The Debate: Challenges and opportunities analytics present to the innovation pipeline

Martha Seidner

Senior manager, global design, Pfizer Consumer Health Global design consultant

How is the use of analytics changing?   martha

It’s changing in real time. There are so many new, disruptive technologies available now that can be deployed immediately to both enhance the customer journey and deliver data that can be applied to innovation and enhance brand experiences.

A few months ago, I attended the Path to Purchase Expo and was exposed to some incredible new ways to deliver brand experiences, capture data and immediately apply that data to actionable results at the point of sale. There was a lot of traffic at the VSBLTY booth and the analytics offered as part of its branded experiences was probably the most unique at the show. VSBLTY developed a “Proactive Digital Display,” which are transparent, interactive, glass panels with motion graphics that can be applied to anything—an end aisle display at Walmart or Walgreens or a cooler or freezer door in a supermarket or convenience store. This could be used for a touch screen in an automotive showroom—maybe for a BMW driving experience, a casino, airport or wall at a retail shopping mall. Brick and mortar retail could definitely use a jolt. Even a doctors’ office where patients can learn about particular drugs or wellness plans. Other medical applications could be consumer engagements with pharma, over-the-counter brand health and fitness brands.

But here’s what was different. This was not merely an interactive display—but was combined with proprietary optics, recording every consumer interaction at the point of sale.  This is not a video recording—rather, the software created a mathematical avatar—in seconds, which captured analytic data, such as number of and type of engagements. This data includes walk-bys, age, gender, dwell time, conversions, lift, etc.

Swiping the messaging took you on a journey that you control, and while doing that, analytics were uploaded in real time, accessible via remote, custom dashboard. Marketers could review data, make amendments to campaigns or promotions and target specific consumer profiles—on the fly. 

While we’ve all seen motion graphics generating high levels of engagement for a several years now, the news here was the data! This technology delivered the analytics “built inside” the brand experience. Seems like a magic bullet for today’s CMOs, who are charged with delivering ROI and rationalizing every marketing spend. Beautiful messaging on glass, delivery to the consumer target and built-in data collection. As someone involved in package design for over 20 years—static in-store media by comparison—this is branding that’s intuitive and “alive.”

How can brands collect better data?

Marketers can start by exploring the technologies that incorporate facial recognition and mood detection.

Think about it. Wouldn’t that be great info to know about your target and those who are engaging with your product? By knowing who with facial recognition, messages can be customized based on mood, age, gender with custom dayparting so you can speak to the person who is actually interacting with your brand. This is all available now, which will very likely become some of the newest tools to deliver the richest brand experiences. With marketers and designers gaining a better understanding of how consumers react and interact with brands, these new technologies will also deliver so much rich data, it will certainly drive better, more innovative and relevant products.

How can marketers and designers become better at collaborating with data scientists? 

Collaboration has always been a key to success between marketer, designer, engineer, insights teams and ultimately consumers. Today, it’s mission-critical. The data miners are just the newest part of the brand experience team.

Tell these scientists and programmers what you are looking for, and they will want to take it a step further. That’s why the technology and analytics will just keep getting better and these things are happening at light speed. We all know our every move is measured, collected and analyzed when we browse online, but this new technology has so many applications where data can be captured and the engagements customized out-of-home—in person, in real time, at the point-of-decision and at almost any venue. The marketer’s goal is to attract, engage and convert consumers and the data scientists provide the tools to collect the critical information from which insights are formed. We need to start looking beyond our laptops and take the invitation for analytics, with insights, to have a seat at the marketing, strategy and product innovation tables. Delivering the best brand experience is all about collaboration and the data guys [and gals] will just make us better at our craft. From the data, the insights facilitate the predictions, which become the basis for the most successful brand campaigns.

How can marketers use data as part of a brand’s storytelling device?

Personalization and customization of messaging is a great way to optimize brand storytelling, and the insights pulled from data have become very personal. Messaging that is relevant to a particular consumer type can be deployed at just the right moment and the messaging can be re-activated uniquely for a particular target.

A big issue regarding analytics is that marketers are so inundated with data—they need the resources to pull out the insights to make intelligent decisions and formulate the strategic plans to make data actionable and profitable. A first step is to determine a data wish list. Answer the question: “If you could have accurate ‘xyz’ data, how would you want to use it in order to meet your brand’s business, marketing and innovation objectives?”

