Nestlé's recycling immersion through chatbot moderation experiment

Nestlé by InSites Consulting

Including chatbots in qualitative research brings faster and better insights, as it allows a human moderator to focus on value-adding tasks.


The challenge

Nestlé Australia, the world’s largest food producer, wanted to immerse into people’s recycling attitudes and habits, to discover opportunities to better support consumers in this area. Nestlé wanted to go beyond what people are saying, and observe what they are doing in-moment. This led to an experiment with in-context automation, a test of whether chatbots could get to better and faster insights.


Our solution

An A/B experiment was set up with two ad hoc Squares, each lasting two weeks and counting 60 members with similar profiles. Tasks ranged from open-discussion topics to ethnographic diaries – consumers went on recycling missions, uploaded videos and completed surveys, to give us a 360° view on their habits and needs. The difference between the two Squares: one was moderated by a human, the other by a chatbot.

The impact

The experiment showed that bots will play an important role in future research, especially in repetitive tasks (e.g. diary exercises) and engagement moderation. Participants accept them as moderator (if positioned correctly), and the bots deliver a never-seen-before scale to qualitative research. However, the power is in the mix: humans (today) are still better at digging deeper, understanding emotions and getting qualitative insights. With a bot on their side, they can do so faster and cheaper, as part of the human tasks can be outsourced.

Nestlé discovered a range of fresh recycling insights which showed the say-do gap: people don’t recycle as well as they believe they do, and focus merely on waste recycling as there is little emphasis on reusing and reducing.

This experiment obtained the Best Paper Award at the Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS) National Conference in 2019.

“We enjoyed working with InSites Consulting; they helped us push the boundaries of what marketing research can do, by pioneering new methodologies to get the job done more efficiently and effectively”

Rashna Shroff, Corporate Programs & Sponsorship Manager, Nestlé Australia

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