Curating Actionable Data with AI-Image Recognition

"Every Hand is a Winner" - The Gambler

“Every Gambler knows, the secret to survival is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep”

The CPG industry is not known for taking many risks, especially if you for an industry stalworth such as @Unilever, @Coca-Cola, @Smuckers or @P&G.  We are risk averse, choosing to leverage data to make decisions rather than relying on “gut feel”.  The sources of data available to the CPG industry is daunting.  Syndicated sales data, panel data, shopper data, basket data, pricing data, market data, demographic data…  We are drowning in data.  Rather than all this data delivering a clear actionable picture, we often get paralyzed by it, caught in the undertow of “devil’s advocate” questioning.  Rather than “throw away” un-useful data, we hoard it.

"Go Fish"

What’s the largest sales deck you have ever seen presented to a retailer?  20 slides, 50?  I once “helped” a National Account Manager print an 83-page slide deck before a meeting.  I think we spend over $300 printing these for all attendees.  $300!  The intention, I suspect, was to WOW the customer and his new boss how much he knew about category, our brand, and the retailer.  A proverbial “Information Dump”.  Felt like that prank when you get a paper bag filled with dog sh#$T, light it, set it at the front door and ring the door bell.  (Is that prank real?).  Rather than impressing the customer on all of the information this rep had to share, the customer wanted to stamp it out. (The intention of the prank- too graphic?). What was a winning hand with our brand at the time, turned out to be a losing one.  That $300 cost us millions.

Information vs. Insights

We often lose sight of this difference between these two concepts.  Retailers, Distributors, and Brands need insights FROM the information available.  The industry too often shares information with the HOPE the customer finds the insight.  The information of facts we garner from the data we collect need to move us from the current situation to a solution.  Action! 


I’ve written before about “understanding the situation” with data generated from AI-Image Recognition.  This is great INFORMATION, however, it’s only as good as problems, gaps, or opportunities it outlines from the data that can be actioned.  The winning hand.


I’ve recently been introduced to a cool emerging brand in the RTD hard seltzer category called SAKEBOMB.  Very innovative product that uses Sake wine as it’s alcohol base rather than vodka or malt.  There is a ton of INFORMATION around the RTD Hard Seltzer category that shows facts about the brands competing, who is winning and who is losing.  Nothing about Sake based RTD.  What’s the insight?  Turns out, sake wine (mostly found in sushi and hibachi restaurants) is on fire!  Consumers are “discovering” sake WINE and the unique smooth, sweet taste it delivers.   This insight has led to that “Action” of creating a mainstream product, in a massive category such as RTD Hard Seltzer that capitalizes on this emerging trend.  SAKEBOMB is born!

What kind of hand does AI-Image Recognition deal Brands, Distributors and Retailers?

We might be drowning in data, but more data is better.  More data is important because it can provide the complete picture even if you can’t see what the picture is initially.  Although it might feel like we are playing a game of 52 card pickup rather than Texas Hold’em, we simply need to find tools that help us focus on the real insights that can move toward action.  AI represents both the tool to gather more data and mine for the insights needed to grow sales.

Winning at retail, like poker, requires knowing what information to throw away and what to keep.  What might be the best line in the song “The Gambler” by the late Kenny Rogers…

“Every hand is a winner, every hand a loser.  The best we can hope for is to die in our sleep… and that’s a lesson I can keep”

 Looking forward to seeing all of you at the CMA Association in Las Vegas next year!

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