Ep #7 – Dhairya Shah on Agency-Side vs Brand-side in Consumer Insights

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Market research

Ep #7 – Dhairya Shah on Agency-Side vs Brand-side in Consumer Insights

Welcome to the seventh episode of ‘Heureka – The Insights podcast’ by thelightbulb.ai.

In this episode, we are hosting Dhairya Shah from Tata Motors who has an extensive experience of working from agency as well as consumer side. Listen to the full episode here.

Guest: Dhairya Shah

Dhairya Shah is currently working Tata Motors as Deputy General Manager, Marketing Research, Commercial Vehicles. He has over 15 years of experience in the industry with leading research brands, such as IMRB International, The Nielsen Company, and Evalueserve.

His experience of working with both – brand side and agency side – makes him one of the rare expert in the industry. He is passionate about the subject of happiness, human behaviour, equity markets, reading, travelling and sports.

Host: Ritu Soni Srivastava

Heureka – The Insights Podcast is a series of podcast episodes hosted by Ritu Soni Srivastava, who is a seasoned entrepreneur, focused on her current startup thelightbulb.ai, a full-stack emotion ai platform for digital interactions that has scanned more than 8 million faces for emotion analysis. She has held pivotal profiles across deep-tech, health-tech, telecom and media companies over the last 20 years. Her cross-industries experience gives her a unique edge in understanding consumer trends and insights across verticals.

In the podcast, Dhairya shares some interesting experiences, challenges and solutions of working from agency as well as brand side.

Engagement and Sentiment Analysis of Podcast

Note: Engagement and sentiment analysis are generated using thelightbulb.ai’s  Insights Pro

Voice Transcripts of Podcast

Note: Transcription of the podcast is generated using thelightbulb.ai’s Insights Pro

Heureka by thelightbulb.ai, The Insights podcast.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Huereka by thelightbulb.ai, The Insights podcast. Hi, everybody, and welcome to the, I don’t know which Episode of the Hureka, the Insights podcast. Today, we have a very, very special guest with us. Uh, we have Dhairya Shah Shah, Who’s the DGM for market research for Tata Motors for the commercial vehicles division, and I personally am very, very excited to have Dhairya with us today Because he’s one of the rare consumer insights professionals who brings with him a lot of experience from the agency side. He’s been with Evalueserve.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: He’s been with IMRB. He’s been with Nielsen, and now he’s on the consumer side. So he’s really crossed the dream for any any agency folk. So welcome, and thank you so much, Darya, for joining us on the Breakup podcast today.

Dhairya Shah: Hi. Thank you too for having me here.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Absolutely. It’s our pleasure. Um, I know I’ve given the team A brief introduction about you, but I would love to hear from your mouth a little bit about your journey, how you came to be in the consumer side of the business, and how you grew throughout your professional career to get here. So over to you.

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. Thanks, Ritu. So I think as Ritu mentioned, uh, I started my career with Kantar, I think in the year, uh, 2008. That was a campus placement, and, uh, there I handled a lot of clients spanning across, uh, Telecom, FMCG, Tobacco. Uh, then I moved on to.

Dhairya Shah: Uh, I was there for about three and a half years. So their auto was my forte. So I worked I worked for a lot of auto clients and also a lot of auto component clients. In fact, the highlight of the standard Nielsen was that I worked on a study It was commissioned by SIAM. And, uh, so the inputs of that study were used to develop the FAME policy.

Dhairya Shah: The first, uh, FAME policy, Which is the faster adoption and manufacturing of electric vehicles. I think now it’s in phase 2, and the government is discussing, uh, the phase 3, uh, part as well. So that was the highlight. And the second thing that I, uh, uh, loved about my Nielsen strength was that I did a study for the, uh, the Automotive component manufacturer association. And yeah.

Dhairya Shah: And that was done, uh, under the guidance for mister Swamitro, But Achaaji was now heading Porsche India. So that was a a great, uh, study where we actually, That for the first time, uh, the, uh, assessment of Indian automotive aftermarket. So, essentially, uh, the spare parts That will be sold, uh, that are sold, uh, after, uh, the vehicle, uh, gets out of warranty. Yeah. So that was the first ever attempt in the Indian, uh, automotive history.

Dhairya Shah: And I think now it still continues. They they have an annual edition, Uh, which is, again, I think named Indian automotive aftermarket. So that was a that was a good study. I learned a lot a lot. Met a lot of clients, uh, met a lot of, uh, mechanics, met a lot of customers.

