Decoding AI for CPGs: A Path to Category Management Success

Hosted by the Category Management Association

Curious about integrating AI into your category management practices? Join us for this panel discussion with retail industry veterans and former category and sales leaders at Coca-Cola, Walmart and Nike as they discuss AI adoption in the CPG world.

Our panelists will explore critical topics such as generative AI, strategic starting points on your AI journey, and the nuances of outsourcing AI solutions. Equip yourself with the knowledge to thrive in an AI-driven marketplace and stay ahead of the curve.

  • Identify the best opportunities for AI integration in your category management practices
  • What to look for in an AI partner and how to identify AI white washing
  • Receive expert guidance on where and how to initiate your AI journey, tailored specifically for CPG companies.
  • Benefits and challenges of outsourcing AI talent.
  • Explore the potential of generative AI for CPGs

Get actionable steps and practical advice on how to execute an AI project, both with partners and gain alignment and support internally. Gain clarity and confidence in embracing AI to outpace your competitors in the dynamic CPG landscape.

Presented by:

  • Capri Brixey, EVP, Strategy Consulting at Insite AI
  • Kristine Joji, EVP, Strategy Consulting at Insite AI
  • Marsha Shapiro, SVP of Client Solutions at Insite AI

Outsourcing Software Development: It’s Changed With AI

As featured on Forbes

According to the IBM Global AI Adoption Index, the leading barrier to AI adoption is talent. More than a third of the IT executives surveyed said they are hindered by limited AI skill sets, which has led to an exponential increase in the outsourcing of AI talent.

In this Forbes Technology Council article, Shaveer Mirpuri, shares insight to help CPGs as they consider staff augmentation partners to accelerate AI initiatives.

About the author

Shaveer Mirpuri is cofounder and CEO of Insite AI, an AI and strategy partner for large consumer brands.

Four Trends That Will Drive CPGs To Adopt AI in 2024

While food retailers have been actively utilizing AI to forecast shopper behavior and streamline supply chains, the adoption rate among consumer brands lags behind. In this article, we discuss four key trends that will drive CPGs to adopt AI in 2024 and beyond.

About the Author:

Brooke Hodierne serves as EVP of strategy consulting for Insite AI. She previously worked at 7-Eleven as SVP of merchandising for the leading c-store. Before joining 7-Eleven, she held multiple positions at Giant Eagle, notably as VP of own brands.

3 Questions Every CPG Should Ask When Implementing AI

Written by Gopalakrishna Tadiparthi, SVP of machine learning and artificial intelligence

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the CPG industry, AI is poised to revolutionize various aspects of the industry with the multifaceted advances in the technology. In my many years working in the field of AI and ML, it’s been true that CPGs are slow to adopt the technology for their analytics needs. But why is this when predictive analytics can offer so much to their business?

According to a 2023 RIS News survey, only 13% of the consumer goods companies surveyed felt they were adopting AI/ML technology to improve analytics, compared to 23% of retailers. The study specifically added that more than a third of brands using AI have not used the technology at all for pricing, demand planning and key functions like optimizing promotions.  

[Source: 2023 RIS News Consumer Goods Technology Analytics study]

While there may be several reasons why CPGs haven’t fully invested in AI, one plausible reason is they haven’t armed themselves with enough knowledge and education before committing. It’s one thing to understand that AI will undoubtedly help a brand optimize assortments in stores, but it’s another to embrace and trust how AI will work inside a company’s existing infrastructure and processes (own plumbing). 

From my view, as the head of AI/ML technology at Insite AI for three years — or lead plumber, if you will — and having spent more than 12 years at dunnhumby working on  advanced analytics, I have three questions that all brands should ask an AI partner before working together. 

These key questions will help brands better understand AI and implement a solution with more confidence. 

Question 1: “Can you build the solution internally?”

At Insite AI, the answer is yes. One myth around AI is that a consumer goods manufacturer always needs to turn its data over to a source outside the company to receive AI-powered insights. They don’t. A dependable AI platform brings the toolkit to a customer’s house and integrates directly into their cloud. There’s no need to take the data out of the brand’s internal systems. Insite AI brings its AI expertise to CPGs and customizes algorithms that fit their architecture.

Many vendors and AI companies require that CPG send the data externally and require the CPG company to work on the standard solution. A major problem here is that there is no guarantee that a brand’s data will play nice inside that AI company’s solution. 

