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Aligning Department and Organizational Goals with LeapFrog/VTech

As we all know, some insight syndicates have more impact on their clients and companies than others. This podcast focuses on those organizations that are doing a good job making an impact- and in different ways.

We’ll be talking with captains from symbols and from suppliers that have made a lot of these steps and missteps. We’ll cover the definition of success, how you know if you’re being successful, how to organize around that intuition and other related topics.

Our guest today is Linda Pacheco, Director of Consumer Insights at LeapFrog/ VTech. Prior to Leapfrog/ Vtech, Linda hampered primacies at Blue Cross, Walmart, and Intuit. Her definition of success is based on providing an impact on the organization- and with a limited budget.

We cover a number of topics in this podcast. A few of the highlights are aligning the goals of the department instantly with the goals of the organization- and a genuinely direct alignment for a product-driven society. Another interesting topic is the pros and cons of being an insight organization heavily focused on DIY. Another key topic is the alignment between the penetration group and the other functional areas to be embedded in the entire decision process.

Please read the record or listen to the interview for more about his perspective on the goals of the organization, how to align the structure to the goals, and adapting to change within your own organization.

Gregg Archibald

Managing Partner, Gen2 Advisors.

Overview of Interview

Gregg Archibald Hi everybody. This is Gregg Archibald from Gen2 Advisors, I want to welcome you to our podcast.

This is going to be one in a series, are concentrated on how various organizations are achieving success in the penetrations function.

We’re going to be looking at symbols and suppliers, of different sizes, shapes, and patterns, and we’re going to be discussing what success really is, how it’s defined, how to get it on, trials and tribulations, their interaction with purchasers, and suppliers, and what the future holds.

I am pleased to introduce our guest today, Linda Pacheco, Director of Consumer Insights for LeapFrog and VTech, a ex-serviceman of the penetrations industry.

In addition to LeapFrog and VTech, Linda Pacheco has wasted some time at Time Warner, Blue Shield, Walmart, Intuit, and a few others along the way.

Linda Pacheco, thank you for being here.

Linda Pacheco Glad to be here.

Gregg Archibald Can you tell us a bit of LeapFrog and VTech only to get us grounded on the kind of industry you are in?

Linda Pacheco LeapFrog has been a maker of educational playthings for children since 1996, started by Mike Wood. His son had difficulty with the chimes notes moved, so he could not teach him how to read. And so, being an engineer( I meditate ), he developed this reading invention for his son, and it evolved into the LeapReader, which was one of the first commodities of its nature for children. I got it for my lad when he was little.

And then LeapFrog derived and originated into a leading symbol in educational content and inventions “for childrens”, primarily from ages 0-8 years old.

We have all kinds of kids’ tablets. We were the first ones “re coming out” with the kids’ tablet. And VTech was our adversary. So, they bought us. Now we are only one big company. We have a subscription program called LeapFrog Academy that you can get from various app places but we too preload it on our latest kids’ tablets. And then we have a knot of different handheld devices.

Gregg Archibald And how long ago was that purchase?

Linda Pacheco

2016

Gregg Archibald So can you tell us a little bit about the revelations department at VTech/ LeapFrog?

In periods of the kinds of projects that you guys work on, the number of beings that are in there, are you able afford us a little of perspective?

Linda Pacheco Yes, VTech did not have an internal investigate purpose until they purchased LeapFrog. So, we are the research function for both brands. There are five people on the team.

I introduced a great deal of the software that is needed to do research in-house to lower the cost.

So, we use a lot of Sawtooth Software for conjoint, MaxDiff, and things of that nature. It costs a good deal of coin to go outside and have a company conduct a conjoint study for you. I know that because I was also on the supplier side for many years.

Now, it is basically time the five of us, two of us concentrates mainly on qualitative research.

We likewise have an in-house kid lab in our house with a one-way mirror between the testing and observation rooms. We delivering kids in there constantly for the producers to watch them work with their application, or with our doll examples before we ever consider launching a product.

And we also have a learning team, which are all PhDs in child development, and they have to OK any kind of content that is put in any of our toys.

We are mostly, the age strays from two to seven years old, but teenagers generally drop away right around 6 or 7, and they start using iPads. So the “sweet spot” is something like 3 to 6.

VTech, on the other side, has the same types of makes, but theirs are considered less educational with more bells and whistles, so they’re viewed as a bit more fun for girls because they have all these different light-footeds twinkling on them and buttons to push.