Dhairya Shah: So that was a good study. So Nielsen was, Uh, more into auto, uh, more into b to b, I would say, because, uh, we also did a lot of studies on channel. So channel satisfaction, Channel strategy, uh, and, uh, the distributor dynamics in various categories like cement, textile. I mean, it’s I mean, when you get into it, it’s it’s quite it’s quite amazing how the category dynamics are different. And, uh, I don’t know how many people know this, but, There are certain cities which are more of, uh, hubs of exchange of commodities.

Dhairya Shah: So they are, Uh, they have the largest wholesale markets like Delhi and Bombay and maybe Chennai, but there are consumption hubs. So the dynamics of a consumption hub versus a hub which is more into exchange of commodities, which is wholesale, It’s very different. So, I mean so that that was a great insight to have during my stint and needs, and and then I moved on to EvaluServ. EvaluServ Again, uh, I, uh, I was handling the consumer goods division. Uh, I was part of the consumer goods division, and, Uh, again, there, uh, the exposure was very different because EvaluServe generally works with I mean, more than 95% of the business Comes from, uh, clients outside India.

Dhairya Shah: So the so the culture is very different. And as you would know, working with Indian clients and working with Americans And even Europeans. The culture was very different. Uh, the studies, uh, again, from a from a primary perspective, Uh, I shift I shift it to a secondary perspective. So we did more of database scanning, more of Expert calling rather than doing, uh, consumer calls in Massey as we do in, uh, primary research.

So that was a good learning. And, again, the These are very different. And the interesting thing about Evano service that they also have a intellectual property division. So we used to work very closely with the IEP division, Murphy value serve.

I think it’s one of the largest, uh, in the world in terms of the The people that they have. So I’ll tell you an interesting study that we did for clients is to analyze patents. Because as you would know, uh, a patent From from the stage of getting granted to the stage of getting into the market in some form, which is commercial development, Will take 3 to 5 years depending on what kind of technology or what kind of segment are you, uh, are you getting into? So if you analyze patents, uh, you would come to know that your competition is working towards what. So the pipeline of products can be guesstimated, and we we did this for a lot of, uh, FMCT companies.

And it was it was it was a great study, and I think, Uh, a lot of companies all already do patent analysis, but for me, it was it was a revelation that could actually understand the strategy of a company and also maybe the future product, uh, pipeline by just analyzing the patterns.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: So Nice.

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. Yeah. So

Ritu Soni Srivastava: That’s a very, very insightful angle into research that I actually have never heard of Or so Very cool. Very cool. So so tell me, Haria, uh, you’re now at the helm of the insights team for such A massive brand. Like, Tata Motors is looked up to with the reverence that Tata is, you know, considered within the country. What does a regular day look like for you?

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. So regular day, I think I mean, Uh, as compared to a research company, whether I think the day, uh, starts at maybe 10 or 11. My day starts early in Tata Motors because we are a manufacturing company. So I start getting calls at, like, 8:30 AM or even 8 AM.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Oh my god.

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s a different, uh, culture Because, uh, it’s a manufacturing company. The the the median age, so to say, maybe 40 or 45 as compared to a research company where the Median age is 25. K.

So the work culture is different. Expectations are different. Uh, so A typical day, generally, uh-uh, for right now, I am in December, and so it’s a season because I say season because We follow fiscal years. So a lot of, uh, CSATs, uh, have to be, uh, launched, planned, and executed in the month, Uh, in the month of Jan, 5th March. Because by April, uh, we have to deliver this course, uh, for different business functions because It gets, uh, it gets used in their annual appraisal, so to say.

Sure. So so it’s, uh, so we, A lot of things, uh, running right now. I mean, uh, annual seat type plus a lot of ad hoc studies, uh, because, I mean, in a company which is as big as Tata Motors, uh, I mean, so if you start from the process of, Uh, out sourcing materials for manufacturing to the client where it it where it gets integrated, then there is a quality testing, then it gets dispatched to the dealers. Then from the dealer that is shipped to the end customers, then the end customers start using the lasers, then obviously, there is requirement of spare parts. There is requirement of AMC.

