a phone, with no relevant contacts, and a laptop – and yet I turned that experience into a fantastic four years of my life. It forced me to really dial in to the skills you need to be successful as well as the kind of person I wanted to be.
Why did you decide to join Catalyx?
Everything about the way Catalyx do things – and the plans we have moving forward excites me. It makes me want to be better and that is a great thing to have in your career.
And how have you settled in?
The team have been great and made me feel so welcome. They have always been on hand for every question (and there have been a lot!) with a smile and an answer.
What are you particularly excited to get involved with?
When you make an appointment to see a doctor you want two things: a diagnosis and a route to becoming healthy again. Not just the prescription
This is what excites me about Catalyx. Everything is geared towards diagnosing the situation and discovering what the right actions for brands are to become healthy again.
What makes you so excited about working in the industry generally?
When we are the missing piece to the next stage of growth. We have access to so much information and, when you deliver a project and watch the other side of the table instantly get excited because we have provided an answer they were reaching for but couldn’t reach, it is an amazing feeling.
Away from work, how do you relax?
You will often find me making an excuse to go for a walk, not necessarily for the exercise (although that is an added bonus) but for the chance to spend an hour with an audiobook or podcast.
Alternatively, you will find me on the golf course going through all of life’s emotions while being dictated to by a tiny 1.7 inch ball!
Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Catalyx in 2023?
I am really excited to be part of this team and by the mindset of growth, both for ourselves and for the brands we work with. It can be uncomfortable sometimes but from that you can learn so much. It will be great to see what the improved version of both myself and the team looks like at the end of the year.
- Are you thinking about a fresh start? Catalyx is recruiting! We are an international, multi-award-winning, tech-enabled marketing strategy and insights agency with global offices in Geneva, London, Chicago and Sofia. Check out our jobs here.
How the emergence of AI tools will transform the way market research works in the future
When facing challenging times, humans inevitably find new and creative ways to tackle the problems of the day – and this time it looks like artificial intelligence could be one of the keys to open the doors to a brighter future.
With much of the world facing a global recession, the focus has turned to a number of emerging technologies that have leapt into the mainstream over the last few months and are sure to open up new opportunities.
As governments and businesses search for new ways to trigger growth and to build consumer confidence through a financially testing economy, we have seen OpenAI and ChatGPT (along with lesser-known unstructured and semantic visual AI capabilities) take to the stage.
“While the fields of market research and consumer goods development can sometimes be guilty of always looking for the shiny new method that is going to be the silver bullet, it feels like these technologies could potentially be totally disruptive. These AI tools could become engaged and embedded in everything that we do,” says Catalyx founder and CEO, Guy White.
“At Catalyx, we are completely embracing these developments, as well as keeping an eye on how other companies across industries are using the technology in new and exciting ways.
“We think AI will be instrumental in the way that we are able to process qualitative data at quantitative scale, which is ultimately how you get closer to the consumer truth.”
Despite $76 billion being spent on market research every year, 95% of innovations fail – and it’s the same in the consumer world where 95% of products fail.
While market research isn’t the driver of that failure, it remains a pretty poor hit rate taking into account the level of investment. Could new technology help to improve results?
“There’s plenty of excellent market research that is being done by lots of extremely smart people but clearly the old ways of testing, developing concepts, testing products and launching products could be improved – because it’s an awful lot of wasted money. It’s driven by the fact that people are being dazzled by the speed of data access,” says Guy.
Fast growing technologies have of course allowed us to survey and gather data on anything for tens or hundreds of dollars in a short space of time, but this has led to not really understanding what actually leads growth.
“We’re seeing a shift in the pendulum from our clients in the industry who are really forging ahead,” says Guy. “They’re recognising that it’s not the data that supports the growth, it’s the insight – and insight remains an elusive and difficult task to produce effectively.
“Tools like AI and ChatGPT are so interesting because for the first time ever they’re able to process smartly and with great nuance more behavioural unstructured data at crowd-sourced scale. This cuts out the pitfalls of human-led coding to be able to understand what people are saying en masse, and that’s very exciting.”
While this year at Catalyx is going to be about continuing to help our clients gather crowd-sourced data in the most behavioural way possible (and then processing that data to tell stories that drive businesses forward), we’re very excited by the emerging analytic capabilities that essentially allow us to do that at a bigger scale and far faster.
Combined with our innovative consultancy overlay, it is sure to prove invaluable when solving challenging problems for clients and will help us to help businesses to really unlock growth.
Meet the Team – Shazia Ginai, chief growth officer at Catalyx
In November, Shazia Ginai joined our award-winning, tech-enabled marketing strategy and insights agency as chief growth officer. With a wealth of experience as chief executive of neuroanalytics and research firm, Neuro-Insight UK, plus prior roles at GHD and Proctor & Gamble, Shazia is now leading our newly established growth team. Here we learn a little more about what makes her tick…
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Shazia…
I’m a British born, south Asian, Muslim woman who loves understanding the inner workings of the human mind.
I started my career working client side, beginning at P&G working on luxury men’s skin care and perfume brands. P&G was an incredible training ground but I knew after seven years it was time to see what existed outside of that bubble so I moved on.