Question 2: “Can you harmonize multiple, varying sets of data?”

For Insite AI, that’s affirmative. CPGs have rich data. They possess data from disparate sources and as a result the data. Converting heterogeneous to homogeneous data is a major benefit of AI done right. Predictive analytics and retail-focused large language models (LLMs) can take a wide range of data sources and harmonize the results all in one place to help tell a more succinct and effective story.

“At the heart of data is storytelling, and brands can struggle to find a story to tell if data is lying in piles around the house.” 

Gopalakrishna Tadiparthi, SVP of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Insite AI

An AI platform harmonizes this data all in one location. Just as Insite AI can come to a customer’s house to build a custom product that works, we also clean up the house, too. We bring our toolkit and pick up the scattered data, knowing which sources of information are best to use for specific problems and implement accordingly. 

It’s paramount to have one AI platform distill varying data sources such as sales data, macroeconomic insights, third-party panel data analysis, weather, etc., into one location, one single source of truth.

Question 3: “Can your AI platform explain the data?”

Absolutely, with Insite AI, it can. After harmonizing the data, Insite AI’s proprietary AI model can explain the decisions. It’s not enough for any data or insights program to deliver results, the AI needs to explain the “why” behind the numbers. Insite AI prides itself on the models we use for “explainability.” 

Traditionally, CPGs use statistical linear regression models. Through these models, they are telling stakeholders a story. But, with disparate data sets, it can be hard to tell a story. Insite AI has developed a three-step process, where we take all the data in, find what’s useful, and then build a machine learning model that makes the data parsimonious, or explainable for the end user. 

How can CPGs lead in AI adoption

In conclusion, the pathway for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs) to excel in AI adoption lies in the judicious handling of their vast data resources. The integration of AI/ML and advanced predictive analytics transforms this data into enduring strategies for brand growth. Notably, an effective AI model must not only optimize data utilization but also prioritize efficiency and security.

CPGs should embrace change, select AI partners wisely, and collaborate with retailers to unlock shared value. Ultimately, the correct implementation of AI/ML not only enhances sales but propels brands toward the achievement of their annual business objectives. The convergence of strategic foresight and technological prowess positions CPGs to thrive in the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence.

Contact us to learn more.

The Art Of Assembling An Industry-Recognized Leadership Team To Best Serve Consumer Brands

At Insite AI, we pride ourselves in creating a company culture that fosters innovation, collaboration, and agility. Leveraging our team’s firsthand expertise in CPG, Retail, and AI, we provide genuinely valuable insights and impactful recommendations to the market.

In this Forbes Technology Council article, Insite AI Founder & CEO, Shaveer Mirpuri, shares guidance for assembling a truly differentiated industry-recognized team. View article.

About the Author

Shaveer Mirpuri | Co-Founder & CEO

Former exec and board of 2 early stage VC backed companies (IPO and acquired). Subsequently invested in 15 tech companies in e-commerce, AI, consumer brands, and manufacturing, including 3 JVs with F500 corporates. Prior consultant to Walmart’s ex CEO on AI. American Chamber of Commerce named 2019 top 3 in entrepreneurship.

Unlocking the Full Potential of Walmart Luminate through AI

Walmart Luminate highlights what’s happened inside the store and online like never before. Insite AI emphasizes what to do next with the data.

Walmart Luminate is a game-changing data platform that shines a light into a deep, dark data void, where no CPG has had visibility before. The platform delivers shopper insights, product performance and channel data such as pickup and delivery orders across 140 million households — weekly.

The platform is revolutionizing how brands use data to reach their consumers, but Insite AI can help unlock even more potential within the data. For example, Walmart Luminate highlights what’s happened inside the store and online like never before. Insite AI emphasizes what to do next with the data. Insite AI’s machine learning and AI models provide a forward-looking tactical layer on top of the Walmart data. Brands can see how a change in pricing, promotions or pack sizes will alter their course in the marketplace.

Walmart Luminate delivers the data. We help you put it in motion.

Walmart Luminate and Insite AI at work

Having spent nearly 20 years of my career at Walmart, most recently as the VP of merchandising in dry grocery, as well as working within bakery, personal care and other categories, I have been fortunate to see Walmart pilot and cultivate the Walmart Luminate program.

