The Women of Mars: Life Is Sweet for Lisa Saxon Reed and the Sensory Team

Feb 11, 2020 7:00 PM ET

Making a living from tasting chocolate and helping to create exciting new flavors for products all over the globe may sound like a fantasy for many, but for Lisa Saxon Reed, Global Director of Sensory at Mars Wrigley, it’s what she does every day. “By far my favorite thing,” she said, “is really living eight-year-old Lisa’s dream of getting paid to try chocolate, and make it a little bit better.” 

Over the past eight years, Lisa has helped build the global sensory team whose mission is to understand what experiences consumers want. While flavor remains king (or queen!), the team strives to delight as many of the senses as possible – like the satisfying “pop” of a gum pack securely closing. “We work very hard to understand product and pack experience — the more of the senses we can engage, the more likely we are to win with the consumer.” 

A new product can take up to three years from start to finish. “It’s all about iterating, iterating, iterating,” said Lisa, “until you’re able to deliver what they want.”

Every year Lisa and her team are conducting hundreds of consumer experience tests on new products and flavors all over the world, monitoring trends, and trying to understand what consumers are looking for, and more importantly understanding where the variances lie. For example, while green tea has been popular in China for centuries, it has only recently become mainstream in other countries like the U.S. “Certain flavors travel around the world,” explained Lisa, “but some may take a lot longer to get from one country to the next”. The Skittles brand alone has a global ‘flavor pantry’ of 150 different tastes that go in and out of circulation, all honed to regional market trends and cultural preferences. 

Lisa cites the growth of the team as one of her proudest achievements, and she hopes other girls and women follow in her own footsteps.

We are proud to highlight Women of Mars, like Lisa, who are thriving in their career and represent our commitment to advancing gender diversity and equality. 

We know our diversity of talent, thought and experiences has empowered us to offer a range of products and services for people and pets across the globe. 

“The fact that I ended up in this role after graduating with a political science major demonstrates Mars is committed to allowing people to forge their own career path, irrespective of their background,” she said.

With a company portfolio as broad as ours, we can only continue to innovate and prosper by having diverse teams and a culture where all ideas are welcome.