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IRI 2018 Summit wrap up: Staying one step ahead

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LAS VEGAS — The IRI 2018 Growth Summit wrapped up this week at the Wynn Las Vegas. The three-day conference (April 16-18) brought together leaders from the world’s top CPG manufacturers, retailers and media agencies, as well as IRI’s extensive partner ecosystem.  The theme of this year’s meeting was 1 Step Ahead and providing attendees with new innovative solutions and thinking.

Here are a few highlights:

The General Session’s kicked off on Tuesday with a lively disruption-focused discussion from IRI president and chief executive officer Andrew Appel. His talk looked at staying one step ahead in an era of rapid change.

Appel said change and disruption in the CPG space continues to accelerate at a dizzying pace. The average tenure of the biggest companies is falling rapidly. “Amazon is looming larger than ever and the other giants are converging by moving into each other’s business. If you want to win in the current market and in the future, not only can you stay still, you have to stay at least one step ahead of everyone else.” Apppel shared specific strategies for how companies and their employees can win. And what IRI is doing to enable client growth and the latest approaches that will help you get there.

Stan Sthanunathan, executive vice president, consumer and market insights at Unilever focused on what the market research industry is doing today and what its needs to do tomorrow to drive improved performance marketing. He also shared some examples from Unilever demonstrating how real-time consumer insights led to growth.

“By 2019 over 80% of businesses will be digital,” said Kevin Turner, vice chairman and senior advisor at Albertsons Cos., during his session on embracing disruption. “The retail industry is undergoing the most rapid transformation in history. As retailers work to create better customer experiences, effectively merge the physical and digital retail worlds and out innovate the competition, they have more opportunities than ever to future-proof their businesses,” he pointed out.

Tuner noted that companies can get out of their own way and not just embrace change, but harness opportunities and power new growth in their organization. “We as an industry must transform to the digital era. The future belongs to the fast. Now is the time to embrace disruption,” he added.

Human centric marketing in a technology driven world featured Eric Reynolds, chief marketing officer at Clorox. He posed the question is brand building dead? “Not so long ago CPG was the place where people came to learn how to build brands. Today, many would argue that large CPG companies are killing their own brands. At the moment that we can finally personalize marketing to consumers it can also feel it has truly lost its humanity.”

Reynolds gave some insightful examples on ways that Clorox has been successfully driving growth by bringing more humanity to marketing and to weave together data and technology with brand purpose and story telling to create more human-centric brands.

The sessions ended with lively anecdotes from best selling author, reality television star and  Skinnygirl’s Bethenny Frankel.

Day 3 began with a light-hearted and inspiring session on innovation featuring noted author Trend Hunter’s Jeremy Gutsche, who looked at the new players in the market and the disruptions that they are causing.

Jennifer Saenz, chief marketing officer, Frito-Lay North America then spoke about the importance of personalization for consumers and their shopping experiences.

“In a world were we have the option to personalize everything our phone aps, what we watch, podcasts are more its important than ever that we use the consumer as the guide to personalize their experiences with a companies brands. As marketers, we must anticipate their wants and needs as their preferences evolve and technology Impacts how they shop.”

Saenz shared how Frito lay uses data to create consumer experiences that they are both personal and frictionless. She showed two recent examples that featured a Cheetos-themed restaurant and a Tostitos promotion with the NFL.

Stuart Aiken, Kroger group vice president and CEO 84.51° also looked at personalization for consumers and their shopping experiences, sharing powerful examples of the connection between Kroger shoppers and employees.

“It’s no secret that customers have more options than ever before where to shop. The retail landscape is fragmented and disruption is happening everyday. It’s a tough market to stay relevant we must truly know our customer and speak to them in way that are not only personalized but also truly personal,” he said.
“We have to inspire and connect with our customers. When you make those connections, you have a customer for life,” he added.


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