Matt Waller Podcast: How AI is Transforming Consumer Brands and Retail

Shaveer Mirpuri, founder and CEO of Insite AI, joins Matt Waller to discuss how artificial intelligence is transforming consumer brands and retail industries.

Connect at Groceryshop

Connect at Groceryshop

Accelerate Your Sales, Revenue Growth, and Category Management Initiatives

Groceryshop | September 19-21, 2023 | Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Connect with Insite AI at Groceryshop and find out how our revolutionary approach can accelerate your top initiatives. Our team of AI and strategic consulting teams have walked in your shoes, giving them unparalleled insights into your industry-specific hurdles. Our Strategic Advisors are consumer brand and retail veterans from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Walmart, Target, 7-Eleven, Kroger, among dozens of others.

Let us guide you in tackling your organization’s distinct challenges head-on. Through our collaborative approach, we craft a tailored solution to elevate your product assortment, pricing strategies, trade promotions, and demand forecasting.

Don’t miss this opportunity to expedite your success and lead your organization toward a more efficient and profitable future.

The Leading Partner for Large Consumer Brands

Know the precise impact of your decisions.

We’re the only partner that lets you dial in multiple scenarios, and confidently predict how they would perform on a forward looking basis against multiple KPIs, with details down to the most granular level, regardless of complexity. Make confident decisions at either the big-picture strategic or tactical level involving commercial aspects such as assortment, pricing, trade, space, and planning. In one click, foresee the results of exactly what will happen in any given scenario. Our unique capabilities take in multiple conditions and assumptions; alternatively, decision makers can rely on us to leverage the technology on their behalf. Act with extreme certainty, speed, save significant time, and ensure your actions will achieve commercial results.

Define your specific objectives, and receive new and creative ways to reach them.

Are you seeking to grow volume? Maximize prices? Grow shelf space? Improve trade effectiveness? Outperform a competitor? Rationalize spend? Our capabilities “goal seek” the exact new strategies or tactical outputs to achieve this, taking into account all of your business dynamics, beliefs, and nuances. Get multiple novel strategies that are truly implementable and actionable. Fuse your vision with our technological levers that incorporate an incredible number of factors. See the forward looking and granular articulation on the recommendation’s performance. This is something any large team of experts aren’t capable of.

Explainable assortment, space, pricing, and trade promotion decisions.

Harmonizing data and searching it for insights is old news, and few companies see value from it. We provide internal and external narratives that are defensible and truly differentiated. In one click, our capabilities explain and decompose the “why” on a forward-looking basis; and the data is presented in a powerful, immediately understandable manner. Incrementality, demand transference, price elasticities, cross elasticities, attributions, shifts, patterns, and factors affecting your existing or recommended actions are clearly articulated.

Connect at Groceryshop


Meet our Team:

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Brooke Hodierne

EVP, Strategy Consulting

Former SVP of Merchandising at 7-Eleven, Brooke brings nearly 20 years of grocery and convenience retail experience to Insite AI. She understands what it takes to build valuable partnerships with retailers, and in her role as EVP of Strategy Consulting, she advises consumer brands on ways to elevate strategic business planning, achieve category leadership, and create optimal shopping experiences for their consumers.

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Capri Brixey

EVP, Strategy Consulting

Former leader at Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper Snapple, and Delhaize, Capri brings extensive strategic leadership experience from both retail and supplier roles in the consumer goods industry. She was recognized as a Senior-Level Top Woman in Convenience in 2022 and has also received recognition for her leadership in collaborative/joint business planning with top retailers across multiple channels and formats.

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Kristine Joji

EVP, Strategy Consulting

Kristine is a highly accomplished retail executive and former VP of Merchandising at Walmart.  Kristine led strategic initiatives that resulted in substantial revenue growth for the company across Grocery and prior to that Personal Care.  Widely recognized as a visionary leader, she played a pivotal role in optimizing Walmart’s merchandising with large CPGs.

Why Insite AI?

A Consultative Approach

Our team becomes an extension of your team. Our Strategic Advisors are consumer brand and retail veterans from PepsiCo, Mars, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Walmart, Target, 7-Eleven, Kroger, among dozens of others. Our top priority is ensuring you have the guidance and support you need to achieve your goals and maximize the value of your investment.

Most Mature, CPG-Proven Capabilities

Everyone else starts from scratch, yet Insite AI has already invested over eight figures of capital and several years into building leading edge technology; creating unmatched advantages for tackling your top initiatives.

Deeply Tailored to Meet Your Goals

We deeply tailor our engagements and fully configure our solutions to meet the unique needs of your brand. Insite AI is a true innovation partner providing CPGs with fully customizable solutions built to solve their unique challenges, enabling them to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and outperform their competition.