I went on to head up the Global insight function at ghd for the next four years. This role was incredibly turbulent and gave me a much deeper understanding of the more entrepreneurial spirit VC owned businesses have, and taught me a lot about leadership – the good, bad and ugly.
I then moved into the agency world to a small boutique agency, Neuro-Insight. This was an incredible moment in my career, Neuro-Insight is a fascinating business that uses a proprietary neuroscience technique to measure subconscious brain response mostly for advertising research. I went into the business as head of sales and marketing.
After two years in that role, I was promoted to CEO, and served in that role for three and a half years until this amazing opportunity at Catalyx came along. I’m now a month-and-a-half into my new role as chief growth officer of this exciting business.
What are your proudest career success stories to date?
This is a tough question; I feel grateful to have had quite a few “pinch me” moments. There are two in particular that come to mind, however.
The first is quite a big one – keeping a business alive through the pandemic! At the time I was nine months into my role as CEO of Neuro-Insight, a business that generated revenue from measuring the subconscious. When all the brains went into lockdown so did our ability to measure them. This pushed me to pivot our thinking to keep us top of mind during a time when clients couldn’t use us as they usually would, and also to up our game when restrictions were lifted to compensate for that quiet period. Not only did we survive, but we retained profitability, healthy cash flow and generated a good level of revenue in the latter half of 2020. All things considered, a success.
The second is more personal to me – I was asked to feature in the BBC’s digital CEO Secrets series. This gave me an opportunity to talk about being a woman in leadership living with Endometriosis, a menstrual health condition that results in extreme chronic pain. I spoke about how empathetic and open communication from leaders creates a culture of trust and mutual respect. The video was really well received, and many leaders reached out to share how empowering seeing that level of vulnerability was. It’s a scary space for so many to openly venture into, given the conditioned versions of leadership we have all been exposed to. That interview helped both leaders and their teams see that being human in business can be done!
Why did you decide to join Catalyx?
I knew if I was to leave my position as CEO of Neuro-Insight it would have to be an extremely exciting business with a big challenge for me to sink my teeth into. This was it.
I had previously always been in global roles prior to Neuro, so coming back to an international business was also really appealing.
The main reason though was that I am a great believer that research agencies should be strategic partners to their clients, not just a data delivery service – and that’s what Catalyx does.
We provide real partnership, insights that aren’t just interesting, but also actionable for the bigger picture for the business to really unlock growth.
The business is also scalable and utilises a mix of methodologies, which allows more holistic insights to be delivered.
And how have you settled in?
I’m still settling with regards to the role. It’s a brand-new role for the business, which means I have a lot of puzzle pieces to find and a lot to understand before fully mapping out how to put the wheels in motion. This has all been made easier by how lovely the Catalyx team is. I’ve been welcomed in with open arms, and am surrounded by hard working dedicated people.
Are there any aspects of Catalyx that you’re particularly looking forward to getting involved with?
I’m particularly excited about two areas, marketing and product innovation. The wonderful thing about this role is it’s new, so there’s room to innovate and create. The technology itself has so much scale. Being able to create without too many limitations is incredibly exciting.
What makes you so excited about working in the research sector generally?
I’ve worked in the research sector for almost two decades now and, honestly, I never get tired of it.
Research has and always will be pivotal to every business. It’s the gateway to understanding humans; their desires, behaviours and underlying motivations. The industry is vast in its range of disciplines and attracts great talent.
At Catalyx in particular, the use of behavioural science in generating insight is an example of just how forward thinking and in touch this industry is.
Gone are the days of just a survey and a focus group or two, market research continues to be the key to understanding human truth – and that’s what I love.
I am also involved in various D&I initiatives in the sector. The industry is really open and willing to drive societal change and being part of that journey continues to keep me energised.
You also work with a number of industry councils and programmes – tell us more…
I am currently Board Chair for CORe (Colour of Research), am on the Market Research Society’s ED&I Council and have most recently been appointed the WIRe (Women in research) Women of colour representative.
Market research has often been seen as a “female” heavy industry but looking at the facts, while many women tend to come into the sector there are nowhere near enough women in leadership positions. The stats on people of colour are even more shocking.
Given we are an industry that exists to understand and speak the truth of consumers, it is crucial that we are representative of those consumers. There are two reasons for my view on this.
If you have a brain, you have bias. No matter how many training courses we go on, our biases are deeply conditioned and when we interpret research data those biases can creep into the synthesis of the data. Having more diverse voices creating those research questions and analysing the results gives a much more realistic and well-rounded set of results. So, diversity of teams is integral to driving excellence and relevant outcomes for businesses.
Secondly, from a leadership standpoint, we all know that our lived experiences and life context provide the foundation for our creativity and idea generation. When you have a monochrome and mono-gendered board room table, you limit creativity and therefore innovation. So, it’s in everyone’s best interest to have a more inclusive and diverse organisation.
Away from work, how do you relax?
I live for work-life balance and therefore have a tonne of hobbies!
I have a book addiction. I’ve been an avid reader from an early age, so my house is full of books. I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction, more of the latter lately (lots of human behaviour, psychology and neuroscience).
