Partner Conversations: AWS & Treasure Data on Customer Data Strategies for CPG
The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruption, and in a matter of days, our world turned upside down. As shelter-in-place lockdowns, mask mandates, and social-distancing rules took hold, new patterns of shopping quickly emerged. Arguably, no other industry felt the dramatic impact of the pandemic more than consumer packaged goods (CPG). However, leaders are forging ahead with resilience, tenacity, and innovation. We’re engaging in conversations with executives from AWS CPG Partners to hear their thoughts on leadership and innovation as they manage through this disruption and beyond. We hope you enjoy our blog series. If you have questions or suggestions, please post a comment.
As we continue our blog series, “CPG Partner Conversations: Leadership During Unprecedented Disruption,” we chatted with Tom Treanor, CMO at Treasure Data. The company offers a sophisticated cloud-based customer data platform that helps the world’s most recognizable brands collect and understand data to transform their businesses and create innovative, new customer experiences.
AWS: Help our readers understand your vantage point. What’s the space you play in, and with what type of CPG executives does Treasure Data interact?
Tom Treanor, CMO, Treasure Data: We’ve built a leading enterprise Customer Data Platform (CDP) that runs on AWS. And, we’re fortunate to have more than 15 of the top 100 global CPG companies as Treasure Data clients, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Shiseido, Kirin Group, Lion Corp., and Mattel.
Recently, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in interest for our CDP among CPG executives. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), directors of digital marketing, and senior technology leadership, such as CTOs and CIOs, are all interested in accelerating digital transformation at their companies.
Our team at Treasure Data, together with our top global partners, including Accenture, Acxiom, and Dentsu, is focused on delivering outsized marketing business outcomes to our CPG clients. Broadly speaking, those outcomes fall into two categories: revenue and return on marketing investment (ROMI). With these underlying building blocks, we help our clients create transformation.
AWS: CPG companies have been managing through unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges for your customers?
Tom Treanor: The most fundamental challenge facing CPG companies is finding a way to get a direct understanding of their consumers. They need to collect and unify customer data so they can successfully target, segment, and personalize customer journeys based on each individual’s consumer behavior. Even before the pandemic, the CPG industry was undergoing its largest transformation in decades. Consumer priorities were shifting to more sustainable, environmentally friendly brands, and the rise of digital native brands were moving consumers to buy online. COVID-19 forced CPGs to accelerate their digital transformation at an incredible pace or lose their consumers to competitors that adapted more quickly. Those CPGs who’ve adapted are using data to stay in touch with consumers, understand behaviors, personalize user journeys, and meet customer needs.
AWS: How do you see CPG firms adjusting their current operating environments to changing market dynamics and consumer expectations?
Tom Treanor: There’s still a lot of disruption to come, not just in marketing and sales, but in supply chains and even product design. The key to successfully managing market changes is using customer data to establish and maintain direct consumer connections. Our CPG customers connect information from more than 170 different platforms and data sources using our CDP. On our platform, this data is unified to create individual profiles, which are essential for data-driven marketing and personalization.
For example, prior to the pandemic, Anheuser-Busch InBev was already using our CDP and analytics to understand its beverage consumers. So when COVID-19 forced store closings and short hours in Central and South America, Anheuser-Busch InBev quickly set up a mobile app for the Colombian market that told consumers where they could buy its beverages.
Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Global IT Marketing Technology manager Lucas Borges described the app in a recent webinar on digital transformation. The mobile app also became a way of collecting new consumer data, which was enriched on the Treasure Data CDP with ecommerce and logistics data for predictive scoring, segmentation, and real-time, targeted customer experiences (CX).
AWS: The CPG industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward the new normal, what role does technology and the cloud play for CPGs? How do you see technology enhancing the way CPGs make, move, or market their products?
Tom Treanor: In 2020, we saw that the CPG winners are the one that can quickly pivot no matter how big the organization. The days of long, drawn-out projects that take many years to start—and slow down an organization’s digital transformation—are over.
For companies to operate at rapid speeds to overcome changes like the pandemic requires cloud platforms that can keep pace with the pace of change. Clearly, cloud-based infrastructure and solutions are a critical component to this approach.
CPGs also need to leverage marketing processes that build trust, ensure continued relevance, and successfully use customer data. This requires advanced marketing technology, or martech, for data unification, predictive analytics, machine learning, and digital activation.
AWS: With the current CPG industry disruption, how is your company innovating to respond to changes?
Tom Treanor: The volatility that disrupted supply chains in 2020 required CPG innovators to rapidly respond and adapt their product portfolios and distribution networks. For 2021, innovators need to get ahead of a similar seismic shift, but this time, in the demand chain.
For example, Treasure Data helped a home-care products manufacturer integrate its siloed consumer data, apply advanced analytics, and use those insights to detect shifting (but unspoken) consumer needs to drive profitability across its marketing functions. This ability to move from user surveys and panels to real-time digital analyses helps our customers innovate faster and sense trends that previously would not have been possible to detect quickly enough to make a difference.
AWS: There is much talk about a “new normal” going forward. What does this “new normal” look like to you, and how do you think the CPG industry will look three years from now?
Tom Treanor: As the barriers of entry have reduced for new brands—from product development to demand generation to distribution—I see a continued increase in niche brands that satisfy a specific consumer need or want. There will still be large, global brands, but there will be a much larger “long tail” of brands, many with significant size and scale.
Consumers will expect that they can buy products at any time, from anywhere. “Anywhere Commerce” will be the norm, and CPGs will need to integrate into this new customer journey.
As CPGs continue to move into direct-to-consumer (DTC) models, they will begin to resemble retailers in some limited ways. As retailer margins continue to come under pressure, there will be a continued expansion of private labeling, thus blurring the line between retailer and manufacturer.
Having unified customer data, real-time personalization, and data analytics will become an even greater competitive advantage.
AWS: What makes you excited for the future of CPG?
Tom Treanor: There have been substantial shifts in demand drivers, most notably in the areas of health—both in terms of human health and the health of the planet. CPG products are at the core of both of these changes, and I believe that through a deeper understanding of consumer behaviors and emotions, combined with forward-thinking social responsibility policies and practices, CPGs can make a very meaningful contribution to society and the planet.
I am also excited about the ability of CPGs to address consumers’ needs at a micro-segment level. For years we have talked about the possibility of a “segment of one,” but the ability to deliver at scale was beyond our technological reach. Now, advances in cloud computing, machine learning, and data analytics bring that possibility closer to reality. We are close to CPG companies truly knowing each individual—think of what that can mean for deeper, trust-based relationships with the brands you love.
AWS: Thanks for chatting with us, Tom. We appreciate your insights and expertise.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared on AWS’s blog as part of its series, “CPG Partner Conversations: Leadership During Unprecedented Disruption.” You can view the original article here.