We interviewed Significant Insights Global 30 Under 30 Nominee Ines Casanovas who works as a Client Manager at Kantar, advising one of the largest snacking manufacturers in the UK on shopper behaviour and helping them find growth opportunities within the snacking market. She is part of the Women in Leadership mentorship Programme in Kantar, selected as one of the 10 women in the UK.
Take us through your industry journey so far? How did you arrive at this point?
I’ve always been interested in understanding people and how the mind works, which is why I chose to study Psychology at university. There I gained an interest in the everyday social phenomenon and collective behaviour, so during my Erasmus in Groningen, I took courses on Consumer Psychology and the Psychology of Advertising. I enjoyed the applications of Social Psychology into marketing and business and wanted to further specialise on that topic.
I then went back to my hometown Barcelona, and I applied for an internship in market research, working for a small agency that specialised in focus groups. I loved being behind the two-way mirror like in Mad Men! It was very interesting to observe people using new products and to make notes of what people said and how they said it, which we would then incorporate into the briefs for our clients.
I then moved to the UK to study a MSc in Social and Public Communication at the London School of Economics (LSE), where I took further courses on consumer behaviour, as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods.
After graduation I knew I wanted to find a job in market research where I could continue to link my passion for human behaviour and understanding people with a more applied research-business focus. I applied to Kantar as the leading data, insights, and consultancy company, and I started my graduate scheme doing a 2-year rotational programme, which helped me get a complete picture of all the key areas involved in market research. I really enjoyed working with clients – understanding their pain points and how we could help them.
After the graduate scheme I moved to Kantar Worldpanel, joining the FMCG team as a Client Executive for one of the largest snacking manufacturers in the UK. During my first year at Worldpanel I collaborated with the magazine The Grocer, sharing some insights on what was happening to the Cakes & Biscuits market since lockdown, I gained the “Best Client Feedback” award and got promoted to Client Manager. It’s been a great experience so far, as I greatly enjoy working so closely with brands and manufacturers and consulting them on their marketing and business strategies using our shopper panel data and can’t wait for what lies ahead!
So, what’s so inspiring about our industry?
There are many inspiring aspects of market research!
The fact we are always learning about new things is something I love. We help businesses and brands address real-life problems coming up with unique solutions, informed by the social context. For example, how the pandemic and lockdowns have affected shopper behaviour in different countries and the trends (like how people stopped buying as much make-up but increased their spend on skincare routines!). Or how new government regulations like the restrictions on High in Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS) will affect retailers and manufacturers.
Another inspiring element has to do with the people that work in this industry. I really appreciate the diversity of the industry and how you can meet people with so many different backgrounds and interests and there is no single path for people to end up working in market research. Accordingly, I like how the industry is very vocal and committed to inclusion and diversity with organisations like the Market Research Society (MRS) pushing for the CEO Inclusion Pledge or the Women in Research (WIRe) advocating for more female representation. There are many examples of women in leadership positions across the industry and within Kantar, who are great role models for women like me starting our own career journey.
What message do you have for anyone considering a career in our industry?
For people who are about to start a career in our industry I’d tell them to be curious!
Market research is wide and encompassing but at its heart it is about asking the right questions for your clients and finding the answers. Often this is not obvious, so curiosity is essential in breaking down and understanding the interplaying factors of strategy, competition, context and methodology.
I would also encourage them to try to reach out to other people in the industry, ask for help and guidance and for development opportunities, and if you can, try to find a mentor as it is extremely useful to be able to bounce ideas with other people and learn from their experiences.
How do very junior researchers stand out?
I would suggest be very proactive!
Read about your subject area on the news, on social media and then share what you see with your team. For example, I follow a lot of FMCG brands on my Instagram and LinkedIn, and I keep up to date with what they publish on social media, and in specialist publications like The Grocer. I also go to different supermarkets and pay attention to how the products are laid out and what new brands and products have been launched within the snacking world (which is also a good excuse to keep buying extra biscuits!). Being proactive and having your own thoughts and opinions can definitely help you to stand out!
Another way is to participate and volunteer on activities beyond your everyday role, either inside or outside your company. Be curious and get engaged, as there are plenty of options available. For example, I am part of the FMCG Employee Recognition programme at Kantar and I also collaborated with the Extraordinary People volunteering programme and was part of the Social Committee. But there are many other ways you can contribute and find something you are passionate about within your company or within the wider Market Research industry – from being a mental health advocate, leading yoga sessions, taking part in a book club or on Inclusion & Diversity committees. The world is your oyster and it’s about finding what makes you unique and sharing it with the world!