Vero Meets #5: Thach Quang Nguyen, Data & Insights Team Lead | English Interview


Vero Meets #5: Thach Quang Nguyen, Data & Insights Team Lead | English Interview

A photo of Thach Quang Nguyen, who is a Vietnamese man who wears glasses, has short dark hair and is smiling. Thach is wearing a white shirt with blue tie. The photo has text, which says, Vero Meets: Thach Quang Nguyen, Data Insights Lead

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Vero Meets is a new series where we talk to people who are doing interesting things in branding, communications, and marketing. Following the announcement of Vero’s two new hires, we had a very interesting conversation with Thach Quang Nguyen, Data Insights Team Lead at Vero on his new role and industry insights.

Hi Thach. Can you share a bit about yourself?

Hi Vero, my name is Quang Thach. I am based in Ho Chi Minh City and have been in the research industry for about six years, specializing in market research, data analytics, and consumer insights. My previous role as Market and Consumer Insights Analyst at global conglomerate Unilever, where I had an opportunity to grow and learn. It’s time for me to take on a new challenge and build something for myself.

What did you do as a Market and Consumer Insights Analyst at Unilever?

My tasks involved market research and brand consultation, and my clients came from different departments like PR, Marketing, or Crisis Management. They came to me with their problems, and I provided them with a solution. 

What is the challenge in brand consultation and how can you help clients?

Brand consultation is like a health check, where clients call out their problems and express their needs to the consultant. But the biggest challenge is that most clients do not have a background in data analytics, so they struggle to express their needs and concerns. And presenting terminology or methodology only causes further confusion. So, I listen and try to connect the dots for a bigger picture, I translate the old brief into a research language. Then I come to clients and ensure that we are on the same page. Communication is the key to brand consultation, using a language that clients are familiar with.

How many tools have you used for research and analytics? What are your experiences with them?

I have worked with over 15 research and social listening tools, locally and globally. Back in the day, social listening was a new concept to mass audiences that required time and manual work to grow within machine learning. The advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning has shifted the capabilities of social listening tools to a higher level of efficiency, where they can now analyze text, voice, or logo. In my opinion, global listening tools are well established yet limited in terms of languages, while local listening tools like Buzzmetrics can be tailored to special needs to Vietnamese clients as it is customized for dual language analytics

Congratulations on your role at Vero! Can you share which moment has shaped your decision to join a creative agency like Vero?

Thank you and I am excited about this new role. I wasn’t looking for a job at the time, I planned to take a break and spend some time with my family. But it felt like it was meant to be when Vero reached out and asked me to build a brand-new team under Data Intelligence. It was an ambitious goal that convinced me right away that I was the right man for the job and am looking forward to building something great together.

Will it be a challenge for you to adapt to the new work and culture at Vero since you are from a different background?

I have worked with agencies before so it will not be a challenge to adapt. I get asked by people why I moved from client-side to agency-side, since it’s more common sense to do the reverse. But as I mentioned above, this new role and opportunity drives my challenge-seeking nature and motivation, as I have the freedom to build something for Vero as much as for myself.

Besides data analytics, Vero’s also looking to reinforce two other pillars: Influencers/Content Creators and Storytelling. How do you think Data Intelligence can support that?

What Data Intelligence can offer for other departments is a diverse range of tools and sources to analyze, evaluate and support that gives rise to data-driven recommendations. For example, in terms of Influencers and Content Creators, my team and I will determine which type of content is trending, what customers are discussing over social media, or which influencer is suitable for the demographics clients are looking for. In terms of storytelling, a data-driven approach will enable marketers to unearth a story that they want to be told that is relevant to the target audience. As data is collected from consumer insights, it allows brands to visualize the shift in consumer needs and expectations so they can build the story around that.

I was born with a name that means both ‘rock’ and ‘jelly’, that says a lot about the opposites in me. I studied finance and then switched to linguistics because I believed numbers would just be numbers if we didn’t have the language to bring them to life.

What are your priorities and goals for Vero?

I am working closely with the COO to build a team and my priority, for now, is to support and empower every team member so they can access data in the most efficient way and help strengthen their proposals when approaching clients.

The data team is still a work in progress so there is not much to share. Nonetheless, I have already set different goals for my team and myself, which must be aligned with the agency’s vision. I expect my team to be proactive in finding ways to better harness and understand robust data sets, which helps to inspire and empower both the internal team and clients with meaningful and actionable insights.

In recent years, more brands and PR agencies have been adopting a data-driven approach. What are the reasons for this?

There are two reasons behind this. The subjective reason is that now both brands and agencies are aware of how data enables them to deeply understand consumers and communicate the right message to the right audience. In tough competition, businesses cannot survive with only guessing or pure observation. They must dig deeper to get inside the data and statistics to reach their target audience. Objectively, it is the digital technology era that brands and consumers are living in. With the boom of social media and the concept of big data, brands can measure, track, and collect consumer data, enabling the process of crafting and delivering the message to their target audience.