I also have a tremendous amount of experience working with brands to grow and maneuver within Walmart. I mention this, because alongside Brooke Hodierne, who was SVP of merchandising at 7-Eleven, and Capri Brixey, who was a former leader at Coca-Cola, we add a human element to the numbers. We overlay business intuition and consultation as a result of our deep and diverse business backgrounds.

With that said, let’s look at some hypothetical scenarios where Walmart Luminate and Insite AI can work together to help brands get better results.

  • Product innovation. A snack food brand uses Walmart Luminate to look at larger category trends and in the process identifies a competitive product making waves. The new challenger brand delivers higher protein content and is more affordable. In response, the snack food brand has decided to create a new line of products with 10 more grams of protein. Insite AI can help that brand forecast a range of scenarios on how a certain pack size would perform against that competitor. What pricing would work better? Would a specific promotion generate more sales at launch, and how will it be performing months down the line?
  • Brand-switching behavior. Walmart Luminate delivers a weekly report to a detergent brand that shows the detergent was out of stock in a specific region of the country. It also shows what percentage of households switched to a new brand because of the out-of-stock product, highlights what brand the households bought and shares more in-depth analysis. Insite AI can then layer in predictive market analytics around demand forecasting in consumer segments and parts of the country to help the detergent brand see where its brand loyalty lies and how to effectively respond.
  • Delivery trends. Within Walmart Luminate’s data is a look at online transactions for delivery and pickup at the store, and a beer brand, for example, can narrow in to see if there was a spike in delivery during the first Sunday of the NFL football season. What brand had the highest delivery? Which brands lagged? At what time of the day did the deliveries occur most? Insite AI can layer on the tactical to see if the trend will continue and deliver efficient forecasts on what types of promotions or moves can be made to accelerate the trend and predict when out of stocks may occur.

Factor in all the categories and shopping behaviors happening daily inside a Walmart, and the scenarios facing brands are endless. Walmart Luminate works with brands of all sizes, offering a free package with limited insights. There is a monetized version which provides customer decision trees, leakage trees and real-time insights across 140 million households.

No doubt, the data platform will grow. Insite AI will grow alongside it, working with CPGs to help solve their challenges.

Unprecedented data and insights

No other data platforms deliver a view into online delivery and pickup behaviors, giving Walmart Luminate a major competitive advantage. Before Walmart Luminate, CPGs had to rely on panel data and qualitative data sets to try and spot a trend.

But the panel data is tens of thousands of households, and the data is months old. Brands have done excellent work with panel data but it can also be tricky. The results rely on how the panel responds, and sometimes people say what they want you to hear, or the subset of people in the panel isn’t very broad, in my opinion.

Walmart Luminate offers brands data at scale, and the data presents a complete picture of shopper behaviors and households. The data withholds any identifiable information of a shopper, but it represents 140 million households across income levels and ethnicities shopping at Walmart stores. CPGs have at their fingertips truly robust data.

Insite AI can help brands take this data even further. Contact us to see how we can leverage AI and predictive analytics and help you turn insights from Walmart Luminate into immediate action.

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

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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.

View on LinkedIn

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.

View on LinkedIn

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.

The CPG’s Guide to AI

Empowering Consumer Brands with Clear and Actionable AI Insights

Research confirms leading consumer brands who harness the value of consumer insights and artificial intelligence (AI) better predict the needs of their customers, improve category performance, accelerate growth, and outpace the competition.

72% of executives consider AI as a business advantage

But how can you get started? With data overload, an abundance of options and unclear direction, many companies opt to do nothing. This is no longer an option. You will be left behind. Armed with the right data, AI-driven CPG brands are working hand in hand with their retail partners to better meet consumer demand. By turning mounds of overwhelming data into actionable intelligence, these CPGs are scoring big with retailers and end consumers alike.

In this guide:

  • Demystifying AI
  • How consumer brands can leverage AI today.
  • Top 5 AI/ML Use Cases in CPG
  • Going beyond Power BI and advanced analytics
  • Making the case for AI in your organization
  • Top questions to ask for a fruitful AI journey

Harness the power of AI to ensure you have the right products on the right shelves at the right time. Download this guide to begin your AI journey toward becoming an AI-driven, category-leading consumer brand.

Download Guide

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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.