How Social Listening Helped Mars, Inc. Evaluate Its EVP

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Across the globe, businesses are scrambling to add new hires while trying to make the changes needed to stand out in a competitive talent marketplace. For many organizations, that means taking a closer look at not just what you expect from employees, but what they expect from you. Candidates’ expectations are changing when it comes to pay, benefits, work from home, and more.

That’s why we were excited to catch up with Chris Woods, an Employer Reputation and Recruitment Marketing Manager at Mars, Inc. Mars is perhaps best known for their popular candy brands like Milky Way bars and M&M’s, but they also have a massive petcare business through their brands Pedigree and Whiskas, as well as being one of the largest veterinary services providers in the world. That means their hiring needs are just as diverse as their offerings, and we spoke to Woods to learn how they reach out to add talent in everything from CPG (consumer packaged goods) to data science for positions all over the world.

The Associate Concept

One unique thing we noticed immediately is that Woods didn’t use traditional employer/employee language when talking about members of the Mars team. The term they use instead is “associates,” and that terminology has deep significance for how the organization treats its employees.

“We consider them to be associates because we work together: you don’t work for Mars, you work with Mars. It’s a two-way relationship,” Woods says. He explains that within the organization, they think of making a new hire as creating a two-way contract both in terms of what they expect from associates and what, in turn, associates expect from Mars.

A Commitment to Authenticity

The Associate Concept squares with one of Mars’s core principles, mutuality. It’s not just about what associates can do for the business, but what the business can do for associates in terms of career growth, learning, and development opportunities. As the sixth-largest privately owned business in the world, sticking to these principles has helped Mars find success over its 100+ years of existence, and it’s also reflected in its marketing and creative resources.

“When we go to market with our creative and our narrative, we make sure that we are always showing our actual associates and their real stories,” Woods says. They never use stock imagery: every employee you see in a picture from Mars Creative is an actual associate of Mars, Inc., and the stories they tell are just as genuine and unique.

How Mars Evaluates Its EVP

Woods and his team are currently in the process of reevaluating their employer value proposition (EVP), which involved a global survey to find out whether associates’ perceptions of Mars square with what they think their main selling points are to new hires. “We were looking for a way to compare what our associates were saying to us anonymously through our survey with what they were externally through social listening methods, which is where Link Humans came in so perfectly,” he says.

We came in to help them measure sentiment and create an analysis to tell them what was working and what might need some tweaks. Their data set included about 30,000 individual data points with several free text answers. While the main pillars squared up with what associates actually thought, they were able to use the data they had gleaned to make sure their messaging had the right emphasis.

We helped Woods create a report he could take to leadership to support his recommendations. This included a dashboard that allowed team members working in different markets to segment data relevant to their specific situations. Because Mars is a global business involved in so many different industries and talent groups, this was a crucial step that enabled them to put their insights into action throughout the organization. In the end, following the data allowed Mars to reinvest in their EVP and understand what parts of their messaging to emphasize to stand out to the candidates they’re looking to hire.

To follow Chris Woods’ work in employer brand, connect with him on LinkedIn. To get started on your EVP, get in touch with us. We’ll help you identify the values and culture you want to create in your company.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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