Dhairya Shah: So a lot of business functions are, uh, are required to work seamlessly to ensure that the company is up and running. So, I mean, so you can imagine a lot of business problems also occurred. So, I mean, when I’m sitting in the canteen, having a cup of tea with my With my colleagues from sales or marketing or even from manufacturing, they all have problems. So they’re asking me what what can you do? So So I tell them, I mean, translating every business problem into research problem can be done, but the point is do you do you really want to do it?

Dhairya Shah: Because Some things, uh, are done by the people who are actually involved in the job rather than having an agency to, I mean, to do it. So yeah. So general day, a lot of discussion on briefs, uh, a lot of updates on where is my project, um, especially the CSAT project. Uh, sometimes a bit of travel. So the last 2 weeks, I was traveling, uh, for a study which which involved focus group discussions.

And then also January looks like a travel month because, again, I have a study which involves focus group discussions. And so yeah. And side by side, lot of, Uh, planning that happens with the agencies. And yeah. I mean, the major difference between an agency and a and a client role is that in the client role, I I also have to Sit with the business and spend maybe 50% of my time or maybe more, uh, talking to the business, understanding their challenges.

Dhairya Shah: Because, generally, the business challenges my sales are dropping in Maharashtra, but they are doing well in Gujarat. So they want to undertake a research to understand what is wrong in Maharashtra, uh, and what what learnings can be taken from the neighboring state of Gujarat To ensure that we go under the same level of sales in Maharashtra as well. Yeah. So lots of briefs, lots of discussions with the with my partners. Lots of time spent on decoding the reports so that they are useful to the business.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: It sounds like, uh, quite a busy day, to be honest. And you’ve already kind of, You know, I really wanted to understand what really the difference between an agency and a brand side is, but I think you’ve already kind of explained that. I would I would love to understand now that you’ve been on both the agency side and the brand side. I think you’ve seen research very holistically. What is it that, say, business partners or internal departments or stakeholders, what is the most common misunderstanding they have About research, what is the one misunderstanding that, you know, comes up at you in practically every second discussion that You feel that people outside the function don’t get.

Dhairya Shah: So I think I’ll I’ll name a couple of them at the The risk of sounding arrogant, but I think the the first thing is that they have a misunderstanding that One research project will answer all their problems in life. That is not possible because every research They

Ritu Soni Srivastava: give even started about their.

Dhairya Shah: Correct. So It’s like it’s like they want, uh, they they want a compendium which answers their, uh, life’s problems. So we’ll possibly, uh, in one research project. And I think 2nd 2nd is, uh, they don’t understand the nuances of, Research. So everyone has a everyone has a perspective.

Uh, so to, I mean, make them understand that Market research is not, uh, everyone cups of everyone, uh, cup of everyone’s cup of tea. And, uh, I mean, you need to understand that it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a job that requires skill. I mean, it is not that everyone can do it. So it’s a little hard to make them understand because everyone has their own ideas. And, uh, sales guy is being being pushy, so it’s very difficult to make them agree on a on a particular line of thought or a particular way of working.

So I’ll tell you a small example. So focus group discussions, everyone knows that it can’t be, Uh, it can’t be more than 7 to 8 in 1 focus group. Right? Because it becomes difficult for the moderator to to handle the to handle the people. But what happens is when I go to the center, what happens is, uh, suppose, uh, there is a focus group which has end customers.

So my sales team gets very emotional about their customers. Uh, so sometimes what happens is just to Please the customer them. Appease them. So Hey, Gram. So I tell them this is not parliament, and I have to make sure that so 7 to 8 people, not more than that.

It becomes a challenge, but, yeah, I think. So then it’s like then I follow the Buddha’s wisdom, which is like middle part. So I tell them, let us have 1 group. Maybe we can have 1 more group later.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Correct. Mhmm.

Dhairya Shah: So so it’s a typical operational problem, but for them, it becomes a it becomes a very I mean, they get very offended.

So they take it very I mean, that, uh, emotionally. But they don’t understand that it’s not feasible and viable for the moderator to have more than 8 I mean, how can he or she handle, like, 12 people sitting in a group?

No. It can turn very, very chaotic. No. I I totally get that, but, yeah, explaining it to non research folks, they’re like, discussion.

So someone I’m telling you this is this is this is a This is a real life, uh, incident that I had. So someone in the I so I I went to, uh, I mean, I I I won’t name the location because that will reveal the person’s identity. So I I went to a location where there was a activity supposed to happen, And he brought in, like I told I told him after and that we only need 7 to 8 customers informed well in advance over emails, over WhatsApp, over SMS, all possible modes of communication. And then he and then he brings in 15 customers. And then I tell him, boss, Yeah.

