Online Communities: Del Monte Foods Turns to Millions of Dog Owners to Unleash Innovation

Innovation through Collaboration
A Case Study

It’s not easy to be an innovator in a mature, intensely competitive market. Yet the payoff for new products and services that delight customers is enormous. The question for marketers is how to stay plugged in to the fast-changing behaviors, preferences, and opinions of their target consumers—particularly in today’s online era, where time and attention spans are short.

No company is more aware of the challenges or the rewards of innovation than Del Monte Foods. Since its inception during the California Gold Rush of 1849, Del Monte has become a $3 billion company, leading the food industry in innovative processing, distribution, and marketing practices.

Recently, the Pet Products Division of Del Monte Foods decided to leverage Insight Networks, a new offering from MarketTools, to connect with dog owners in a whole new way in order to get closer to them, gain fresh perspectives on their attitudes and behaviors, and drive true innovation.
"Through previous research we had identified one particular segment of the dog-owner community as a target for most of our dog brands, and we wanted to really understand the needs, motivations and attitudes of that segment in more depth," said Gala Amoroso, Senior Market Research Manager at Del Monte Foods.

However, the Pet Products Division found that traditional market research techniques simply weren’t providing the depth of customer understanding that the company required. Traditional qualitative research methods are either too time consuming (ethnographies) or do not allow enough time for deep consumer understanding (focus groups). Quantitative methods, although useful for answering specific questions did not allow for interactive exploration and observation.
"We needed a new alternative that would allow us to open a dialog with the people in our target segment," said Ms. Amoroso.

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