Top 3 Takeaways From the Category Management and Shopper Insights Conference

Conferences are hectic. Attendees split their time between different sessions and workshops, all while navigating aisles of booths and vendors. When the rush dies down, it can be easy to settle back into the daily grind.

After attending the CMA/SIMA Conference in February 2019, I didn’t want to forget any of the insights shared by CPG leaders and industry specialists.

Takeaways that stand out most to me:

1. To stay competitive, CPGs need to do more with their data.

CPGs have access to incredible amounts of data. And it’s growing fast.

As the customer journey has become more complex and moved increasingly online, companies have gained more touchpoints to interact with consumers. Even underneath the online umbrella, the types of data that different channels generate can be overwhelming — from social media engagement to e-commerce dropoffs to organic website growth.

The ability for CPGs to analyze this data and use it to make decisions is important, but it’s also a challenge to get to this stage. After all, the data must be stored, structured, prepared, and connected to an analytics platform. At every stage, more questions arise.

CPGs are aware that turning data into action can be complex. CPG leaders need to ask probing questions about implementation for any analytics tools they’re considering.

2. CPGs know that AI is important…but most companies don’t know how to get started.

AI is a term that’s been popping up all across the CPG space. It’s manifested in developments such as Amazon Go and will only continue to permeate the business world.

Many companies are investing in AI to create futuristic technologies and experiences. Simultaneously, business intelligence tools are starting to plug their AI capabilities.

But what exactly is AI? What does it practically mean for CPGs right now, today?

AI is a big umbrella and can refer to many different things. For CPGs, I want to break down some of what AI is capable of in terms of impacting your bottom line:

  • AI can analyze brand health, explaining how a brand performed and why.
  • AI can determine the underlying root causes for your metrics. Consumption impacts market value, which impacts sales value, and so on.
  • AI can help you determine which actions to take and in what order by showing which metrics have the potential to create the greatest impact.

These are just a few examples of the ways AI is being used right now to give CPGs a competitive edge.

Want to learn more about AI for CPGs? Check out our ungated resource, CPG Analytics: The Definitive Guide.

3. Creative personalization matters, and AI can help.

Consumers are inundated with ads, which means CPGs and retailers need to think creatively about how to reach prospects.

Doug Stephens emphasized the importance of creating experiences to target consumers in his keynote speech. The Museum of Ice Cream was a particularly creative example of building an interactive shopping experience by catering to Instagramers, influencers, and people who enjoy sharing pictures in cool spaces.

Building a personalized experience can be a successful strategy, but CPGs don’t necessarily have the space of traditional retailers to do so. What they can do — without investing in an intricately designed photoshoot space — is leverage AI to cluster consumers and better understand their unique wants.

Bigger picture, AI can speed up the time it takes to figure out what happened. When category managers and other business people can get answers to complex business questions in under a minute, they can become much more agile. That means there’s more opportunity to take risks, to pivot toward opportunities, and to course correct when a strategy isn’t working as expected.

With the flexibility and adaptability that AI grants, I hope to see more businesses try innovative campaigns like the Museum of Ice Cream.

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