Dhairya Shah: Customer monitor Then he tells me, sir,

Ritu Soni Srivastava: speaker Yes. I come back.

Dhairya Shah: Right. So I told him parliament discussion and not all people speak together. So Okay. It’s difficult for the moderator to have, like so that was an amazing conversation that I had with him.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: The actual on ground operational challenges.

Dhairya Shah: Correct. With non research people.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: With non research people. Now this this sounds really funny, and it sounds very very like salespeople Yeah. To have this kind of conversation on ground. Correct. But tell me something, Darya.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: You you’ve now been in the industry, what, 10, 15 years? 15 years. Yeah. Yeah. And How have you seen the industry itself change?

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Um, from its earliest days where things were very manual, very service oriented, Today to where technology is incorporated in various aspects, have you really seen a lot of change in the industry, or is it still Very, very traditional manual service focused. What what is your gut feel?

Dhairya Shah: No. I’ll tell you. So, I mean, it’s more of an experience more than gut So when I started, uh, my job in, uh, Canada, I mean, then it was called IMRB, and it was Said that if you work with IIM RB, it’s like the University of market research in India. So you’re, like, a graduate from the research university in India. And In my days, typically, uh, I used to leave office at 10.

I used to leave office at 10. So it’s a 12 hour 12 hour job. So, Incidentally, we used to call IMRV either. So that that was the but I used to love it. I mean, because we were young, so no family, no obligation as as such.

Correct. So we used to just have a lot of discussion proposal. Basically, we’ll be, like, we used to a lot of. And, uh, so and it was a young team. So my my boss was, like, what, I think, 5, 6 years to me.

So we had a lot of fun, and work was work was never boring because every brief was different. And we had a we had a good team, and Friday fun was always there. So we used to go out almost every Friday for a dinner or whatever or a movie and then even even my boss used to come. So we never had that, uh, what should I say? That power distance.

Dhairya Shah: But, yeah, used to be taken seriously if if I mean, if he’s turn, he’s turn. I mean so Quality levels, I think, were better, and I’ll tell you the reason because during my time, uh, when I started my career, The interviewers, uh, in the field team, some of them or maybe most of them were, uh, were on payrolls of the research company. Okay. And the even the field supervisors the field was under our control. And and you see what happens is I mean, you are humans.

We are not robots. So when you’re on a payroll of a company, there is a certain loyalty, uh, to the company. So The quality of work automatically improves because you are associated with. So you think that are your data. What has happened is I think 90% of research companies or I I would say 95% of research companies, they don’t have their own field.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Correct.

Dhairya Shah: So the interviewers are, uh, more of mercenaries. So they are working for whosoever gives them more money. So, obviously, The quality of fieldwork will drop because then you are not loyal to a to a particular company. So it sounds great in, In definition and in theory that you are a freelancer, but, essentially, when you are a freelancer, you are a mercenary. So you work for anyone who pays you more.

So there is no there is no passion, I would say. Uh, the passion is missing, especially and in market research, I think the most critical element is, uh, field work because it’s garbage in garbage out.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: That is true.

Dhairya Shah: So that is why I think the general quality levels of, uh, data, uh, have dropped. That is that is my perspective. I might be wrong. And, also, from a professional perspective, also, I think, Uh, so I’m talking about the service side, which is the the research side. There also, I think, uh, I think I don’t know.

Maybe it’s a generational thing because I think every generation thinks that they are the smartest, and the the ratio that is coming is not that great. But I think the service levels have dropped. I think sincerity levels have dropped. So ownership has dropped. And, uh, I think even on the research side, what what is happening and because I I still have a lot of friends, uh, on the agency side.

The moment you cross 5 years of research experience in an agency, you are not supposed to do research. They put you on more of a business development role.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Correct.

Dhairya Shah: So I I mean, 5 years, you have just picked up picked up the Basics. Trade. Uh, I mean And then you have shifted into business development. So, obviously, the quality of report writing will also drop. Correct.

