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Dannon’s Olesya Govorun

Dannon's Olesya Govorun

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Dannon's Olesya Govorun Shares How Consumer Research Can Improve In-Store Communication
The Dannon Company, a U.S. division of Paris-based multinational food corporation Danone, produces a broad range of over 200 varieties, styles and flavors of refrigerated and frozen dairy products. With so many choices from both Dannon and other dairy brands, Olesya Govorun, as the company's Director of Strategy and Insights, was charged with designing new consumer research to better gauge consumers' perceptions of their shopping experience for better-for-you foods.

Ms. Govorun's background is in social psychology—in fact, she holds a Ph.D. from Ohio State—so she was looking to uncover deep, relevant human insights with implications for the consumer journey, which would, in turn, inspire organizational engagement and even provide a number of game-changing strategies for the marketing process. She shared her findings at the ANA's inaugural Masters of Measurement conference last month in New York. The event was introduced to provide client-side marketers with practical ideas on improving decision-making through measurement.

In fact, Olesya Govorun believes that emotional elements are often overlooked in shopper marketing. She designed her research to learn what could excite a consumer about a product they may currently view as "basic" or "functional." She and her team chose to focus on exploring health and wellness shopping behavior to find what would resonate with a consumer's fundamental human motivations to purchase better-for-you foods.

Danone globally, and locally in the US, has a broad portfolio spanning four categories: dairy, water, early life nutrition, and medical nutrition. The portfolio includes a range of brands such as Activia, Oikos, Light & Fit and YoCrunch in conventional dairy, as well as Stonyfield Farm in organic dairy, Evian in bottled water, Happy Family early life nutrition, and Nutricia in medical nutrition. All are united by a corporate mission to provide healthful nutrition. According to Olesya, "We are focused on health through food, so we are always interested in redefining how people view food and the role it plays in their lives."

Specific to Dannon, Ms. Govorun's research began by forming an online community of individuals who were living or aspiring to live healthy lives. She was aiming for consecutive learnings, as well as an understanding of any diversity or insights by geography and by retailer. As a result, the research program occurred over 4 weeks, and produced a vast amount of rich emotional data, including over 3,400 shopper stories from all the regions of the U.S. The process involved observation of behavior and reflections for the first two weeks through individual blogging, while the latter portion focused on crowd interpretation, gaming, discussion and peer-to-peer interaction. The study also asked consumers to rate retailers in terms of ambiance, items in stock, pricing, and other factors.

The results were refined to focus on 14 key insights, aligned across different retailers, with an easy-to-use shopper story dashboard, sortable by relevant filters. The project generated over 75 actionable, new ideas inspired by Dannon's cross-functional teams in shopper marketing, category management, sales, and ad agencies, to both influence the company's business at retail and better connect with consumers. Activating health in store can be a difficult task, but Ms. Govorun is confident that with the insights she and her team have uncovered, Dannon and its retail partners will be able to relate to the shoppers on a deeper, emotional level.

It's often said: "What gets measured is what gets done." However, in the case of Dannon and Olesya Govorun's research, much was accomplished. She helped to provide an organization with a richer understanding of shoppers' interests, while encouraging organizational interaction to create shopper-inspired retail concepts.

A native of Ukraine, Olesya Govorun joined Dannon in 2011. A passionate advocate of consumer psychology within the company and in the broader market research community, she started her marketing research career at Burke and TNS in Cincinnati. She is the author of seven publications in academic journals and has received several professional awards. Ms. Govorun holds an Executive M.B.A. degree from Purdue University and a doctorate in social psychology from Ohio State University.