2019 Grocer Gold Award. What Made it Happen?

Today we welcome David Hood, Group Innovation Director for Happen and Chief Architect of StarMaker, Happen’s emotion analytics suite.

Congratulations on Happen’s recent success as winner of the Grocer Gold Award 2019.

With assistance from Pansensic’s Hybrid Text Analytics (HTA) platform, Happen have achieved great things, in a diverse spread of industries.

For instance, after analysing 60,000 reviews you were able to highlight what ‘indulgence’ meant to consumers. From this you helped Gü enter the breakfast market with a delicious crunchy chocolate spread.

After gleaning insights from 105,000 product reviews, you overhauled the product and social media strategy of L’Oréal.

And, after gathering and analysing insights from over 63,000 product, venue and menu reviews you helped refresh the iconic Beefeater Gin brand with the introduction of Beefeater Blood Orange.

It’s now the 16th year of the Grocer Awards, and its competitiveness is renowned. Happen was up against a lot of innovators and forward thinkers. What sets your emotion analytics tool apart from the rest?

Happen at the Grocer Awards 2019

(David Hood (right) and Mark Cowan, co-founder of Happen)

David: ‘At the end of the day, clients are looking to get more out of their data. The challenge that we are facing is how to do that and how to get beyond simply receiving an abundance of data. Getting beyond data, to a point where clients can actually do something with it, is the goal. With the emotion analytics toolkit that we know and love, we are able to attain that level of granular detail. This detail brings the consumer closer to us in a way that it is better, faster, and more actionable than our competitors.

We have listened hard to our clients, and to where our clients experience the most challenges. As a result, we have come back with a solution that is fit for purpose.’

What was in demand that made this technology vital? Was there anything specific that made you think that your clients needed this product instantly?

David: ‘It’s a collision of two challenges. Contextually, clients are signing up to big data accounts. These accounts feed them a high quantity of data and grant instant access to said data. That has its values. But our clients are more innovation focused. As such, they want/need more detail beyond basic facts. They want to know ‘the why’ behind a fact. I think answering that ‘why’ question is what we have always done. 

What we wanted to do with StarMaker was deliver that level of depth that our clients crave, in an optimised way, using traditional research methods. This may be through one-to-one interviews, ethnographic work, following people round supermarkets or sitting in a focused group. The depth of insight this brings is really valuable. The only challenge was it wasn’t really leveraging the great tide of data that was/is available online. Especially when humans are talking in an unprovoked way about their emotions.

What we are trying to do all the time is:

  1. Involve the insight and innovation approach
  2. Harness consumer needs
  3. Answer what big data isn’t providing the innovator

The combination of those challenges, and hearing the frustrations of clients not getting what they need, really presented the opportunity for StarMaker to appear.’ 

How do you see StarMaker progressing? Are there any specific areas you can see Happen taking this technology further?

David: ‘What we look to do is harness unprovoked emotion. The future is very broad in terms of this opportunity. We have already taken great strides into revolutionise the way brands, brand health and brand equity, are managed. Because emotions are everywhere, and because humans are expressing emotions towards brands everywhere, you can harness that emotion to do a much better job of managing brands. Particularly using that unstructured narrative approach. Through this we render survey-based research slightly less relevant, and help clients understand their consumers better through smart emotion analytics.’

Alongside Happen, finalists from companies including Epos Now, PayPoint, Relex Solutions, and Ubamarket stood strong. What would you say you all had in common to make it to the final five?

David: ‘I think it’s about listening hard and addressing clients’ needs in innovative ways. There is nothing more exciting than for a client to see a really relevant differentiating solution to their problem. Especially one that is presented to them quickly and clearly.

These solutions provide tangible, meaningful, and actionable outcomes. I think that’s what all these solutions are likely to offer consumers and clients. This is what makes them fantastic products.’

What does it mean to you and your team to win this award?

David: ‘It is a great privilege. Everyone tries to receive accreditation, from an independent source, for their work. I am massively proud of not only my contribution, but the contribution of the much wider team. Nobody can do this alone. As an agency, as a group, and to all our partners, especially Pansensic, we are massively proud.

For me, to have that independent accreditation is a big deal. It really shows that what we are doing is recognised for being industry changing. What’s more, it validates testimonials provided by our clients, and the great work we have all been doing up to this point. I am just really grateful that we have had this experience and have this award to build from. It’s lovely to look at every time you walk into the office. No one can take that away.’

Thank you, David, for demonstrating just how insightful StarMaker can be. What a great award for an equally great tool.

To read more about StarMaker and how it works click here.  

We look forward to seeing how it progresses into the future.

Image Credit: Grocer Award

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