How does a big F&B brand like Cargill tackle customer focus?

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CPG industry leader Cargill is working towards “becoming more than suppliers and more like partners to brands such as Nestle and Mondelez,” says Roy Tharakan, Regional Director for Commercial Excellence at Cargill. 

He explains that B2B brands need to develop a deeper understanding of trends in the consumer space in order to help their B2B clients “win” in the market, or in other words, to experience a higher degree of success in the market. B2B brands must enable customer focus for F&B brands. 

The key driver for increased customer focus

There are many ways to approach customer focus, but rapidly changing food trends need to be identified in order for innovators to create CPG products that align with customer tastes and therefore have a higher chance of selling in the market, according to Tharakan. 

This might sound easy enough to do. Most brands have a budget for market research. The challenge, however, is that food trends are emerging and declining at a faster rate than ever before, impacted by increased awareness and the tremendous influence of social media. An increase in social media conversations around a certain ingredient pushes demand for the ingredient into the spotlight until a new favorite takes over. These trends are sometimes guided by the global environment. For example, our 2021 and 2022 trend reports both saw uptrends in mentions and demand for immunity-boosting foods and beverages due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This was an opportunity, but B2B and B2C brands needed to capitalize on it in time. B2B companies require the ability to forecast trends. This would give them sufficient lead time to respond to the trend and manufacture ingredients for B2C companies, which can launch successful products with that ingredient. AI-powered research and predictive analytics can help B2B companies hone this ability. 

“We help companies with new product innovation by using AI-powered predicted analytics to identify what consumers are going to want next,” Somsubhra GanChoudhari, CEO of Ai Palette, explains. He adds that he has been observing the CPG industry for over a decade. “One of its biggest unsolved problems has always been a 10% to 15% success rate of products – now, by using AI for product planning, the industry can have enough data to change that figure for the better.” 

Adopting AI for predictive analytics – where should companies begin?

Brands like Cargill have found that companies such as Ai Palette – which uses AI-powered predictive analytics to deliver market insights –  can offer a solution that can help them achieve their goals of one: more successful products and two: reduced time to market. 

Working with partners such as Ai Palette helps Cargill be more agile, cost-effective, and innovative, Tharakan explains. 

He offers details on exactly how Cargill’s partnership with Ai Palette helped them to develop better customer focus, quicker time to market and reduced risk. “ Traditional methods of consumer research would take up to two years, but Ai Palette has shortened this process using predictive analysis. Ai Palette uses billions of data points from social media, search data and other sources of data in real-time to identify the emerging and growing trends. This is then incorporated into our solution. This has helped us to look at future trends and has reduced the failure rate in new product innovations”

Ai Palette’s predictive trendspotting tool scans a slew of sources to develop its insights, including social media, food menus, and e-commerce platforms. 

 Considerations when collaborating with AI predictive analytics firms

Cargill’s utilization of AI-powered predictive analytics for better customer focus and reduced time to market was driven by openness and commitment to making the solution deliver the best results possible. “Cargill was open and ready to invest their resources to use AI-powered predictive analytics in order to understand their consumers better,” says GanChoudhari adding that Cargill also provided the right feedback to help Ai Palette align models and algorithms to meet their needs. The lesson in this is that Cargill not only invested capital but also sufficient time and focus in improving the output of the solution that Ai Palette delivered. 

F&B companies looking to adopt AI must enter with a similar mindset because AI is about iteration and perfecting the algorithm until it is able to deliver the results that the company desires. AI and machine learning are often spoken of in the same breath for this very reason – the solution gets smarter with every iteration by learning from feedback. 

Ai Palette is particular about always “bringing the human into the loop.” Supervised learning is important when it comes to a domain like food and beverage because, as GanChoudhari says, “domain understanding is crucial for developing platform features that are relevant to our customers.” Brands looking to adopt AI-based predictive analytics, or AI for product planning, must be aware of this and work with the system to make it better.

When investing in AI-powered predictive analytics for improved customer focus and lower risk, you want to know exactly where on the demand curve you will be hitting the market. For example, a product can not only be late to a market but can also be too early. Your predictive analytics solution or partner should be able to identify if a trend is dormant, emerging, growing, mature or declining.  This is essential so that the pace of manufacturing or production can be managed accordingly, and a product surplus can be avoided as far as possible. 

Conclusion: CPG brands and F&B companies finally have a way to increase a new product’s success in the market. With real-time AI-powered predictive analytics, companies can track the consumer’s changing tastes and launch exactly the product that the market wants, when the market is most keen on it. 

Ready to jump on to the predictive analytics bandwagon? There are several ways that you can get started. For example, you can get insights and change management underway by asking a potential tech partner for a conversation with the experts  (customized to your product category)

Find out more about how Ai Palette’s specialized SaaS platform for CPG can help innovators identify white space opportunities using early trend signals. 

To hear the whole story about Cargill’s customer focus endeavours, watch the webinar “The Deep Tech Revolution”.

 

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