Marketing for the food & beverage industry is not easy. Keeping up with changing consumer concerns and shifting modes of engagement, while also complying with industry regulations leaves many marketing managers scrambling. Last year, your customers were buying “low fat” products, today they want the least amount of sugar. Your customers who once shopped exclusively in store, now only order for delivery (Thanks, Amazon). Keeping up with buyer’s beliefs and diet ideas is not easy.
Big Data to Big Insights
How can you accomplish this? Your key to success is also your barrier: Data. According to KPMG’s Food, Drink, and Consumer Goods Industry Outlook Survey, “by harnessing big data...Food and beverage companies are capturing granular customer insights at great scale and speed in order to increase the relevance and value of their product portfolios, assess opportunities, enhance innovation, and speed time to market. Modern big data platforms are becoming more commonplace in the industry. These powerful tools can handle the analytical workload of huge amounts of complex and fast-moving data.”
Food and beverage companies typically have multiple brands to manage, each generating innumerable data points across thousands of retail outlets, both online and off. These points tell you more than purchase history. With the right curation and analysis, this data can tell the story of a customer’s life through—the food they consume. With clean, complete, and unified data (and a little help from AI), you have the power to understand not just what your customers want, but also which promotions and offers are best, when to send them, and what channels of engagement they prefer now and in the future. Imagine if you could predict diet changes before a purchase is even made? This is possible with A.I. powered customer insights that are constantly seeking patterns in your data, no matter the data source.
One key to successful consumer relations is a strong loyalty program. In fact, 76% of consumers believe that “any credible retail chain” must have a loyalty program in place, and would be “very reluctant” to hand over their data to a company without one. Loyalty programs are a win-win in that they provide consumers with a level of trust, and also give companies the data they need for deeper insights. As the owner of this information, you have access to a nearly limitless playground of data, optimization and testing as you implement new programs, discounts, triggers etc. to your loyalty base. Your loyalty programs can become a self feeding loop as savvy promotions drive further purchasing and engagement which give even better data to present more relevant and timely promotions. Taking advantage of this feedback loop, however, can be difficult using traditional ad hoc data science approaches. A large enterprise F&B company has too much data to be effectively leveraged in this way.
A.I. Customer Analytics Get Results
A popular way to characterize data usage is the three D’s paradigm: Data, Decision, and Delivery. When collecting data, quality and completeness is paramount in order to give effective and reliable metrics. Once a reliable metric has been established, analysis and decision making needs to take place. Trends like customer-product affinity, for example, can be used to find at risk customers for churn.
The final step is delivery to the identified segments and cohorts through outreach and promotion. This stage requires the a genuine approach, which is why human to human outreach is still the most effective strategy. Companies need to move through this cycle of data collection, decision making, and delivery quickly and accurately in order to resonate with their ever-changing customers and optimize their loyalty rewards and promotions.
To achieve this, there are two key things a business must do—and do well:
- De-silo, and unify your data. In this way you can create a comprehensive and integrated view of your customers and clients across all touch points, even enriching this data with third party information that goes beyond what they provide you themselves
- Leverage that clean and complete data to conduct deep analysis and draw correlations between thousands of data points. In this way you can analyze and predict the behaviors that are most important to your business. Things like churn likelihood, propensity to certain products (cross-sell potential), and more
Here’s where an AI engine can help. Implementing Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning enables the creation of systems that are both smart and adaptive enough to solve problems faster and better than a human ever could. This requires a Dynamic Data Engine (DDE) and an Embedded Analytics Engine (EAE).
To have a comprehensive view of your customers, you need to unify data across all sources: online, mobile, in store etc. A DDE can identify, cleanse, unify, and enrich this data in real time, and for each individual customer. Once this has been done, an EAE uses the curated data to predict customer behavior. It can tell you, for example, that people who purchase your pumpkin flavored products in the fall are less likely to be interested in your peppermint ones in the winter, but more likely consume gingerbread. It can also show you exactly who these people are, and suggest offers and promotions most likely to keep them loyal to your brand.
AI has the power and the speed to take care of the first two D’s (data and decision) quickly and well, with little human oversight after the initial training. The power of these systems lies in their flexibility. With the data you already possess, they can find the signals your customers are sending, and suggest the right time and way to create meaningful engagement. This frees up your time and energy to focus on “Delivery”.
Where does ZyloTech Come In?
It’s no secret that engagement is tough and competition is fierce. If your business can act faster, with more accuracy, and in line with customer needs, you will have a technological competitive advantage in the food and beverage industry. Sometimes all it takes to win a customer's loyalty is the right coupon, or the right promotion, at the right time.
Using the ZyloTech platform, companies have leveraged years of data on millions of customers to drive revenue and increase retention. Among other things, our users have seen 200% overachievement in retention, 4x increase in overall lift/LTV, and 35% reduction in customer churn.