So I think When I was there, I I have seen even, uh, business heads, people with 15, 20 years of experience sitting with us, Uh, going to the report slide by slide. Editing the spelling, uh, spellings also. So at least I have been through that in my stand with IMRV and Nielsen. I don’t know, but, uh, I think with the current, uh, way of working, uh, the focus is more on getting business than, I mean, then adding quality Value. To the research.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: I think this is a sentiment, uh, that quite a few people across our podcast, you know, because we we’ve had a chance to speak with some very senior folks. And this is a consistent feedback that research used to be, as you said, it was a passion. It was conviction.

It was about searching for that human insight. Um, now it’s become very business as usual. It’s very cut to cut, very transactional. Correct. And I think that’s Really coming out in what you’re saying.

Have have you also seen any impact of technology on the actual research process itself? Has it changed things? Do you still feel technology is still to be fully implemented or integrated within the research process? What are your thoughts on that?

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. So, see, I have seen people telling me I’ve experienced, uh, because in my time, I have done PAPI, which is, uh, paper interview. So we used to on the field with paper and respondents the whole that was gone. Pencils. So fortunately, uh, in IMRV, we have we have this, uh, we have this Induction training called ECM, where we are supposed to go on field for 1 week, 2 weeks, and go over the interviews and see how the field work was done.

And during my time, I’ll tell you in Kantar, uh, if if there was a TG, uh, which was very, I mean, qualified and so to say professional. Then then it was a norm that the researcher will do the interview. It will not be outsourced. So I had to do the interview. I will come back.

Uh, I will listen to the recording. I’ll make notes and then prepare the report. So that is what I have done. So That, uh, I think is missing. Uh, and coming back to the point on technology.

Dhairya Shah: So, obviously, people have implemented technology. So they have been given tablets. They have done some geofencing. They can tell you, uh, that for how long the interview lasted, uh, basis. You can also You can also, uh, do, uh, checks on whether he’s just giving you, like, a straight line of other 5 plus kilo to 444 So that tells you that, uh, something is wrong.

But the problem is as you mentioned, uh, I mean, when we were, uh, chatting that the problem with Indians is we are Engineers in in a in a faulty way. So what technology So I have seen people who know They use multiple IP IPs and then they will I mean, I have caught I mean, not caught as in I’ve seen observed some raw data, then it was sent back to the agency that Something is fishy. So, I mean, technology is good. I mean, it it so for example, uh, I mean, it depends on what kind of research are you doing? So if it’s a quant research involving a sample of 10,000, and you have this geopencing technique and you are doing Tablets.

So location of exactly location All that is fine, but Still, Indians being ingenious, they they have ways to, uh, overcome that as well. But as opposed to, for example, Your company is the respondent is sitting in front of you. And so you have a certain software, and you are using technology to, Actually, the respondent is real. The feelings are real. So that is where technology, uh, actually improves the quality of research.

Dhairya Shah: Not so much in the in the other way, which people are thinking data So that needs to be, uh, I mean, that so it depends on the use case. So Yeah. But in general, obviously, with technology, things have improved. But as you said, there is a human element all I mean, there is always a human element to technology also. So if the human being which is using technology Always has a devious mind.

I mean, then it’s like an atom bomb. You can use it for energy or you can drop it on Hiroshima and other society. So it depends on what what is the intent.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: That is that is very true. I think the intent, as you very rightly said, has to be right, and then technology can be an enabler. But if somebody is out to play the system, then, you know, that’s there’s nothing technology also can do about it.

Dhairya Shah: Correct. Correct.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: No. Absolutely. So coming back to, um, you know, your work at Tata Motors, it’s it’s such is so well understood because it deals with end consumers. But when we talk about businesses like yours, which sell to, you know, wholesalers, distributors, people who buy large Vehicle. What would you say is, if you can talk about it, is one of the biggest problems, research problems that you’re trying to solve.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Could you talk a little bit more about what the business problem is and therefore, what your research problem is and how you’re going about attacking it?

Dhairya Shah: I think in in my industry, I mean, uh, so when I say my industry, I mean the commercial vehicles industry. If you look at, uh, the way it operates, there is a fleet owner. So the fleet owner will buy vehicles, uh, in in mass in large So we have retail vehicle owners as well. I mean, people who have, like, 1 vehicle, 2 vehicle, 3 vehicle. But I’m saying Broadly, the heavy commercial side operates in a way where there are more of fleet owners, and with things like GST coming in, It makes sense to have large fleets, and the the the small fleet owner is actually being gobbled up by the large fleet owners.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Sure.

