$170M to digitize enterprise consumer insights departments

Steve Phillips, Co-founder & CEO

Zappi has an ambitious vision for the future: We want to digitize consumer insights for every enterprise. I know this is a bold statement, especially if we consider that only 3% of the century-old, $68 billion market research industry is digitized today (according to study by PwC Strategy)

As a CEO, one of my key focus areas is regularly consulting with our customers about the direction of our company and how that fits into their vision of a digitized consumer insights department.

"Our industry needs a change, and it needs it now" is what I constantly hear from CMOs and insight leaders from the world's most innovative and progressive brands when we talk about the future role of consumer insights — PepsiCo, McDonald's, Reckitt, Vodafone and Mars, to name a few.

Why is it that most products and ads still fail when they hit the market? It’s simple: traditional market research is too slow, too costly, and too analog, serving as more of a blocker than an enabler of creative effectiveness and winning innovation. 

Creators within enterprises –those responsible for creating memorable ads, disruptive products, and shopping experiences– are awash with post-launch data. They have access to sales data, social media data, CRM data, etc. But before launch, when they need to know what resonates with consumers (and why), creators are underserved with the data they need to inspire, validate and optimize their ideas.

Unfortunately, the cost of failure is high —not just in terms of a potential loss of revenue or market share, but to their reputation as creators. Now, more than ever, consumer insights need to evolve quickly to fulfill its potential to be the key supplier of insightful data to enterprises and fuel innovation for creators.

That’s why we are doubling down. To accelerate our vision of digitizing consumer insights for every enterprise and empower creators around the world to be smarter, faster and more agile across every phase of their creation process,  we are incredibly excited to share that Sumeru Equity Partners –a partner that is equally committed to both our vision and culture- has strategically invested $170M in our company. Together, we will be focused on building that vision over the next few years to continue to disrupt and digitize this important industry.

And we are just getting started. Today, up to 97% of market research is still controlled by service-based incumbents that don't fit the needs of the modern creator (according to study by PwC Strategy). With this investment, we are going to reduce the gap by making pre-launch data much more central to enterprises and empowering more creators to bring the best version of their ideas to market—whether that is helping Cheetos create ads that score big at the Super Bowl, McDonald's spot winning McFlurry flavors that appeal to consumers or Reckitt build a winning innovation pipeline for Durex.

A changing landscape

With a global pandemic, a war, and a cost-of-living crisis, the last couple of years have proved how quickly global events can change consumer values and behaviors and how crucial it is to stay close to them with agile insights you can trust.

And if you look forward, 2023 will continue to be a jumble of mixed and tumultuous signals: digital advancement, technology innovation, historical inflation rates, international conflicts and a global recession —and these are only the things we know about! Not only that; just like we’ve seen in other moments of economic turbulence, 2023 will also be a year where CMOs will likely cut consumer insights budgets and demand their teams do more with less.

With the recession headwinds blowing across all markets, the problem (or the opportunity) is that 2023 will force almost every enterprise to work faster and in more agile and iterative ways to stay customer-centric and innovate at the speed of consumers in order to provide a competitive advantage for their businesses. And to do it successfully, their creators have to be equipped with agile pre-launch data so that they can stay closer, listen better, truly understand consumers and so make smarter decisions.

So yes, our industry has never been more in need of change. Since founding Zappi, we have been committed to bringing agile pre-launch data to every enterprise and being the data platform creators can rely on. And the truth is, we've never been in a better position to accelerate the digital transformation of the enterprise consumer insights department and lead the change.

As part of our journey, we have:

  • Been trusted by some of the world's most progressive CMOs and insights leaders from across +350 global enterprises, including PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Heineken, Vodafone, Reckitt, Mars, Domino’s and Colgate-Palmolive

  • Built the world's leading AI-driven consumer insights platform – the only one that allows instant access to real-time benchmark comparisons at scale and dynamically gets smarter from every new data point stored in our data warehouse of more than 1.2bn data points and 100,000 creative ideas

  • Built our solutions leveraging the best thinking in the industry from our best customers, resulting in savvy software that knows what drives product and ad success more than any other system 

  • Seen revenue growth at a pace of 30% YoY

  • Grown our presence in over 50 markets

  • Built an award-winning company culture and scaled our team to +300 people

But what matters most is the success of our customers:

"Since partnering with Zappi, we have seen our creative effectiveness improve by almost a third across all our advertising. This equates to PepsiCo gaining hundreds of millions in value from greater creative effectiveness this year!"

  — Stephan Gans, SVP and Chief Consumer Insights and Analytics Officer at PepsiCo. 

"At McDonald's, Zappi has been implemented as a 'must do' before an idea can be advanced into development. Strategically, our teams are hungry for focus, and if there is an idea that isn't worth moving forward – they want to know that sooner to avoid timelining and making commitments with supply change. For us, it's very appealing to know that we are focusing on the right ideas earlier in the process."

— Amanda Harvey, Manager, Front-End Innovation at McDonald's.

 

To all our loyal customers and passionate employees who saw the vision, THANK YOU. This is a significant milestone for our company, and I'm incredibly thrilled and grateful to everyone who's helped us get where we are in our journey.

Looking ahead: What’s next?

Zappi initiated the wave of digitization a few years ago by building software that generates research results far quicker, at a lower cost, with better quality data and more predictable outcomes than traditional techniques. 

Here's where we’ll look to invest our funds to take the digitalization of consumer insight departments to the next level and help the brands we work with to succeed: 

  • Powering platform innovation: We’ll build new technology and platform capabilities that minimize the distance between data analysis and action to enable agility at scale and help inspire creators to build great ideas.  In addition to providing more data, we'll deliver better quality answers so creators can understand consumers quickly, identify what trends are happening and where and what works and what doesn't faster —increasing their confidence in making critical business decisions at a click of a button and optimizing their enterprises' time and spending on consumer insights.  We'll also make advancements in data connectedness to allow pre-launch data sets to integrate with other data streams within the enterprise tech stack, making it easier for enterprises to democratize consumer insights at scale and get savvier over time.

 

  • Advancing self-service consumer insights: Uncovering insights should be as easy as a Google search. We want to make that a reality for anyone, and that means investing more in areas like UX innovation, AI predictive models, machine learning and natural language processing.  We’ll also expand our data lake to new markets, verticals, and categories to create a truly self-service platform-based experience. As our world-class data warehouse grows, the power of prediction will improve, so we can give our customers increased confidence in the power of their ideas to build things consumers love based on the bigger forces influencing consumer behaviors —with our platform doing the heavy lifting.

  • Our people and the communities we serve: Building something bigger than ourselves that our team can be proud of is a foundational piece in how we scale our business and serve communities. Following our B Corp recognition, we’ll invest in furthering our net-zero commitment by reducing our environmental impact and increasing our offsetting investment.  We will also expand the use of our tech for good by growing pro bono research services and continue to invest in our people to support their development and physical, mental and financial well-being.

 

I firmly believe the future belongs to creators. We're moving to a world where creators can become confident, knowing in advance if their creations are likely to succeed and reducing the number of failures because they're continuously learning. That's the promise of data for creators.

I couldn’t be more excited about this next chapter and the opportunities our partnership with Sumeru will provide for all enterprises. We've got big plans. Let's make them happen together.

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