Our symbols are somewhat different, we are right now trying to figure out how to combine the two labels, but we’ll leave the words the same.

We’re trying to understand, who should we be selling to? Is it the older kid who wants more of the electronics? Or do we focus on boys and girls that are younger? Mothers are looking for an educational type of toy to sort of ease the shame that they might feel when they made them in front of TV to get chores done. In this way at least they know their children are learning something.

Gregg Archibald Ok, so you spoke about two of the people are more focused on qualitative, and you have got a kid lab, I am assuming that is 1 or 2 parties, or that is integrated with the qualitative.

Linda Pacheco The two qualitative people on the team are user ordeal experts; with training in ethnography and heuristic usability testing. They are very well-trained, and they cope the baby lab.

Gregg Archibald And then the other three people on the team play what persona?

Linda Pacheco So of the other three, two places great importance on quantitative, and 1 focuses on applying the research to brand and purchaser strategy. Someone will come to us generally from produce change. And “were working with” both the Hong Kong office because that is VTech as well as the dolls part, which is out of Arlington Heights, Illinois.

We[ LeapFrog] are available with Emeryville, California, so it is a little bit tough, having regard to the logistics, peculiarly the time differences.

I have them submit a research brief, basically just says, what’s strategic objectives, what is the big question, what are you going to use with the information for, and how it is going to positively affect the business.

I try to shy away from anything that starts with “I have always wanted to know”, or something really to satisfy curiosity. You have to be a very curious person to be a researcher, but I am not going to waste limited resources on trying to answer questions that are not really going to move the business.

Gregg Archibald What are some of the types of key business questions that you are addressing, you mentioned: user suffer, and you spoke about really trying to get deeper into defining the target market.

What are some other big categories of work that you guys do?

Linda Pachec0 The types of research that we do, certainly passed the scope. We start with brainstorming feelings for brand-new commodities at the start of this year, which usually has a two-year opening to develop them.

And we will take a bunch of those ideas and precisely summarize them in three or four decisions since they are just opinions at the time.

And we will do a theory test to those used 15, 20 ideas in there to see what rises to the surpass in terms of activating some interest so that we know which ones we should recommend product increase take to the next step.

These are not fully developed but as they are developing them, they keep coming back for testing with the babies at every stage. So, that is why it is nice having the child laboratory right there because we can send them there. However, it is a highly clinical determine, so when we get further along, we do not use the kid lab, we will actually send the product to consumers’ homes and do in-home testing and ethnographies. It’s only in the very early stage that we will bring them into the lab.

Then, at that point, we weed out which are the big ideas, and then we will make those impressions- the three or four that come out of it- and the authorities concerned will do a full hypothesi evaluation. They will develop some stimulation to see what it looks like. As we go along, we might even develop a video demo of what it will look like and how it might work to see whether this has a lot of petition both for the parents and the kids.

We will interview children depending upon their age, and mothers as well.

Sometimes the kids are too young. They simply affection everything, but we generally hear the views from the mother, and it is usually the mother unless it is a high-end electronic maneuver, at which point the daddies want to get involved.

Gregg Archibald So, it sounds like most of the work that you do is new product development,

Linda Pacheco We too figure out pricing through purchase meaning and sometimes volumetric studies.

So, we can see how many new produces we might be able to sell, so Sales can figure out their plans.

And then we will do other things like A/ B testing online to see whether there is certain messaging or ranking that sells better than others.

Gregg Archibald So caused us get into, certainly, the heart of our debates, which is for your insights arrangement at LeapFrog and VTech. What is success? How do you characterize success?

Linda Pacheco Success depending on when they[ senior management] listen. There are terms where they will say,’ we can’t do what the research says’; for instance, price world prices lower because that is what people are expecting to pay for something or “re going to have to” commission more than consumers told us they are expecting to pay because they have to cover the materials and manufacturing costs.

Or because’ we’ll time lose sales’ or prefer to go with their nerve. At durations when they follow what the research has said they should do, and it manipulates, that is what we, in the revelations agency, consider a success.

What we do not consider is, when they launch with something that we said they should not do, we still think it is a success, because the research was right. But being right does not sell anything. So, we are not too happy about it. But then we will go back out to find out why it did not sell. And often, it goes back to what they did not be used in the research.

Gregg Archibald So, success is when you, influence the organization in a way that they make a better decision?

Linda Pacheco Correct.

