A little bit about us

#15 on the list of most innovative global
research companies

We partner with our clients to pilot and deploy innovative new solutions to uncover insight that drives growth and long-term brand equity.

15 of the top 20 global advertisers work with

Global organizations use our platform because it allows them to harness insights to create growth, but also ensure that every touch point is consistently reinforcing their brand promise.

17 years, 25 countries,60 HotStaff

We’ve come a long way in our 17 year history. We are now helping brands crack growth challenges in over 25 countries. We have 60+ amazing members of our Hotspex family, but you’ll learn more about them in our People section.

Our Platform

Growth through Segmenting & Targeting

How do I create segments that go beyond traditional needs states by identifying functional and emotional drivers of behaviour and ensure that my organization understands these consumer segments in their activation?

Growth through Brand Strategy

What are the functional, emotional, and personality attributes that will optimize my brand’s growth in a globally scalable way? How can I align my brand architecture and brand assets to support optimal growth?

Growth through Remarkable Ideas and Brand Activation

How do I identify and prioritize new consumer and communication targets, product innovations, and in-store activations earlier in the creative process to save non-productive marketing dollars and get these ideas into market sooner?


Growth of Brand Equity through Relentless Consistent Touch Points

How can we align all of our internal stakeholders and external agencies to consistent brand execution across omni-channel touch points, so that we build brand equity while growing our business?

Tell us about your challenge

What makes us different

  1. We help you empathize with your consumer on a much deeper level.
  2. We can dissect your brand and its assets to really understand what is driving or inhibiting growth.
  3. We help you earlier in the creative or design process to improve and fast track remarkable ideas.
  4. We engage your internal stakeholders and external agencies on learning journeys that go beyond testing and validation.
  5. We help you, your marketers, and your agencies ensure that every new idea or touch point is consistently executed against your brand promise.

Depth. Granularity. Specificity. Sensitivity…

Smart Decisions. Grow your Business. Build Long-Term Brand Equity.

Need to find out how to turn your brand around?

Changing your packaging? Have you identified your iconic assets?

What if you could identify remarkable ideas well before production?

Who's thinking long-term for your brand?

Tell us about your challenge


"I really think what you do with emotion is unique. Other companies say they measure emotions, but they only touch on it. They don’t have a deep understanding of emotions and what to do about it like Hotspex does."

Insights Director, Leading Global CPG company

The Team

We call our family of 60+ amazing people our HotStaff.

We asked our HotStaff for the top 3 reasons they work here:

  1. You get to work with TOP global brand and work on really cool projects
  2. Incredible opportunity to grow and develop – we work hard
  3. We are a family and we have lots of fun (in a kind of nerdy way)
Alexandra Frankel

Alexandra Frankel

VP, Cognitive Media Targeting
Joe Spencer

Joe Spencer

VP Innovation & Research Solutions
Luke Austin

Luke Austin

SVP Research, North America
Aron Galonsky

Aron Galonsky

Managing Director, USA
Jonathan La Greca

Jonathan La Greca

VP Strategic Growth & Innovation
Shane Skillen

Shane Skillen

Ashley Robson

Ashley Robson

VP Research
Kamala Allsop

Kamala Allsop

Michael Dorr

Michael Dorr

SVP Research
Gera Nevolovich

Gera Nevolovich

SVP Growth, Sales & Marketing
Kristina Dadswell

Kristina Dadswell

VP Research
Toby Pilling

Toby Pilling

VP Technology
Average # of cups of coffee our staff consumes a day
Projected # of studies we'll deliver this year
# of countries we've conducted studies for this year
# of years Hotspex has been around!

Recent News

“See more of our thought leadership…”



Learnings from The Gathering Conference

Author: Shane Skillen
CEO, Hotspex


The key learnings for me were:

