PepsiCo creates innovation at speed with its insights partner ecosystem

Learn how PepsiCo successfully developed an effective innovation insights ecosystem with the help of Zappi and our Activate it and Prioritize it solutions.

Key outcomes

  • A more powerful innovation insights partner ecosystem

    PepsiCo seeks to continuously strengthen its innovation insights capabilities. It has built a system that brings together best-of-breed partners — Black Swan, Zappi and Woxi — to create a ‘better together’ insights ecosystem.

  • Speed, efficiency and scalability

    Zappi helped PepsiCo inject further speed, efficiency and scalability into this ecosystem. Together, they developed new concept testing and optimization solutions for more of a Fail Fast and Learn Faster approach and culture.

  • Better, more informed innovation investment decisions

    What they’ve created is enabling faster, deeper and more actionable insights. This means innovation concepts can be better screened and optimized, to become the best they possibly can before progressing onwards to production.


Fail fast & learn faster; in search of speed and quality

Today’s world moves fast — and businesses need to innovate quickly to keep up. But there’s an inherent tension between speed and the significant investment innovation typically requires.

Historically, this has left product creators to strike a tough balance:

  1. Innovate with little or no consumer input because research often takes too long. This means shouldering the risk of flying blind. OR

  2. Slow the process to secure more consumer validation, but risk being late to market

PepsiCo set out to solve this challenge. Full steam ahead, its Innovation Partners Lab program began building out an insights-fueled flywheel to enable faster, scaled innovation.  By building this, PepsiCo would gain the ability to fail fast and learn faster —  a critical need to drive innovation through at the required pace.

Identifying the challenges

To start, PepsiCo identified some systemic challenges experienced with existing innovation insights options. These were:

  • Speed and cost efficiency: Innovation research can be expensive and time consuming, which has limited how much research can be delivered.

  • Scalability: There are challenges to scaling the insights to apply across a high volume of innovation ideas and concepts, as well as across multiple brands and different geographies.

  • Actionability: Insights were often not sufficiently actionable. They offered descriptive analysis but didn’t unlock the “why” behind the “what.” 

PepsiCo turned to Zappi to help address these challenges for the concept testing and concept optimization phases of their innovation process. The solutions would need to sync with their overall ecosystem, especially their downstream forecasting insights partner (Woxi).


Embracing design thinking to successfully deliver


To successfully deliver on PepsiCo’s requirements, Zappi took a Design Thinking approach.

To fully embrace design thinking principles and properly empathize with customer pain points and needs, Zappi & PepsiCo also turned to the Zappi Insights Alliance (IA) program. The IA is a group of partners from progressive businesses and brands who helped to: 

  1. Map out a broader view of different innovation processes across leading organizations

  2. Help ideate, prototype and test solutions that would ultimately be relevant across a wide range of businesses

  3. Optimize the analytical map based on real world examples. Ultimately this helped show how the data could (and could not) be used to answer PepsiCo’s business questions 


Zappi Prioritize it + Activate it

Zappi’s role was to develop and integrate two solutions into the PepsiCo insights ecosystem. 

  • Prioritize it - for early-stage new concept evaluation

  • Activate it - for later-stage concept optimization and activation 

Prioritize it

Prioritize it is an existing solution that was previously co-designed and developed with PepsiCo. It helps assess, prioritize and fast-track concepts with the strongest commercial potential.

An early-stage screening solution, it uses a robust databasing approach to size up each opportunity — so the right decisions can be made and the pipeline prioritized.

Key benefits include:

  1. A powerful and actionable concept recommendation framework based on 5 go-to-market classifications defined by a Trial vs. Breakthrough assessment.

  2. A human-centered design that uses category consumption context to evoke a real-world consumer response. It also uses bite-sized stimuli exposure design to provide an improved experience for mobile survey users.

  3. Smart sample and profiling to identify a concept’s opportunity and targeted consumer segments, not just the general population.

Activate it

Activate it was the more recent and entirely new solution that needed to be developed. It offers fast but rigorous assessment of later-stage concepts to further optimize the opportunities and guide activation. 

Key benefits include:

  1. A recommendation framework based on 5 go-to-market classifications defined by a Trial vs. Breakthrough assessment — consistent with the upstream approach used by Prioritize it.

  2. Quantification of the size of the opportunity for the product concept by outputting the exact metrics required for downstream forecasting partners.

  3. A view of the incrementality potential or impact on the category, portfolio, brand and occasion.

Better together

Together these two solutions integrate into the overall PepsiCo innovation insights ecosystem, helping address the core challenges identified:

  • Speed & cost-efficiency: Zappi’s hard-won experience and expertise in delivering rapid data and insight is at the core of the Prioritize it and Activate it solutions. They land data and insight back in less than 24 hours.

  • Scalability: Deploying consumer insights for prioritization and activation guidance across a high volume of ideas, brands and countries is now much more achievable due to the highly efficient design and cost profile.

  • Actionability: Both solutions deliver insight for fast action. For example:

    • Rich diagnostics for optimizing concepts to their full potential 

    • Metrics that also integrate key metrics in forecasting for easy actionability  


A multiplier effect

Prioritize it and  Activate it are now making a real impact for PepsiCo.

The benefits of these solutions are further enhanced by the insights partner ecosystem PepsiCo developed using best-of-breed integrations: with Black Swan Data upstream to identify early innovation ideas, and Zappi and Woxi for iterative concept testing, forecasting and concept optimization. 

Together they deliver a multiplier effect as well as a Fail Fast and Learn Faster capability and culture.

The Zappi difference

  • A real partner

    Zappi’s commitment to genuine co-creation and design-led thinking meant PepsiCo was able to deliver on its ambitious objectives.

  • Power of the platform

    The insights solutions developed take advantage of the underlying power of the Zappi platform, which allows customers to optimize with diagnostics at their fingertips and act in confidence while moving fast — all through an enterprise-level learning system.

  • Innovation expertise

    Zappi enjoys industry-leading innovation expertise through a team of innovation experts. Experts who have worked both customer and supplier-side for successful national and international brands. This expertise is critical to truly empathize with customers and their needs to successfully develop effective innovation insights solutions and ultimately deliver business value.