Gregg Archibald For the Insights department. How do you align the goals of the organization around that, and how do you kind of measure your effectiveness in influencing decisions in that consumer-centric way?

Linda Pacheco They have fulfills in Hong Kong every quarter. And the make directors for each of these products will go to these meetings, and they will present the research data, saying we should move along with this one, or we should not promote this one, or let’s impart more research for it.

So that is how we decide whether or not we’re actually achieving the goals of the department- if Hong Kong decides to actually move ahead with the projects that we’ve said should get the green light, then we feel we’ve done our jobs.

Gregg Archibald Would the conversation of that are accurate if they decide not to move ahead, recommend?

Linda Pacheco Correct. And we have recommended against more often than we recommend they go forward.

Gregg Archibald And do you obstruct assess around that, what you have, within your own individual corporate goals to say for example that we want to be accurate 87% at a time? How do you align that to your individual accomplishment goals?

Linda Pacheco What I have been doing since I have been at LeapFrog- which is for a little over seven years now- I have developed a normative database. So, we can look at the metrics that we collected at all different stages of make improvement, and say, when you make this particular metric on plea or uniqueness or likely to buy, or expected price range, we have encounter success.

And we then fix what the numbers are for those successful concoctions, so that when we are doing testing, during the early stages, “theyre saying”, OK you need to at least have say, 65% in terms of appeal otherwise it is not going to make it, and you have to be within this price range, or no one’s going to buy it.

We know from all previous study that we have done on a wide variety of products what those metrics should be at all the different stages of development.

Gregg Archibald You mentioned a while ago that you produced a lot of things in-house as part of a budget-saving measure. Can you talk a little bit about what you look for to keep in-house and the kinds of projects that you may look for for more strategic partners?

Linda Pacheco We actually do not go outside very often, except in cases of qualitative operate. The software that we purchase is for conjoint and MaxDiff studies. We use those when we want to understand what the key attributes of the product are that we can then tell advertising that they should be focusing on. Because with a competitive conjoint you can assess what boasts drive sales.

So we know what the price should be and what the value is for each of those qualities( or commodity pieces ). And engineering can take a look at that and say, OK, we can’t open to set this thing in there because it will drive the price up to this.

We can also do a TURF analysis to see what the optimal produce configuration should be. These are the attributes that you should have if you want to sell the digit you need to cover its cost.

The only time we go outside is when we do qualitative piece. We will go to a company, like 2020 Technology( they were just acquired by Schlesinger Group ), and we will do a QualBoard. We cause them do the banking, and then we oversee the actual QualBoard.

We write the discussion guide for the QualBoard, we write the screener for their recruitment team. We do everything. We simply need their implement, peculiarly their QuaLaborate tool, which allows you to do heat mapping on bundle idols, say, so you know what stands out, and what does not stand out. So when we do competitive package, we will use a QualBoard.

Remember, when we do in-house testing, we go to their homes. So logistically it would be necessary to our illusions within the California area. And that does not speak to the nation. What is nice about a QualBoard is that you can get 30 women online, from all over the country, for 3-4 eras, which allows you to iterate on artistic intends and exam again the next day.

Gregg Archibald We have talked a great deal about new product growing, and all along that hertz from the ideation through forecasting.

And when I think about, a lot of the research issues or business issues that researchers commonly take over, there are some other components of that; commerce, communications, patron ordeal, and symbol policy, which includes targeting, positioning.

Do you work in any of those other three?

Linda Pacheco We provide input to all of them.

We will work with advertising, social media, we really work with everybody in the company, providing them the revelations for each of their different neighborhoods. And like I said, in the early stage, the authorities concerned will do abstraction testing. But once the produce is in the development stage, then we will try to go out there and find out the best messaging for it based on its competitive give. What will distinguish our produce from their commodity that we should be pushing on? And we will use the penetrations from the MaxDiff and from the conjoint to say, you are familiar with, if you furnish these features and features, you can beat out your key competitors.

Unless it is a brand new novel thing, like when we firstly came out with the kid tablet, we did not have anybody to liken it to, so it was pretty easy to grab market share, it sold like hotcakes. But now the kid tablet is a commodity and everyone is selling them.

Gregg Archibald I did not want to pay short shrift to those other pieces.

You guys are kind of doing more in this DIY world, where you are working with, conjoint and Max Diff. And I am sure some of the forecasting implements. How long ago did you guys start to compile that change, to be, as in-house as you are, today?

Linda Pacheco When I arrived at LeapFrog in 2013.