  1. Brands need a purpose as their North Star. This aligns all activity and engages the organization to a prime objective. Things that feel off brand don’t get done. Gatorade lost it’s way when it focused on Thirsty instead of Making Athletes Win From Within. The renewed focused resulted in phoenix like recovery of the Gatorade brand. Purpose is everything. From there a promise to consumers can be created that is a consistent promise to make feel a certain set of emotions. Apple are the masters of this. Surprise, Joy Connenction and Love. Every touchpoint. Every time. From there stories related to that purpose and promise can be created as proof points.
  2. The competitive set is not what you think. It’s share of mind. If people are thinking about something else in your category then they aren’t thinking about your brand. The competitive set of Gatorade isn’t just Powerade and Friends. It’s also Nike, Underarmour. For Coke it’s not just other cold beverages. It’s coffee too. Anything near a brand can steal your share of mental availability.
  3. Brands need to be coherent and consistent. Jack Daniel’s and the highly performing share price it is largely responsible for driving are based a years of history and a consistent brand message. The ads, packages, and even conference presentations are all coherent to the same emotional feeling. A feeling of understatement. Of being the unsung hero. The bottles, the ads, the labels the stories. They all make feel the same way and the brand is very distinct and powerful.
  4. Celebrity advocates are extremely powerful. Maybe now more than ever given all the clutter in the media landscape and the lack of attention people pay to anything for any amount of time. Beats By Dre leveraged the talent relationships of Jimmy Ioves and Dr. Dre to show stars, athletes and all kinds of celebrities wearing the products in a genuine, authentic way. This resulted in irrational demand for Beats products in a ultra cluttered environment. It as so effective they sold it to Apple for over $3 billion after a few short years in existence. Wow. It needs to be authentic … Dre couldn’t do sneakers, he needed to do speakers.
  5. It’s not going to get any easier. Marketers are struggling to connect with people. They are struggling with the right metrics to track performance. CMOs are looking at shorter and shorter tenures and fuzzy success metrics which measure their performance. You have to bring it every day. Even if you are leading that can change very very quickly.
  6. Be social or consider yourself anti-social. All brands are doing this in different ways for different reasons. Metrics are fuzzy yet emerging. The different platforms have different use cases. Lean on Google, Snap, FB for creative ways to make things happen. I.E. write briefs like “We want to increase TOM 15% of those exposed” “We want to have 10% of people to deeply understand our brand promise/emotion”.

Top 10 Insights from Top CMOs – LIVE from The Gathering, Banff 2018

Author: Jonathan La Greca
VP Strategic Growth, Hotspex


For those of you that haven’t been to the Gathering marketing conference, add it to your bucket list. It’s the Coachella of the marketing world and brings together some of the bravest and most inspiring CMOs from leadership brands in the purely magical settings of the mountains of Banff, Alberta.

In addition to hearing an incredible keynote by Brené Brown, I had the pleasure of meeting some incredible CMOs and senior leaders from successful brands including Keurig, Jack Daniels, Gatorade, Vans, Beats By Dre, Snickers, and PlayStation!

Here are some of the lessons I would like to share back with you…

Read More

Will We Survive the Rapidly Changing Insights Industry? (IIeX Amsterdam ’18)

Author: Jonathan La Greca
VP Strategic Growth, Hotspex

Highlights from 2018 Insight Innovation Exchange in Amsterdam

With our industry’s brand tracker – the Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) survey of the most innovative companies – on its way, Hotspex had the pleasure of presenting how we use behavioural science and deep machine learning to improve reach quality and media efficiency at this year’s Insight Innovation Exchange in Amsterdam.

Read More

GRIT: Hotspex On Track to Once Again Be Among Top GRIT Global Innovators Through Breakthrough Google Integration

Author: Shane Skillen
CEO, Hotspex


The Challenge

We interviewed several CMOs to understand what’s keeping them up at night. It was clear that there was an inordinate amount of pressure on CMOs to demonstrate impact and return on their marketing activity.

So much so that, in some cases, the role of CMO has been renovated and repositioned to Chief Growth Officer. With $1 trillion spent globally in advertising, the biggest opportunity for CMOs to have impact is to ensure that their media investments are most efficiently building brands and driving purchase intent.

Our Solution

Hotspex worked with Google to integrate Hotspex’s emotional and behavioral science with Google’s Deep Learning Knowledge Graph to target advertising based on context to serve people the right ads at the right time.

The hypothesis was that when ads are aligned with the content in which they run, viewers will be more engaged and less annoyed, leading to better viewing experiences (less annoying) and increased ROI on advertising.

Hotspex and Google ran an extensive A/B pilot test with over 1 billion impressions on YouTube Video across 5 leading global brands to test this hypothesis.

The Impact

Overall, this approach increased media effectiveness by at least 10% in each of the 7 pilots. This included average skip rate dropping by 18%, Click Through Rate increasing by 18%, Brand Lift increasing 65% and Purchase Intent growing 71%.

Several of the clients from our pilots suggested that the results were “explosive” and  media buyers have called Hotspex Cognitive Media Targeting the “future of advertising”.

What About Your Brand?

If you’d like to learn more about how this technology could improve your reach quality, Hotspex would be happy to set up a demo and show you how this technology could provide you with a high-quality targeting package that goes beyond brand safety and creates brand opportunity.

Reach out to us at brandbuilders@hotspex.com.


February 7 – 8, London UK
by Michael Dorr, Managing Director – Hotspex UK

The world of retail is rapidly changing.  Shoppers are adopting new channels (e.g. online, click & collect), new payment methods (e.g. AliPay) plus a myriad of new product/brand innovations. This year’s Executing Shopper Insights conference explored the impact of these changes, specifically…

  • How is shopping behaviour changing?
  • How is this affecting consumers’ attitudes toward retailers & brands?
  • How can we find meaningful insight through the latest methods / thinking?

Some of my personal highlights from this year’s conference….