Dhairya Shah: So, Then so I’ll just explain the explain you the value chain. There is a large fleet owner, and then the large fleet owner buys the vehicles And put puts it, uh, either for captive use, which is for his use. If he example, if he has his own industry or a factory, or he may be, Uh, enters into a contract with, say, I mean, whichever, uh, blue chip company you can think of, Asian Bean, Ritual, TNG, And the fleet is attached to their logistics, uh, department. Correct. And then they work with the the particular company on a annual contract basis and the monthly payouts and whatever the terms of the contract are.

Dhairya Shah: And because the fleet is large, he can’t ensure that he is monitoring all of those vehicles, uh, himself. So then there is a fleet manager. So he appoints fleet managers, uh, that the fleet manager will take care of the fleet, uh, in terms of maintenance, uh, in terms of if there is a breakdown, Uh, then the driver will call up the fleet manager, and the fleet manager will ensure that the, um, the vehicle gets fixed in the right time. So driver is very important in our in our industry because, uh, you can purchase 1,000 vehicles or even 1 lakh vehicle, but if you don’t have driver, the The vehicle will not run. So it’s like having a it’s having, like, having a gun, but no bullet.

Dhairya Shah: So So the driver is very important. And, unfortunately, or fortunately, because as India grows, uh, aspirations Grow a father does not want his son to be a driver. Okay. So Correct. That’s a real that’s a real challenge.

So in fact, there is a study which shows that, uh, in fact, India has about 40% less drivers than it should have In terms of the in terms of the as compared to the fleet size, uh, I mean, the vehicles on the road, uh, what we call vehicle park. So so the so the challenge in our industry is to ensure that Drivers, uh, are respected, uh, because I mean, you would have also traveled to I mean, Roads of Mumbai, and then, uh, the way 12 drivers are harassed by various, uh, authorities is, uh, is something that everyone knows. So, uh, driver is very important for us, uh, for the industry. So, uh, the vehicle also has to adapt in that way because The driver has to be comfortable in driving in driving the vehicle. In fact, there are drivers which say vehicle because So drivers are a are a key influencer in the purchase decision of, uh, of the owner.

But the thing is that, uh, drivers are difficult to reach because, a, they’re always on the move. Uh, so if I want to do any research, uh, with drivers, it becomes challenging because, uh, the agency can meet them only when they are resting. And, obviously, When they are resting, they don’t want to be disturbed because they already had, like, a night shift, so they don’t want to be disturbed. So, uh, that that is That is one challenge that, uh, so technology is not helping me here because the driver is not very conversant with technology. He can do he can do maybe a WhatsApp or Maybe launch a YouTube, uh, channel on his phone.

Dhairya Shah: So they know how to use smartphones. They they use a lot of YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp. But if I tell them to fill up a questionnaire using online means it’s it’s not possible. So that’s a big challenge that I face, uh, for my drivers also, one of my fleet managers also. Because the fleet manager, The schedule is such that, uh, they work almost 24 hours a day because the vehicle can break down at any time.

So, essentially, They don’t have a they have specified, uh, rest days. I mean, when they can take holidays, weekly, but the phones are always ringing. So So I have been trying over the last few years to, uh, in I mean, to use technology in some way to reach them.

I’ve but I’ve not been very successful because, uh, I also thought of maybe having a panel of drivers, uh, maybe having a panel of fleet Managers, I propose this to propose this to various agencies also, uh, but, uh, I think it’s difficult for them also to manage the panel. Correct. That is one problem which is access to the t g, uh, that is important for us. But The second problem is the speed of, uh, research. I mean so, typically, if you see, if I if I give up RFQ to any of the large agencies, they will take typical Typically, they will take about 10 days to revert back with the proposal. I mean, forget the re forget the report.

Dhairya Shah: And in in my case, what happens is my sales team tells me product launch customer What initial fillers are you getting? So speed of research is something that I’ve been trying to improve, but, Uh, the way it is done right now, the the process the processes which are there right now, I don’t think with that Process, uh, I can do a a research in 7 days or, say, 10 days. So, Again, it come boils down to the channel number 1, which is ease of access. Because I can’t do even telephonic interviews with drivers and, Uh, customers because they don’t have time. So

They have to be engaged face to face only because I have tried this in COVID. Correct. When COVID happened, it gave me a chance to Get into the online mode. Try telephonic interviews. And we did that. Right.