What are the challenges and opportunities involved in data analytics and consumer insights?

The first challenge I can think of is the volume of data, it’s growing every second, which embeds in extra cost for data storage and processing. Data is also fragmented across multiple channels, platforms, and departments so it takes time and manual work to merge and consolidate all the data. Not to mention irrelevant data that we may come across that adds a burden to manual labor. Also, restrictions when it comes to data privacy.  Social media channels are taking more precautions when it comes to user data privacy, for example, Instagram only allows insights within 30 days, which challenges the data analyst to obtain adequate results. And finally, there is a shortage of qualified analytic resources who can quickly catch up with the rapid evolution of new tools and innovative technology.

With that being said, there are opportunities underneath, like the abundance of data coming from social media, e-commerce platforms, and app downloads. The bigger the digital footprint, the closer data analysts can get to a diverse source of data where we can visualize and understand consumer behavior. Also, there is more technical support thanks to new technologies. These innovations provide data analytics with a key to solving problems and unlocking more opportunities to do things faster and better.

Delivering meaningful insights from data and converting that into action is easier said than done. How can you find that missing link between data and business values?

Most businesses want access to an immense pool of data, but I must say, having the most data never makes a business the winner. It is about the story brands can tell from raw data. The world is facing data overload, so the only way to align with the business model is to generate valuable data, which cannot be done from generating vast amounts. Brands must take time and effort to interpret data and collect data in real-time.

Brands should move forward and challenge the process behind decision-making with actionable insights that maximize data-driven success. The most significant value that data can add to a business is expectedly higher efficiencies in money and time, which gives rise to business development and better return on investment (ROI).

What was consumer perception and how has it evolved under the impact of COVID-19?

The pandemic has brought so many changes in both consumer expectations and brand experiences. In terms of volume, people spend more time online as they need to stay connected with family and friends, which drives more conversations across social media platforms. This results in a big digital footprint.

As people spend more time at home, consumer expectations are shifting to keep up with the latest trends globally. For example, I notice the “at-home” concept, like Home Café in Hospitality, Home Spa and Salon in Beauty, Home Gym in Fitness. It shows a variety of creative offerings innovative ideas, proving that indulgence is not necessarily associated with brick-and-mortar stores. There is room for virtual experiences to come in and change both brands and consumers’ perceptions. It is the future and something brands should pay attention to closely.

As a data analyst, what do you need to do to adapt to such a change?

There are three things.

  1. Observe – Data Analysts need to keep their eyes on market trends, monitor them and any shifting movements.
  2. Monitor – check all trends by taking advantage of modern technologies and tools, offering real-time tracking functions through keywords for example.
  3. Be responsive – as data analysts, our job is to bring data to the dashboard, visualize and populate the conversation, where consultants can produce the best response or action.

In your opinion, what is the future of big data, and what’s in it for businesses?

The future of big data continues shifting and evolving, volume is growing exponentially, and quality will also be improved. The trend will shift manual work towards AI and machine learning, also real-time streaming. The demand for a manual workforce remains high due to human capabilities of analyzing and improving decision-making.

Big data will continue to give rise to the data-driven decision-making process and empower the workforce by adding value to business. It can help forecast and check both business and the market, and find issues within business while unlocking data-driven marketing opportunities. By digging deeper into customer data, it unlocks innovation for business strategy, as much as new products and services, to meet the expectations of customers.

When I look at data, I think of stories. When I look at trends, I think what’s next? And when I look at clients’ problems I think of all the opportunities they have yet to seize. Just like a rock and jelly, I’ll bring endless combinations to my work.

You mentioned you love playing with both words and numbers, are they your hobbies?

I studied finance and changed to linguistics later, so I love playing with both numbers and words. I believe numbers will only be numbers if there is no language to bring them to life. When I look at data, I think of stories. When I look at the trends, I think of what is next. And when I look at clients’ problems, I think of all the opportunities hidden underneath they have yet to seize. I think it is a beauty and privilege to be able to translate the data into a story. And I enjoy doing that every day, at work and out of work.

What is a typical day for you as Data Analyst?

My day is filled with data analyzing, dashboard checking, meetings and briefing with the teams, brainstorming sessions, and client pitching. A lot of data, reports, and presentations. But I enjoy starting my morning with a detox drink while checking my task list, replying to emails, and reading news.

What are your messages to all fresh grads that want to pursue this career path?

Data is on the rise and regardless of the advancement in AI and machine learning, the demand for human resources in this industry stays high. It is a competitive industry but offers a highly attractive salary and a lot of room to learn and be creative as data evolves. So, brace yourself for the challenge ahead. Do self-evaluation, analytics, and research before making any decisions, keep your logic aligned.

The last thing I want to mention is no matter what major you are doing right now at school; you can make a turn and choose data analytics instead. This career suits anyone willing to put into the efforts.

Thank you Thach for these fascinating insights, we hope you will enjoy your new journey at Vero and trust that we will reach new heights together.

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