Mars is creating an internal incubator unit, known as the New Venture Studio, to make sure it stays relevant and innovative in the way it creates and launches brands.


Anna Kouzoleva, Mars EU digital brand and innovation leader, while commenting said; “It’s an internal incubator to make sure that we’re agile in the way that we’re launching brands or new initiatives, and that it’s not done in an old school manner. We have a test and learn approach to everything.”


The launch comes after the success of the company’s Launchpad open innovation platform, established in 2017, which allows all brand managers within the Mars group to submit a business case for testing and evaluation.


These challenges – typically in marketing or supply chain areas of the business – are submitted as briefs to a relevant expert, who matches them to suitable external resources including startups and specialist agencies. Mars works with agency Mediacom and accelerator Plug and Play to identify appropriate startups.


Over the past two years, Launchpad has led to 46 pilot schemes with startup companies around the world. Ten of the pilots have led to scalable outcomes.



“This means we have tested, learnt and our ROI has been positive, meaning that we can actually scale this across different brands and markets,” Kouzoleva added.

“Although this may not mean a positive ROI for every single brand that takes on these learnings, what it does mean is that it’s a working programme and we’re willing to spend bigger budgets after the test and learn is completed.”


The findings of every Launchpad project are shared throughout the company, and are available for staff to study online. More than 1,500 Mars staff have been involved in the Launchpad process to-date and 250 startup partners have been sourced.


The company calculates that the project has generated more than $150m (£116m) in value in terms of insight from the test and learn process.


Projects have included a big piece of social data research with data-driven insights company Whispr, search behaviour targeting with search intelligence firm Captify and opinion collection and re-targeting with research specialist Opinary.


Furthermore, Mars has also collaborated with retailers including Walmart and Carrefour on projects to explore gifting and ‘retail-tainment’ business cases. Issues such as identifying customers more accurately, predicting future trends and anticipating stocking level problems are among the challenges tackled, the statement reads.