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How Tillamook Uses Canvs to Accelerate Insights and Empathy

Driving Consumer Value • Narrative-First Approach • Accelerating Time to Insights

Tillamook, an innovative dairy company, turned to Canvs AI to unlock critical insights from unstructured text. Tillamook’s in-house insights team is now saving hours of time and developing deeper consumer empathy and insights.

Check out the short video below to hear Olivia Zabrodsky from Tillamook discuss the benefits of using Canvs, or check out the full video over on our resources page.

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Insights ROI

  • Consumer Empathy: Customers who say Tillamook understands their needs have 5X higher lifetime value.
  • AI Story Assist: Canvs AI’s generative AI insights co-pilot allows Tillamook to take a “narrative first” approach to the research, answering business questions more quickly and with greater detail.
  • Time Savings: Tillamook is saving 15 hours a week by automating text analysis.

Tillamook Fast Facts

  • Tillamook is a farmer-owned co-op with a mission to be the most consumer-centric dairy company in the world. 
  • This innovative dairy company produces over 340 items in six dairy categories: cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, butter, and cream cheese.
  • Tillamook’s insights team is comprised of 15 team members and they serve as a small agency for the company. They support 3 key areas: brand & category management, data & analytics, and shopper insights.


The Tillamook insights team was tasked with the business goal of “More hands, more often,” which means more consumers experiencing the brand more often to drive brand love and loyalty. From there, the team identified two business questions to inform consumer-led innovation and marketing strategies:

  1. What attributes do consumers seek when selecting food to eat?
  2. What are deeper emotional consumer needs that we can address?

The team needed a text analysis tool to make this process more efficient and meaningful to drive consumer empathy. 


Tillamook’s insights team conducted a general population study where 130 participants wrote 5 days of food journal entries. The team received over 8,000 journal entries to analyze! With this much rich consumer feedback, the Tillamook team was relieved to have the Canvs platform there to zone in on underlying consumer needs and feelings to create true consumer empathy. The insights team took a “narrative first” approach to the research with AI Story Assist, our generative AI “co-pilot,” to help answer their business questions more quickly and with greater detail. 

AI Story Assist Question #1: What attributes do consumers seek when selecting food to eat?

The team asked the AI Story Assist tool “What attributes do consumers seek when selecting food to eat?” and received these answers:

  1. Satisfies their hunger and cravings.
  2. Tastes delicious and flavorful.
  3. Provides a feeling of emotional comfort.

The third answer made the team pause because they weren’t sure what emotional comfort meant and what it means to a consumer.

Tillamook Session AI Story Assist
AI Story Assist Question #2: In reference to food, what does emotional comfort mean to consumers?

From there, the team went back to the generative AI tool and asked “In reference to food, what does emotional comfort mean to consumers?” and received this answer:

Emotional comfort when eating refers to the feelings of satisfaction, happiness, and contentment that one experiences while consuming a particular food or meal. This can be associated with the taste, texture, or even memories and nostalgia tied to the food. 

Tillamook Session AI Story Assist
Insight Unlocked: Nostalgia

The team had their “aha” moment and discovered that consumers are linking emotional comfort and food to nostalgia. To quantify and validate this insight, the team used the Topics tool in the Canvs platform and found that “Nostalgia” was mentioned in 11% of the open ends. 

AI Story Assist Question #3: Why do consumers want nostalgic food?

The team then wanted to challenge this insight and asked the AI Story Assist tool “Why do consumers want nostalgic food?” and received this answer:

Consumers want foods that are nostalgic because these foods often evoke positive memories and emotions from their past. Nostalgic foods can provide a sense of comfort, familiarity, and happiness. Additionally, they can remind people of:

  1. Simpler times
  2. Cherished experiences
  3. Connections with loved ones
Now the team is really starting to see how they can action this in the form of innovation and marketing. From here, the insights team took this insight back to the organization to help drive innovation and demand creation strategies and category thought leadership. Tillamook even went to their retail partners to share this unlock and insights they found in their research.
Tillamook AI Story Assist GIF


Driving Consumer Value

Eighty-five percent of Tillamook’s heavy/loyalist consumers say that the brand understands their needs and that’s not only something that they say, but it reflects in what they do. The team found that insights rooted in empathy drive 5X higher customer value.

Less Time Spent on Manual Work

With Canvs’ help, Tillamook was able to move away from manually coding open ends, which saves their team 10 to 15 hours a week. The team is now able to focus more on the “why” consumers do things versus the “what” they’re doing. This has dramatically boosted the productivity and enjoyment of the insights team.

AI-Powered Consumer Insights

The Tillamook insights team used to fear using open ends in their studies, but now they are chasing any opportunity to use them with the help of Canvs’ AI Story Assist. Our generative AI tool empowers the team to tap into deeper empathy without sacrificing speed or accuracy. 

"Canvs AI has helped us with speed, accuracy, and ultimately that deeper empathy that we’re really seeking as a team and as a brand."

Olivia Zabrodsky, Consumer & Market Insights Manager at Tillamook

Canvs works with elite insights teams to make consumer empathy a superpower through the magic of AI, and we’d love to work with you. Reach out to learn more and schedule a demo.


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