There’s a New Growth Engine for CPGs

How AI Is the New Growth Engine for CPG Chief Growth Officers

Executives at the world’s leading CPGs have huge amounts of data and insights available to them, and with R&D centers around the globe and huge insight budgets at their fingertips, some might argue that the role of the Chief Growth Officer would be an easy one. But the reality is that, despite their extensive corporate resources, agile startups are nipping at the heels of large product manufacturers and the sheer size and complexity of CPGs doesn’t always work in their favor. The huge amount of data and insights coming in from the market is creating analysis paralysis – a situation where multiple feeds of static data are sitting in silos in different parts of the organization and delaying crucial strategic decisions.

It’s never been a more challenging time to be a Chief Revenue or Growth Officer. To survive and thrive in the increasingly challenging economic environment, brands and retailers need to collaborate closer than ever before to put the customer at the center of their business decisions. Yet in practice, retailers are highly protective of their consumer data and rarely share their real strategic agenda with their suppliers. With dramatically and quickly shifting consumer tastes, preferences, and shopping behaviors, as well as own-label powerhouses like ALDI and Trader Joe’s, many factors are gradually luring people away from branded products.

Multiple pressures are on the Chief Growth Officer: colleague and shareholder pressures, shorter product innovation cycles, retailer and consumer demand for fresh items more frequently, and a vicious grab for market share in new and interesting categories.

There is also a paradox within modern CPGs: they want to act agile in order to compete with the new string of direct-to-consumer innovators, but these startups are often funded by bullish venture capitalists willing to take a risk across multiple bets. Yet CPGs must be prudent and are typically risk-averse. So how can you act agile if you’re not willing to take a test-and-learn approach?

AI and machine learning hold the key to making agile innovation less risky and can make predictions with unbelievable accuracy. Solutions like Insite AI sit within your own cloud, securely bringing together millions of data points from inside and outside the business. Historical sales data, category data, consumer insight data, 3rd-party data from the leading research houses such as Nielsen and Kantar…add to that unstructured data such as the latest trends reports and insights from countless social media posts where consumers share their emerging behaviors, ideas, opinions, shopping trends, and future intent.

As a leader responsible for growth and revenue, you need to combine millions of disparate data points and connect the dots between things that would be impossible for any team of people to achieve. This is where AI and ML come in. Imagine a world where millions of scenarios are created in hours (not days or months), with a result of clear intelligence on categories and product concepts with highly accurate and granular forecasts of how they will perform in each channel (retail, e-commerce, direct to consumer) and at different price points. Just imagine the step change in your organization when you can sift through your innovation pipeline and have the confidence to commercialize projects, removing the nagging doubt of failure.

If you’re ready to see how Insite AI’s proven engine will drive incremental growth, customer-market fit, and added value for your retail and distribution partners, then you’re ready to turn the uncertainty of rapid change into your CPG’s opportunity.

Could AI Have Predicted the Explosive Growth of Hard Seltzers?

Hard seltzers have seen sparkling growth over the last few years, and really took hold of the alcoholic beverage scene in 2019 and 2020.

In a recent Nielsen study looking at March and April in 2020 vs. the same months in 2019, consumers decreased their share of spending on beer and wine, with beer losing 5.6 share points and wine losing 4 share points, and these spending shares show even more discrepancy in hot-weather seasons.

Mainstream beer and alcohol manufacturers who have taken on hard seltzer production represented less than 20% of the market as of June 2020, meaning that those brewers missed out on getting a piece of the action earlier and have forfeited a larger market share.

The hard seltzer segment has caught the attention of brands around the world, and they’re all eager to grab a slice of this growing market. At the beginning of 2018, just 10 brands were on the market; by the beginning of 2019, there were 26 hard seltzer brands and right now, there are more than 65 brands fighting for consumer attention:

During and early summer of 2020, hard seltzer off-premise sales in the US (i.e. supermarket and convenience store sales) quadrupled on a year-on-year basis, and showed an increase of $900 million.

Consumers now have choices that include traditional hard seltzers, cider seltzers, wine seltzers, spritzers, spirit-based seltzers, and the list goes on. There’s no shortage of options in this category.

Many CPG brands faced both c-suite and shareholder backlash for not predicting or at more quickly reacting to this global trend. Some brands have come late to the party and have been forced to play catch-up, having to forge new brands from scratch or find meaningful ways to add extensions to existing brands (a reaction seen from some of the well-known beer brands).

Retailers now have dozens of seltzer brands all fighting for.

Many CPGs saw the shift happening before them, but didn’t act sooner because they just didn’t have an accurate way to predict the potential sales or profitability of such a launch. The largest drinks companies won’t give a new brand the green light unless they can guarantee hundreds of millions of dollars in sales right off the bat. In the USA, the market is dominated by White Claw and Truly. White Claw was the brainchild of Mark Anthony Brands, the creator of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Truly was created by the Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams. Unbelievably, the Boston Beer Company now sells more hard seltzer than it does beer!

So how could other beverage brands have spotted and acted on this trend earlier, securing a larger market share?

The problem with many beverage companies and CPGs is that data is siloed across many places: trend forecasts from strategic consultancies and futurists; shopper data from retailers (which typically is owned and guarded by the retailer); the company’s own sales and category data.