But online, the email, Refusal rate anyways, I think, is upward to 90%. And in my case, it was, like, 99.99%. So email

Ritu Soni Srivastava: they will Not you have drivers using email as just

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. Yeah.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Next to a person.

Dhairya Shah: Possible. Fleet managers do have emails. Owners do have emails. But, again, They don’t have time to do this email email, Gmail thing. And then, uh, telephonic calls again, attention span is, like, 5 minutes.

Dhairya Shah: So I can’t delve into much. 5 minutes may I mean, generally, you can only have, like, yes, no questions. Correct. I think a yes, no question is fine for some studies, But if you want to, uh, the sales team always has, like, 5 whys, why, why, why. That 5 whys can’t be answered in a 5 minute telephonic interview.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: No. You need at least half an hour to get build a rapport and really start probing.

Dhairya Shah: Correct. Correct. So these 2 challenges remain, which is ease of access So the t g that I want to go to. And 2nd is the turnaround time, which is again dependent on the challenge number 1. So these are the 2 biggest challenges.

Dhairya Shah: So anyone listening to this podcast can approach me if they have if they have a solution.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Because the 1st call will be from us. Yeah. But it’s a very interesting, uh, because you’re dealing with literally the lifeline of trade in India. Right? Correct.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: And these drivers are the ones who power that lifeline. But they are so difficult to access both in terms of access to technology, access and comfort with language and ability to express themselves.

Dhairya Shah: Correct.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: It’s just I I’ll such large, quote ticket decisions rest on these research objectives But I can I can totally understand? It must be very, very stressful to be in your position.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Yeah. Awesome. No. I think I think that’s what was wonderful. Um, I’m I know we’re a little bit out of time. But I would love to ask you 1 final question to wrap up our discussion, which is you’ve now been on the agency side. You’ve been on the brand side.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: You’ve spent, you know, a decade plus in this industry. What are the 3 tips that or maybe even 2 tips that you would like to give Market research leaders like yourself, uh, basis your experience on how to deepen their insights. Any tips, tricks, thoughts that you’ve picked up that you feel should be implemented in the work, um, of every market research leader?

Dhairya Shah: I think I’m assuming you’re referring to the market research detail on the agency side. Right?

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Agency side, consumer side, whichever you would like to Yeah. Yeah. Address.

Dhairya Shah: So I think for the agency side, uh, leadership, I would say that I think they should consider hiring people, uh, with the client side background Because they will bring in a lot of business perspective. See, what what happens is when I was in IMRV, I used to give Recommendations, uh, this is the report or the data or the interaction that I used to have with the the respondents. And now when I look back, I I myself laugh on those recommendations Because on the when I when you’re on the other side, you realize that it is not feasible to have such recommendations because you don’t know the workings of The category, you don’t know the workings of the organization. For example, if someone’s someone tells I’ll give you a small small example That this is a product, and someone says, using a quant study, that, yeah, for that make a feature. 60% of the people say that this feature is, Not required or this feature has to be modified to, uh, to do this.

Dhairya Shah: And then you put that in the recommendation. The problem is in a manufacturing company, uh, this small recommendation looks very easy on the paper, but it has a 3 year cycle Because it it will go to the plant, the ERC will sit on it or, I mean, who’s will be the responsible party in that particular organization. Whether it’s technically feasible or not, a lot of analysis goes into that. The dye has to change because I mean, so it’s a 3 year process. The 3 year matters, I mean, so you have to give solutions which are, like, more doable in the short term and in the medium term.

Dhairya Shah: So hiring people from a business background on the agency side will really help in, uh, understanding, uh, the problems that the client faces. And accordingly, you, Uh, Modify the research process also. I mean, then you focus more on the things that are more, Uh, easily doable. I mean, rather than focusing on things that you know will take 3 years. So the research process, the research questionnaire, the Discussion guide, what’s I mean, whatever you want to call it can be modified to focus more on the easily doable things Rather than those 3 year, uh, I mean, product changes

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Because they never get taken up anyway.

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. Yeah. Because anyways, it takes 5 years, years to bring a product, and then you So it’s it’s a little difficult.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Oh, I can I can totally understand?