How can business leaders create more opportunities to use data to elevate the way people engage with brands?

By investing in innovative ways to reach audiences and by test-driving the newest technologies available.

So much of this is unknown territory, but by diving in, they will be able to use new tactics, see what works and fine tune quickly. With analytics, I believe that marketing ROI will become more focused. Being able to measure the success of a campaign or change it to optimize what’s working is critical in-store. Business leaders will naturally create more opportunities because they will be able to prove that using the data to both formulate and measure campaigns, worked. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Using data and analytics will create tremendous business opportunities for creative agencies and innovation firms, particularly those with core competencies in product development, interactive motion graphics, video, mobile, etc. When analytics supports the strategy and proves its own ROI, brand owners will see that it pays for itself. The budgets for innovation and data backed out-of-home campaigns will sky rocket.


Elizabeth Johnson

elizabeth johnsonCEO, Pathformance Digital Shopper Marketing

How is the use of analytics for delivering better products and more innovative brand experiences changing?

Analytics have always been an important part of a product or brand experience, but I think it is even more critical now to include analytics as there are an ever increasing amount of ways to reach consumers and shoppers that it is very important to know what vehicles and what channels are working.

And the metrics captured are just as important. Are the right KPIs [key performance indicators] being measured? What are we trying to learn? What are our competitors doing? What do consumers want in a product or brand? How do the consumers want to be marketed to?

Leveraging analytics and marketing technology to elevate brand experiences is important to consider, as in today’s marketplace, consumers engage with a brand on many more different levels than in the past. In the past, a brand could control messaging and marketing and product/brand information. Now, consumers are able to interact with a brand multiple ways—social, mobile, online, peers, etc.

How can brands collect better data for use in superior brand experience creation and design?

By partnering with companies like ours, brands can get feedback quickly and then make brand decisions based on the information collected. [Editor’s Note: Pathformance collects real time data about products that can be activated via multiple media channels, from digital to point purchase, from product development to package design, to deliver more effective marketing for brands of all types, including CPG and retail customers.]

For example, most brands launch products based on historical knowledge and data. With the real time data that is available, brands can learn what shoppers want. Example of questions that can be answered in real time include, “Do consumers want a capsule form versus tablet? Do they want cherry flavor or natural? What marketing message is best? Where are shoppers most interested in my brand? What price point?”

Using marketing technology, brands can quickly find answers to critical product and brand issues, instead of launching and potentially failing. 

How can marketers and designers become better at collaborating with data scientists?

As data is becoming more widely available, incorporating data in the entire planning process is crucial in the day and age of overly SKU’d shelves and a myriad of choices available.

How can business leaders create more opportunities to use data to elevate the way people engage with brands?

In order to generate the highest levels of profitability in the future, a brand manufacturer needs to weave data and technology into all aspects of their organization.  This includes:

1. Build direct relationships with consumers including the ability to monitor, learn from, message and personalize on a 1-to-1 basis

2. Deliver omni-channel choice, and facilitate path-to-purchase action minimizing as many forms of buying friction as possible

3. Measure new meaningful metrics that align with corporate goals, such as revenue, profitability, market share, rather than current feeble metrics like impressions, clicks and GRP [gross rating point]

4. Continuously monitor consumer behavior and trends to proactively develop and launch the right new product/extensions, to the right consumers/customers in the right retail channel/stores

5. Build sophisticated mathematical models that can both forecast and react to results seen in trial, repeat, share-shift, and the impact of competitive action in the marketplace

6. Embrace big data to collect, store and leverage minute differences in all aspects of shopper behavior within each market, trade zone, store and even aisle/kiosk

7. Apply artificial intelligence (AI) to real-time activation of specific shoppers for specific SKUs in specific store

 Is there anything else you would like to share on the topic of analytics and innovation?

For CPG brands to stay relevant and successful, being on the forefront of analytics and innovation is critical. Relying on soft metrics, such as likes, impressions, followers, etc., is not enough. Relying on lagging data from retailers and sales data is managing by reaction.

Successful brands leverage real time data to capture what is happening in the moment and assess a course of action to take. This competitive advantage for brands can mean the difference in gaining or losing market share or share of shelf.