Trends like the hard-seltzer phenomenon could have been spotted much earlier by tuning in to the weak signals coming from the market. Often these weak signals are too faint for any one department to spot.

Social media, blogs, and even restaurant menus are another source of insight – the problem is, there’s such a huge mountain of data, any R&D or insights team would need to trawl through millions or even billions of data points to spot emerging trends.

It’s just not feasible for humans to do, and siloed data is too challenging, time consuming, and cumbersome to analyze, respond, and act quickly.

This is where an integrated AI platform shines. Insite AI will analyze feeds from multiple sources, joining the dots between data that would normally never be combined. It ingests internal sales and performance data, market-share metrics, and much more, then runs simulations and forecasts, combining it with data from the likes of Nielsen and Kantar and EPOS data from retailers. The AI engine has the ability to trawl through billions of social media posts and articles, too, turning this raw and disparate data into intelligence. Combining this intelligence with billions of what-if scenarios, you’ll be presented with decisions on which you can be confident, giving the CPG rigorous ammunition to prove your business case to both your company and your retail partners.

Intelligent decisions, founded on data.

Had some of the world’s largest beverage brands used this technique, they would have spotted and accurately predicted the performance of the hard-seltzer category. They would have moved faster, created new brands more quickly, and entered the market much earlier, gaining greater market share and consumer mindshare. Not only that, they would have been able to prepare their logistics and manufacturing infrastructure, ready for the huge bottling volumes required to fulfil demand.

This hard-seltzer tale is not entirely unique, and it won’t be the last. Other categories are also about to explode. Trends and changes in consumer behaviour are bubbling away.

As a CPG, imagine the gains to be had if you could anticipate now and reap the benefits of being ahead of the curve later.

Launching a New Product in Crisis Mode

New products are often tricky to launch, but doing so amidst a crisis is even more challenging. Here’s a look at how P&G handled the launch of Microban 24 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s Possible But Tricky to Launch a New Product During Crisis Mode. So How?

In January 2020, nobody in CPG could have predicted that certain business categories were about to boom; curbside grocery delivery, video communications platforms, and cleaning products were about to explode, but who could have seen it coming? Businesses in these sectors have experienced real category growth during the pandemic, boosting their businesses by delivering value to consumers when they needed it the most.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken most of us to the core and taken most of us by surprise, but it’s not the first such event to have done so and it won’t be the last. CPGs must be ready and have as much insight and prediction ability as possible for what happens next.

In February 2020, P&G launched Microban 24, a cleaning and sanitizing product that could kill 99% of cold and flu viruses. The launch coincided with the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic and at a time when shoppers were emptying retailers’ shelves of anything that could kill viruses. Microban 24 was on track to end 2020 with sales of over $200 million – more than twice the original projections.

COVID-19 took most business leaders and CPGs by surprise, including the team at P&G who immediately had a capacity and supply chain challenge on their hands; consumers couldn’t buy the new Microban products fast enough, quickly causing inventory shortages. One of the biggest challenges was even just sourcing enough triggers for the spray bottles.

According to the leaders of the world’s most important CPGs, 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak have changed consumer behavior forever. According to Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, “these are fundamental changes that aren’t going to go back.”

While 2020 was a year of major growth and opportunity for some CPGs, it was a painful experience for many in adopting new ways of working, including becoming more agile, making faster decisions, and dealing with high levels of future uncertainty.

The Microban story begs a fundamental question for CPGs: how can some of them recover, how can those who have won keep flying high amidst quickly evolving landscapes, and how can they stay ahead of the curve? They must be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to demand and revenue forecasting and the respective requirements in terms of manufacturing, logistics, and sales and marketing support.

Leading CPGs like P&G are turning to AI to assist with highly accurate forecasting, enabling new and established brands in their portfolio to remain nimble and having the ability to evolve plans and strategy in near real time. One of the challenges CPGs face is an overwhelming amount of static, historical data collected across the organization and oftenheld in different silos. While executives have access to modern-day KPI dashboards, these often rely on past data and don’t account for the hundreds of factors that can change consumer demand in a world that’s changing faster than ever.

Imagine your ERP system linked with sales and marketing data, your consumer insights, real-time retailer intelligence, direct-to-consumer channels, news and weather data, as well as up-to-the-minute consumer intent and preference analytics coming from social media and listening.

By running millions of ‘what if’ scenarios in a matter of hours, the right AI tool will allow you to continually optimize your go-to-market plans. This includes modelling decisions on category and brand stretch, category adjacencies, and brand extensions. The right platform will give you the power to predict demand, right down to the most granular level: by SKU, by channel, by retailer, and even down to the individual store.

Test new product variants, price points, and shelf-arrangements months before a product goes live, enabling faster time to market and lower development costs. Test assumptions and validate gut feel without the risk of losing time or making failed investments.

As soon as the world changes, like with a COVID-19-type event, a smart AI tool gives you the power to re-forecast category, demand, and supply-chain issues from beginning to end in hours rather than days or months.

Talk to our CPG solution experts and see forecasting like you’ve never seen it before.