Gregg Archibald Ok, so, 7 years. Can you talk a little bit about the good and the bad of meeting that alter?

Linda Pacheco The good constituent is, it is definitely a cost-saving. When I first started now, they asked me, what can you do to lower the cost of research because the revelations are not truly driving any kind of ROI.

I said, well, I cannot tell you about the ROI, because you have to listen to the research. And the only way to really tell whether it is good or bad is to go one route versus the other, and then test both paths parallel. Well , no one’s going to do that because they risk losing sales in the testing.

I said I could help reduce costs by doing whatever study we can in-house since I had done all of these various skills. All I needed was the application. And rather than spending, you know, $200,000 on a conjoint, or a few extra thousand every time the research called for a MaxDiff, we bought $19,000 of application, and now can do as many as we want. So, we just buy samples to send our on-line survey to, and that is how we continue our costs down.

Gregg Archibald So, that is the good side of it. Can you talk a little bit about the bad slope?

Linda Pacheco The bad place is that we can do so much that we can get too many requests of’ the work requires a conjoint, more, ’ and there is still the same number of parties on the team that I had when I started.

How do you prioritize when all of a sudden everybody wants to do it? And so, I have to go out and have the president construct government decisions, so he gets a project list from me every other week. And there are usually about 10 to 15 projects on it, and he will just say which ones are a priority based on the business.

Gregg Archibald That is a very easy prioritization process. I have done this within large organisations, and that sounds like the most painless I have ever heard.

Linda Pacheco It was not that channel in the initial stages. Until VTech bought us, it was everyone only complaining to me,’ why isn’t my campaign getting done? ’ And none wanted to decide priorities for the company. The CMO liked this, and the president liked that, and the finance director craved this. And business knowledge said this was more important and nobody got together to decide on it, they are only howled at us. So, I obliged the decision that’ you guys have to decide the prioritization and the authorities concerned will merely do the research, but “youre asking me” which things to do first, then second, and if I cannot do them, then you have to give me the resources to be able to supplement.’

Gregg Archibald Many organizations look at themselves in different ways. Some bands think of themselves as the articulate of the customer, as tactical consultants, as marketing researchers, or data commentators, and a knot of interesting thing. How would you describe studies and research insights operate at LeapFrog?

Linda Pacheco We are a little bit of everything. I would say that we are really, at the very early stages, the expert consultants, strategic consultants. Does this is something that align with what it is you are trying to do on the basis of the metrics that we know about our purchasers? Is this a good fit?

And then as we go along, we will recommend that they remove something or contribute something because that is really the motorist of actually selling it. It’s not just the appeal of something or the uniqueness of it.

We get mommies all the time, for instance, that say’ my baby is going to use that all the time, look at the cost of batteries! ’ But someone has to decide if it is worth lay a rechargeable artillery in there or a connector cable as opposed to saying that the toy expects six AA batteries.

We will recommend the whole thing all the way up to the engineering side. Now, they may push back on it and say no, the cost is ten extra horses to lay in a rechargeable artillery and we will simply say, ’OK but realize you are not going to sell as numerous because the number one thing mummies craved was waterproof and rechargeable batteries’.

We will propagandize what we can push, but we will be in there all the way. Even after the facts of the case, the authorities concerned will do an attitude usage study, to see what other aspects we might add to the next handout of a specific type of product.

What are they saying they wish they could do more of? What don’t they use very much that we may be able to eliminate, or augment with something that they think is much more useful for their adolescents? Because most of these concoctions have progress reports, parents can see how well their child is doing in different areas.

They may not be using certain things that expense us fund to put in there that they never even use. So, the authorities concerned will do all of that even at the end, and take it to the customer experience level, and say, what you want, and then bring that intelligence back to the product and commerce squads. And then eventually, that goes to the engineers.

They are the hardest ones to convince.

Gregg Archibald Can “youre talking” a bit of how your crew integrates with your internal purchasers, whether that be engineering or selling? Do you guys participate in their team converges? Are you brought in on a project through a research brief? Can you talk a little bit about the relationship between revelations and the internal purchasers?

Linda Pacheco It is a little bit different than what I was used to when I was at Intuit, or Walmart.com. Walmart.com had 23 different departments, and I would periodically exactly work with the top four selling lists. Here, “its more” of every day, I am in contacts with either advertising or make exploitation or content or individual producers or the learn team.

