Consumer insights via Slack

Agency Juliet worked with Milestones to message consumers on an ongoing basis, using those findings to shape a new platform.


This story appears in the January/February issue of strategy.

Like most ad agencies, Toronto’s Juliet has spent a lot of time leading focus groups. “[But] it’s an onerous process, it’s an expensive process,” says the agency’s senior strategist Kaiti Snell.

For that reason, Juliet created Real Talk – a research platform that looks for strategic insights by getting consumer feedback on an ongoing basis via messaging platform Slack. The shop has used Real Talk for work on Peoples Jewellers, Roots, Wholly Veggie, FreshCo and Coca-Cola. And most recently, it helped shape a new platform for Recipe Unlimited’s Milestones Grill + Bar.

Traditional research can help the chain understand the changing food industry, says Jimmy duDomaine, director of marketing at Milestones, but Real Talk allowed the brand to “develop stronger, more relevant creative that our guests contributed to directly.”

Juliet works with casting agent Shasta Lutz to cast groups of six to ten people, based on a specific brand challenge. They might be obsessive bargain-hunters or eco-conscious fashionistas, for example. The agency communicates with panelists frequently and openly through Slack for weeks, testing creative concepts on-the-go and returning to the group three or four times during development. Participants respond from their home and are in constant communication, which leads to greater trust, openness and richer insights for brands, adds Snell.

Research showed that Milestones customers viewed the brand as “good” and “safe,” but not highly differentiated. Real Talk enabled the team to delve deeper into what drives millennials to pick a spot to eat, ultimately revealing that many appreciate the simple things in life, such as a reliable restaurant – despite expressing themselves as individuals who like to experiment. “My friends have a lot going on these days. It’s hard planning a day to meet, so I’d rather choose somewhere I know is good,” said one person on the panel.

The process helped Milestones discover that being a reliable and uncomplicated restaurant offers a certain respite to maturing millennials, eventually launching an online and OOH campaign that plays off of the simple pleasures of dining out – such as a casual happy hour with friends or a favourite meal that’s consistent every time.