red pants

Red Pants…. Generating Value Beyond Price with AI

Are you really wearing Red Pants?

I had the distinct pleasure of working for Redbull energy drink for 5 years from 2010-2015.  These were incredible years for the brand.  The Energy Drink category was starting impact traditional Carbonated Soft Drink (CSD) sales and therefore gaining more space- mostly at the expense of Coke and Pepsi.  To defend this growth, the major CSD players created a category story that was meant to slow Red Bull’s growth.  It was common for Redbull to be merchandised on the bottom shelf of a cooler door or in an entirely different category like “New Age Beverage” (Still never understood that subcategory).  These tactics were possible because major CSD players owned the mind share of Beverage Buyers across retail.  They were Category Captains.  Beverage Experts.  Retailers relied on their insights to help them grow their business.  Given the threat to their business , the “Big Guys” in the category either under represented or completely ignored the strong trends coming from the energy category, especially Redbull.

“Own the Narrative”

It was during this time, that myself, along with several other leaders came to Redbull.  We all came with classic beverage or CPG experience, focused on “Owning the narrative” for the energy category and defending Redbull from the recommendations being made by the CSD manufacturers.  We built category and sales teams capable of winning the mind share of our customers.  Armed with investments in syndicated data, unique shopper insights, and path to purchase studies, we quickly earned a seat at the table.  The intention was to establish ourselves as the Energy Category expert.  These insights demonstrated one way Redbull generated value for a Retailer beyond pricing programs.  This work has largely set the foundation for where Redbull sits today across many retailers, next to Coke, Pepsi, InBEV and MillerCoors. 

Value Beyond Price… Helping shoppers navigate a complex shelf during a stressful trip

Are we going to talk about Red Pants?

Throwing data at retailers is not enough.  Let me introduce you to a concept “inspired” by Gallo Wine & Spirits- Red Pants.  The idea is a simple metaphor for standing out.  Fashion notwithstanding, Redbull salespeople and category professionals aspired to stand out with customers by going the extra mile, investing in custom insights and developing unique solutions that help retailers with their business, not just the beverage category.  We might find wearing Red Pants a little off-putting, however, at Red Bull, this was a badge of honor.

I’ve recently been exposed to a “Red Pants” moment in the Drug Channel were a major manufacturer is leveraging AI-Image Recognition and business rules technology to help shoppers during their most vulnerable time in a drug store- buying medicine for your sick child.  When your child is sick, finding the right medicine in a pharmacy section can add anxiety to an already stressful situation.  Imagine, your child has a crazy fever, completely sick, you are out of town, and you are sent to some unfamiliar store to pick up medicine.  Intimidating.  The first decision is usually trying to find the children’s medicine section, then when you get there, there are so many brands, products, sizes, and price points.  Imagine the stress if you can’t read English?  Picking the wrong medicine can either not bring relief or worse, make things worse. 

This is a problem for retailers.  The frustrated shopper either lashes out that the store “Why do they make finding this SOOO HARD?” or store personnel “You can’t help me, what good are you?”.   No one wins in these moments.  Except a vendor that helps the retailer solve these problems.  The one wearing the Red Pants.

Vision Group has teamed up with a major supplier of Upper Respiratory Medicine to develop an instore tool that will help shoppers find the medicine they need on the shelf.  Combing this pharmaceutical company’s tool that matches symptoms to the right product with Vision Group AI-Image Recognition technology, a shopper can enter their child’s symptoms, take a picture of the shelf with their phone, and an AI generated planogram of the shelf will appear highlighting where you should find the medicine.      

This is what “Red Pants” is all about.  This supplier is investing in technology to help a retailer help their shoppers during a moment of need.   In addition to driving purchase, the Retailer benefits from the loyalty and trust they will get from solving a shopper’s problem.   Generating value beyond price.

Ok, where can I find a pair of Red Pants?

For more information on AI- Image Recognition, visit maxerience.com or contact Jason DeRienzo at Jason.derienzo@maxerience.com.

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