It is just constant. We are involved in all the meetings and there are times where I are really say, “exclude me, I am not good at that. I am not good at brainstorming or being super creative. Become talk to Steve.” And I will transmit Steve or Alissa to that see, one of the other parties on the team, because that is not my forte.

And so I pretty much have to limit the number of contacts they have with us because it would just be non-stop.

Gregg Archibald So, to its implementation of this planning process that you mentioned, you got, from ideation to forecasting planning process built on a two-year cycle, but you are also running research briefs. You are also getting investigate briefs from people that need to know something in that moment or as the business cycle has changed, or whatever that may be.

How do you balance this idea of a very clear learning agenda with adapting to the needs of the organizations, as it may shift from week to week or month to month?

Linda Pacheco It is pretty well set up. We know that October is the meeting where PD Managers have to present the ideas that will move forward into the April fits, where they will actually decide on which commodities are going to be developed in the next year. And then it goes into the plan, so we have a timeline that we have to follow.

The only time we get ad hocs is if it is something quick and dirty. Otherwise, everything is pretty much projected out for the whole year as to what projects us to be able to do. And when it is ad hoc, they usually just come to me, because I can get something done a lot faster than anybody else on my team, just because I have been doing research for so many years.

So, if they say, “Hong Kong will not listen to us about this, are you able do a quick study to find out which creative we should be using for our next Smartwatch? ” I are able to obtain that done in 10 periods. So I will go out there and get it on, and then they have something to go back to Hong Kong with instead of insisting with them, “theyre saying”, “this is what the research says.” And they pretty much use the research to make all their points.

Gregg Archibald Let us talk about the future a little, and how things may change. We know that there is a lot going on in the research industry, from the types of data available. And the path usability testing is done, then the road in-home use experiments are done. Then, the idea of data democratization, get as much information into as numerous hands as is practicable. Agile approaches, there is just a wide variety of really important directions. When you think about your district three, four, or five years out, what would you like to see then that you do not see now?

Linda Pacheco I love that question. I should just like to do a segmentation study to truly understand who our purchasers are and how we can message to the different segments within there. Right now most firms will look at demographics but demographics do not tell you anything.

I give the example of Sylvester Stallone and Woody Allen; the government has similar demographics. But I guarantee they buy different produces. And different sends will work differently for them. When I said here today that, they[ control] depart,’ oh, yeah, good point.’

I truly was necessary to do segmentation, but it is not something that anyone bureau sees as important. It really has to be a companywide thing. So, there is a requirement to do that on the two sides, and in seven years, we still have not finished it. And I think it would be so potent to have.

The next thing is a library. We have no library where all the research that has been done in the past is organized, all past investigate that’s been done is literally really shed on this one drive. And when people want to do a study we can say, we did a study like that are currently, and we know the answer to that question, but it’s really hard to find it unless you have an planned library.

I’m getting started, I’ve actually got somebody on the team now that’s going to focus on that, as well as a newsletter, publishing what we learn every quarter, and what we’re planning on in terms of future study. In this mode, anybody who has questions that might be related to upcoming research can piggyback on and we can incorporate their questions into the same survey, saving day and money.

So, more of introducing it together, so that everybody knows pretty much what we are working on, what we have done in the past, the cost that it has had because they can see it from the sales side. And then, likewise, where to find everything.

But I still judge the key is segmentation. And yes, we are still working on it.

Everyone agrees that it would be great if we understood our customers and the different segments that they find themselves in, how they differ in their behavioral attitudes, and things of that sort, yet nobody is asking for it. The point is there is too much ad hoc research to do to even fit it in.

Gregg Archibald I fully understand your dilemma. I have worked on that. I devoted a great deal of time on the client-side, some with more coin than others, and I wholly understand the quagmire, and good luck to you.

Linda, I want to thank you for your time here today, your thoughts and penetrations, and this has been wonderful. I think we have plowed almost everything that I wanted to cover or any other parting messages of knowledge for us.

Linda Pacheco Now, you just mentioned one thing that I remember, which is when I was at Walmart, it was Walmart.com. We had money like you would not believe, and we did a segmentation. And that is what brought us actually virtually on a par with Amazon. That was about 11 several years ago, and it was just so happy to put out a investigation and get 10,000 rebuttals in about 25 instants. We only can’t get that kind of response rate like a Walmart. That is because half of the US browses at a Walmart, but not at LeapFrog.

Gregg Archibald Thank you for your time.

Linda Pacheco Take care.

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