Among this year’s roster of speakers was Hannah Jackson from The Body Shop. Hannah spoke about the Body Shop’s strong brand affinity in China (despite having no physical presence in China). To tap into this in the UK, The Body Shop UK has trialed promotions that use Alipay (a leading mobile payment, social networking app). This highly successful campaign engaged Chinese consumers visiting the UK during peak holiday periods (including Chinese New Year and Golden Week).

This example highlights the massive impact that mobile has had on retail, generating boundless (and geographic boundary-less) opportunity for brand and retailers. Currently China leads the way, with mobile payments 50X higher than US (2017).  Adoption of platforms like Alipay and WeChat Wallet are expected only to grow in the future. Shopper Insights professionals must anticipate this shift (as well the onslaught of new data & metrics that will come along with it).

Another example of change, is the growth in Click & Collect. At the conference, we heard from Darren Smith from TJX Europe who shared an interesting side-effect of TJX’s Click & Collect program – it’s driving more in-store activity.  Apparently, shoppers cannot resist the urge to pop in and browse (after picking up their click & collect items). This is a great reminder to researchers: avoid narrowly viewing shoppers by channel (e.g. in-store shoppers vs. online shoppers vs. click & collect shoppers) – they are often the same person.


Another theme was the over-abundance of choice that shoppers face today.  In response, we have developed shortcuts as a way of coping with so much choice. Shoppers use a process of ‘down selecting’ or ‘de-selecting’, i.e. a nonconscious technique to identify and discard products/brands/packages that are not relevant. This helps us understand the auto-pilot behaviour frequently observed among shoppers (i.e. ~80% of grocery shopping is done in auto-pilot mode).

In an interesting case study by Premier Foods (presented by Emma Tappin), it was observed that the more time a shopper navigates a shelf, the fewer items that they notice at shelf. Why? When shoppers are searching for an item, they are employing a process of elimination (i.e. de-selection) as a way of helping them navigate.

And now, given the growth in online retail, shoppers are facing even more choice. Brands like Amazon are tapping into shoppers’ desire to simplify their lives (and their shopping needs) by offering automatic top-ups. Given this new reality, how can new brands (or smaller competing brands) get on shoppers’ radar? We need to ensure that we’re evaluating all new product ideas in a shopping context (to account for the behaviours outlined above). New ideas fail in market, often because they neglected to understand shoppers’ actual behaviours. In life, and in research, context is key.


Several speakers provided some inspiring ideas of how to engage shoppers. Some that stood out:

  • Starbucks Roastery: this concept store takes Starbucks shoppers to the next level. Going beyond just selling coffee and beans, this retail environment offers a multi-sensory and educational experience. Click here more info.
  • The Monkey 47 Winter Lodge: this pop-up lounge in the heart of London (at the Rosewood Hotel) showcases Pernod Ricard’s brands, namely Monkey 47 gin. This beautiful winter retreat (heated seats, faux fur, cottage-like décor, etc.) is a subtle but effective vehicle for Pernod Ricard brands.


The most interesting part of the conference, for me, was the discussion on principles and philosophies informing the latest in Shopper Insights research.  From Byron Sharp’s How Brands Grow, Kahneman’s Thinking Fast & Slow, Behavioural Economics / Nudge Theory and more.  From this wealth of thinking, we know that shopping behaviour is highly subconscious; thus, our research methods must measure shoppers’ implicit attitudes while also observing in-situation behaviours.

At Hotspex, these are cornerstone principles that inform how we evaluate brand, packaging, distinctive assets, and more.   If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out to request a Hotspex Lunch & Learn on Shopper Based Design, Packaging Research and/or Measuring Distinctive Brand Assets (email us at info@hotspex.com).  Thanks again to speakers and organizers of the Executing Shopper Insights conference.  We will see you again in 2019!!

What’s Keeping CMOs Up At Night?

Live at The Quirk’s Event in Brooklyn NY, February 28, 2018

With CMO tenure shrinkage a near constant, what does the future of the marketing function hold?

  • Will the CMO go extinct, being replaced by Chief Growth Officers?
  • What is the impact of this on the long-term brand building?
  • The impact on the career trajectories for marketers?
  • What does all this mean for the insights business?
  • How do current CMOs want their insights served up?
  • How will the requirements for successful insights leaders change in the coming years? Where are the emergent opportunities in insights going to reveal themselves?

Shane has had the privilege to interview many sitting and recently departed CMOs to find answers to these questions. Shane will give a provocative talk that will help all stakeholders of the insights industry understand what the future holds.


  1. The future of marketing straight from the CMOs’ lips. 
  2. What is keeping CMOs up at night that insights professionals can help with. 
  3. How CMOs are looking for insights professionals to evolve in the future. 

Presented by Hotspex CEO Shane Skillen. If you are unable to attend but would like to schedule a lunch and learn about this topic, please reach out to us at brandbuilders@hotspex.com

Contact Us

  •  To contact us at our North America Head Office:
    40 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 801
    Toronto , Ontario M4P 3A2 Canada
  • Main: +1.416.487.5439
    Toll Free: 1.855.586.6531

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