What are consumers saying about your packaging? ListenLogic sees the Internet as the world’s largest focus group for finding that out. More…


There’s no doubt that social media plays an important role as a tool for brand owners. It can also serve as two-way influencer: look at what happened to SunChips after the crinkly bags were panned widely and harshly at blogs and elsewhere in cyberspace as too loud. The negative online “chatter” contributed to Frito-Lay’s all but removing the environmentally friendly bags, made of 100% polylactic acid (PLA) from the market.

For some companies, like ListenLogic, monitoring social media is old hat. Instead, ListenLogic is tapping the next frontier: Social Market Research.  Unlike social media monitoring, which simply reports top-level “buzz,” social market research uncovers the deeper insights held within public social data using sophisticated research methodologies, expert analysts and advanced technology.

I spoke with Mark Langsfeld, ListenLogic founder and CEO, to learn more about the technology and what it offers relative to packaging.

The information the company extracts from the Web is derived from publicly available sources including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, communities…“wherever people are talking about packaging on the Internet,” Langsfeld says. “We are able to pull together an aggregated view about the product and packaging globally.” That’s done using proprietary software and expert analysis.
“What we’re doing is listening to what people are saying on the Web,” says Langsfeld. “Our clients want to understand their customers, their attitudes, their needs, and what they’d love to see in the products.” The data also includes profiles of age, ethnicity, geography, and other information.

Sourced from 2,500 to 250,000,000+ consumers

The technology allows brand owners to tap the unbiased views of what people like or don’t like from a pool of anywhere from a few thousand people or “north of 250 million,” says Langsfeld, who notes that the people doing the “talking” are the highly desirable “involved consumers.”

Clients have included Red Bull, Thomas’, and Entenmann’s.

The research can be done as a single-project snapshot or ListenLogic can continuously “sniff” the Internet on behalf of its clients. Langsfeld says packaging wasn’t part of the conversation two years ago, but along with quality and ingredients, it naturally became a core element of what people talk about-and what ListenLogic was hearing. “And with more people ‘talking’ on the Internet, we have more data points available today,” says Langsfeld. “We can dig in deeper to a lot more issues, including packaging.” He adds that consumers write about packaging naturally, including their experiences in opening packages or wondering about reusing packaging.

He believes that gathering unprompted consumer views is the evolution of the traditional focus group. “People talk about products and packaging whether or not you’re listening to them,” he points out. “You can get early insights for aspects that you never knew to ask.”

Bagged bread breakthrough?

For example, when ListenLogic analyzed a major brand in the sliced bread market, it found that 9% of consumers-in particular individuals who are single and/or living alone-were freezing the bread. The client had not realized that this practice was so prevalent. Armed with this data, the brand is currently considering freezer-friendlier packaging and/or packaging half loaves to extend product freshness to the time of consumption.

The difference in their data versus consumer packaged goods companies that have a prominent social media presence such as PepsiCo is that ListenLogic applies advanced technology to mine public data daily. It can then apply sophisticated analytical software to understand the surrounding issues and attitudes.

Lessons learned from SunChips

I asked what role would ListenLogic have played in the SunChips situation. Interestingly enough, ListenLogic picked up the Internet “noise” the overly loud bags created.

“Yes, people complained about the noise being very noisy, but the product comes in two different sizes: a multiuse family bag and a single-serve package,” he points out. “Most of the complaints centered on the small size where privacy was an issue. The family size didn’t matter as much, because consumers dumped it into a bowl or ate it in a kitchen environment where there was already noise.” By contrast, the small, noisy bag drew unwanted attention in locations where consumers may want to snack discreetly, such as at work, he adds.

Langsfeld says a snapshot view with ListenLogic is around $25,000, or about the cost of a focus group. A continuous, year-long tracking study would be the equivalent of two focus group tests.
He says potential clients typically have something in mind when they approach ListenLogic. The company conducts a preliminary check to ensure that, in the words of Langsfeld, “there’s a there” to justify the investment.

Being a fly on the wall of the Web would be an interesting place for brand owners to be to see what consumers really think about their product and packaging.