I’m also currently three months into a two-year part time yoga teach training qualification. I’m a huge advocate for bringing yoga back to its roots, so am thoroughly enjoying in depth study of south Asian philosophy as part of this.
I recently qualified in conscious connected breathwork facilitation, a technique used for trauma integration, so when I have time, I run sessions for anyone who needs them.
I also love food. My best friend is a chef and I’m from a Pakistani family, so food has been at the centre of all gatherings for me since day dot. Thankfully, I also love going to the gym with a strict routine, which helps to counteract all the eating!
Finally, what are you hoping to achieve with Catalyx in 2023?
I’m excited to really get my feet under the table and for this year, in particular, I’m looking forward to being part of the shift in mindset around growth and putting a great plan in place that sets us up for the future. Growth is tough, because growth means change, which can take us into the realms of discomfort. So, for me, 2023 is about finding that sweet spot where people can feel excited about growth, which will ultimately bring out the best in us all.
Rely on what your consumers really want, not just your established brand when diving into new opportunities
It’s always tempting to throw yourself in at the deep end when new and emerging markets appear in your industry and align neatly with your current portfolio. You’ve got strong, well-established branding and, so, people are sure to switch to your product once you enter the game. Right?
A word of caution, however, from the no and low alcohol drinks market, which is rapidly growing and expected to further explode in 2023 – but has proven to be tougher to break for established brands than expected.
Relying on your hard-earned branding can be an overly simplistic way to look at the opportunity and is a mistake often made across fast growing and emerging markets.
Even with strong branding, a product with a weak or diluted overall message is likely to get lost against more focused competition, in particular new disruptor brands.
It is all very well announcing a new and exciting no or low alcohol product, but if the majority of your consumer base isn’t already switched onto that for health or lifestyle reasons then what else might help to capture their attention?
Focusing on Corona’s Cero non-alcoholic beer recently, we discovered that while people trusted the brand and were interested in the concept, there were barriers that affected the purchase of the product.
To date, the product had been promoted much like a traditional Corona beer – the refreshing summer experience. But it lacked emphasis on the benefits of the product. What made it special?
On our behavioural missions with potential consumers, we discovered that as soon as people tasted it for the first time and learned about the product’s naturalness, the potential for take-up increased dramatically.
So, Corona had a fantastic product but there was clearly an opportunity to be braver when pushing the benefits of non-alcoholic beer – rather than relying on the brand and traditional promotion.
What do we mean by that? How could the message hit harder? Well, here are some of the most repeated thoughts from consumers during our research – all of which help to build a stronger and more appealing lifestyle message, rather than simply adding “non-alcoholic” on the label…
- Inclusion with others
For years the only options for someone who might not be imbibing on a night out or social occasion were a steady flow of sugary soft drinks or other bland alternatives, and some people would feel stigmatised just by ordering these in the first place. Being part of the group is a highly motivating factor for consumers’ drinks choice – and non-alcoholic beers help people to feel like they are part of the occasion in a way that previously was not possible.
- Avoiding hangovers
In an increasingly fast paced world where people can feel permanently “on call” with work, an obvious benefit of switching to non-alcoholic beers is that it’s still possible to maintain capacity at the time – or on the morning after. Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact of alcohol on their behaviour and productivity, and non-alcoholic beer offers the opportunity for a moment of enjoyment but without the unwanted consequences.
- Being able to drive
Now that non-alcoholic beers are matching up for taste with their alcoholic cousins, it is helping to solve a societal problem and removing temptation for people who may have previously struggled to join and enjoy social occasions, while knowing they had a need to drive later.
- Being healthy
As lifestyles have changed and the world has become more visual with social media, consumers are more aware of their appearance than ever before. It is the key reason for the massive growth in the healthier and more natural drinks market. But it is not just the younger generations who are leading this change here – the fact that non-alcoholic beers are lower in calories than their alcoholic alternatives not only lessens the health impacts of alcohol but it can also make people more comfortable on their evening out (e.g. less bloat). With the rise in participation of active sports, such as cycling, running etc, across all age groups this is not going to change any time soon.
- Replicating the drinking experience
Once upon a time, there was an obvious drop in the flavour and enjoyment of non-alcoholic drinks but the market, as it so often does, has quickly solved these issues. Now, large swathes of consumers know that non-alcoholic drinks can offer the same great taste, without the consequences – and this is something that brands can leverage by ensuring it is as easy as it can be for consumers to experience their first taste of their drink. Don’t just hope they will pick your product off the shelf…
And what does this all mean for anyone who isn’t involved in the alcoholic drinks market, we hear you ask? Well, the message is a simple one…
While you may know that there is a new market that you want your brand to play in, it is absolutely essential to make sure that you fully involve your consumers in the development process.
Speaking to the people that you hope will buy your product is where you can discover the unmet needs or USPs that will set you apart from the competition and help you to win in a competitive marketplace.
This is where Catalyx and our award-winning Consumer Activation System can help you to develop or grow your products and brand easier, quicker and more cost effectively. Get in touch today to learn more about our smart technology tools and talented people can help you to unlock your crowd.