ZX Ventures: Tracking tastes in innovation

Kendra Kuppin, director of incubation for Europe at the company’s ZX Ventures, is tasked with analysing a brand’s potential at the earliest stage of the development process. She wanted to understand whether Mike’s Hard Seltzer – a popular brand in the US – would resonate with UK drinkers.

Under normal circumstances, her team would head out into stores, engage in sampling drives and gain extensive customer feedback. That proved impossible when lockdown measures were imposed.

“It was hard to do a lot of the testing and learning in the lockdown environment,” says Kuppin. “We had to really manoeuvre our tactics and be quick to change how we gather those learnings. We built a direct-to-consumer website in order to get that feedback.

“A lot of people had to build direct-to-consumer websites to stay alive through sales [during the pandemic]. For us, we needed to build it to stay alive because our goal is testing and learning. It’s not an immediate sales channel. It’s a learning channel. To have that consumer touchpoint was so important.”

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