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‘We try to be one of them’: Tetra Pak exec discusses drive for vital shopper insight

By Ben Bouckley+

02-Dec-2014
Last updated on 02-Dec-2014 at 17:12 GMT2014-12-02T17:12:55Z

Tetra Pak consumers in the 1960s. A lot has changed since then, and the firm's focus now more than ever is on better understanding of shopper and consumer psychology, to inform the packaging design process (Photo:Tetra Pak)
Tetra Pak consumers in the 1960s. A lot has changed since then, and the firm's focus now more than ever is on better understanding of shopper and consumer psychology, to inform the packaging design process (Photo:Tetra Pak)
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Tetra Pak is a B2B company but it invests above the curve in shopper and consumer insights, and Michela Vallalta, the company’s director of consumer intelligence, tells BeverageDaily.com why.

“When we talk about our categories, milk and juice – often the shopper is on automatic pilot,” she says, in this podcast recorded at Tetra Pak’s R&D facility in Modena last week.

“If you ask the consumers what they’ve done at the supermarket in a separate interview, sometimes it’s very difficult for the shopper to say exactly what they’ve done, why they’ve chosen something and how they’ve behaved,” Vallalta adds.

“So the best way is what we call ‘shopper insights’ – accompanying the shopper to the shelf, and seeing exactly how they behave. It’s a big investment…it’s very tricky sometimes, but it’s one of the methodologies we use.”

“When you ask the consumers what they’ve done at the supermarket on a separate interview, sometimes it’s very difficult for the shopper to say exactly what they’ve done, why they’ve chosen something and how they’ve behaved,” (Michela Vallalta, director of consumer intelligence, Tetra Pak)

In this exclusive recording, Michela Vallalta also tells Ben Bouckley how Tetra Pak comes up with its ‘mega trends’ that feed into carton development: urbanization, on-the-go convenience and aging populations, to name but three.

“Every year we collect and update a big set of data coming from different sources into our trends, and we start this process around December/January that is called trend assessment,” she says.

Then we feed this together with our information from competitor intelligence, category analysis…into what we call our strategy cycle. That’s where we put everything and come up with the key directions that the company can follow,” Vallalta adds.

“That might be, for example, ‘We need to focus on portion pack on-the-go, because the industry and consumers are going this way’,” she says.

“These are cascaded by the strategy council into the development organization, into the product management, into the market companies locally. So we all try to follow the same kind of patterns.”

Other discussion topics include:

  • The work of Tetra Pak’s Front-End Innovation team
  • The environment and the rise of the ‘informed consumer’
  • Why it is vital for Tetra Pak to 'speak the same language' as its customers

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