WE’VE INTRODUCED INNOVATION TO MARS
Technology is changing the way brands reach consumers – how they shop, interact with and purchase products.
The speed of change is a big issue. Mars has a scientific and evidence-based culture that makes it hard to create the agile, experimental culture required.
Our approach has helped Mars solve that problem, access multiple new technologies and started to infuse the company with a more entrepreneurial approach.
We’ve done this by creating a new model for technology innovation. Our model is designed to match Mars culture, making agility feel natural rather than an out-of-body experience.
The result is that Mars is now uniquely placed to bring in new technologies and solve key business issues.
To do this we identified four key principles:
First, we needed to be as scientific as the Mars culture. Our process needed to be rigorous and earn respect across the $35bn business. We would pilot with small budgets and in individual markets before adapting and rolling out.
Second, we needed to allow for a culture of failure – not every project would succeed. Pilots would be carefully monitored to create lessons for the future.
Third, we needed to be global. Not all innovation happens in Silicon Valley. Our global network would find the right start-ups wherever they originated, building a database of potential partners that could be applied to current and future challenges.
Finally, we needed to work with directly with marketing teams around the world, rather than in an “innovation” silo. In keeping with the Mars culture, this would ensure that our efforts would be directly beneficial to the business, building support for the initiative.
BESPOKE INNOVATION IN TUNE WITH THE MARS CULTURE
We started Launchpad in March 2017. Promoted heavily across the global Mars marketing network, we invited the entire community – as individuals or teams – to participate and send us their challenges.
Together with Mars, we built a five-step process:
1) Submit your business and marketing challenges.
2) Working with Mars segment leads, we helped select the briefs with the biggest business impact and the potential to scale.
3) We put the briefs with the greatest value to pilot – using our links into the start-up community to find the right partners.
4) We would test, evaluate our shortlisted partners on their ability to address the brief before selecting the right partner.
5) Post-pilot, successful projects would be scaled across the business.
We now have a dedicated team of five people , with customised agile processes and structures designed to go from brief to pilot in under six weeks.
WE LAUNCHED LIKE A ROCKET...
We received 85 detailed briefs from around the world in just nine months.
We have plans for 15 pilots, six of which had gone live as of January. These include AI-powered research into the latest food trends, a voice-powered healthy eating assistant, a chatbot that helps improve pet fitness (and sell related product), new smarter segmentation technologies and a mood-based message targeting system.
These are running not just in advanced markets such as Australia, the UK and the US but also in key growth countries including Mexico and Russia.
More than 650 Mars marketing leaders have been personally briefed on the Launchpad programme, ensuring that teams from more than 30 markets now understand how we can help.
We have showcased more than 50 start-ups to Mars, ready for future challenges.
In 2018, Launchpad will expand to involve more markets and successful pilots will be scaled across the business.
Launchpad has changed the culture at Mars, moving teams from process-driven to innovation-inspired and infused a culture of experimentation across the business.