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. So in your case also, for example, I do You will say coding So it becomes very So even so I have to filter out those recommendations even while I send the report to my business team internally because then they will laugh on me. So that is the thing.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: No. I think that makes a lot of sense. I think the sensitivity to actual business processes And how companies run, uh, especially for, I think, younger folks in the agency spaces because they haven’t worked in an actual business. They don’t know how the actual process is run. Yeah.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: No. I think that’s that’s very good advice.

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. Yeah. Correct. So that is for the, I mean, leaders on the agency side. On the brand side, I think number 1, uh, advice to all The people, I mean, who aspire to be market research professionals is, please first join the agency.

I mean, that is You have to be you have to be in the so called, uh, what should I say? When there is a war out there, the frontline soldier has the Has the experience, uh, that matters the most I mean, the general will be sitting there and making some more strategy, but you have to We are the frontline to understand, uh, how does research work. So first, join the agency, understand operations field, go to the field, Understand how do respondents behave, how do respondents, uh, react to a particular question. See, what happens is, When you ask a respondent any question, I mean, this I have observed over the last 15 years of doing research. The first thing is that he or she will rationalize.

Dhairya Shah: So, even if you ask him or her 5 why’s, he will rationalize he or she. So, The emotional aspect is something that will not come when you ask questions. You have to observe the respondent. You have to maybe use AI to understand whether by facial expression Maybe he or she is smiling, but internally, I think something is wrong. Or maybe he is smiling because he is maybe Recorrecting a joke that was said, like, 1 year ago. So who knows? So do. So that is that is why I learned the tricks of the trade. You join the agency first and then go to the client side because SINUVA, you have to essentially get the work done through agencies. But for that to happen, uh, and for you Sound smart in front of the agency.

You should know how actually the agency works and how the respondents, uh, react to a particular question. So I have seen people who straight away join join the client side and then agency.

Dhairya Shah: Correct. So so for the thing that takes maybe 1 hour, he’ll say And he will agree also because he does not even know. He actually So this is what I think I would advise. So And, also, second is, uh, only join, uh, if you have passion for this work. Otherwise, there’s no point.

I mean, you really should have the passion to understand the consumer, uh, understand Why he or she makes a makes a decision? Because I always tell, uh, my team, whenever report someone says Obviously, I can’t tell him in front of the audience, in front of 10, 15 people. But then I Take him out, and then I tell him, boss, if you have heard about, uh, the great, uh, David Ogilvy, he said, is not a moron. She’s a wife. So so maybe your wife also Reacts in such way, but she has a particular rationale.

Dhairya Shah: So you have to think over it. It does not that consume So he knows he was really kind of important. Uh, it’s like me telling you how to run a light bulb. It’s not fair now. You will know better than me.

So That that is why the response from the consumer or the customer might not, uh, be in convergence of what you might think, But you have to take it with a pinch of salt and delve into it via Qumebl, vice versa.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Correct. I think this this respect for the consumer obviously has to be at the heart of every research because there is a reason you are going to the consumer for your answers. Correct. And if you’re not willing to listen to those answers in the Spirit in which they are provided, then that defeats the purpose of the research. But I think that was beautifully articulated.

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. And I also tell them that consumer or the customer is looking for a solution. He or she is not looking for a product. I mean, you understand the difference?

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Correct.

Dhairya Shah: I mean, there is a difference. Product solution So If the product is able to deliver the solution with least amount of effort and maybe with within the budget, then it it is fit for him. You might say, Ara, he is illogical, but For him, it does not.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: He has a problem that needs solving. Your product may or may not solve that problem. Correct. And that is the difference I think that, Uh, most salespeople don’t really want to understand because their agenda is to sell that product.

Dhairya Shah: Yeah. So it’s like finding customers, uh, for your product rather than making the product for your customers.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Correct. Correct. Which is at the heart of any any business process. I think Exactly. Believe that.

Dhairya Shah: Right.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Awesome. Awesome. This was beautiful, Daria. Um, it was so lovely to have a chance to chat with you and to tap into your insight and your experience. Thank you so much for taking time out to be on Yureka.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: Uh, we look forward to many more such conversations, but thank you again for taking the time out today.

Dhairya Shah: Thanks, Itu. It was wonderful conversing, and, uh, I just hope, uh, that, uh, people listening to this podcast can help me with My problems.

Ritu Soni Srivastava: I’m sure you will get your answer very, very quickly. We will definitely put the word out. Thank you again for all your time and support. It was a pleasure.

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