“Discern or deduce mentally after reflection or from information; understand”

Of the 6 senses we possess (I count intuition as a sense- more on that later), “SEE” is by far the most important.  Our ancestors evolved not by smelling their predators, but by seeing them.  Sure, they might have “heard” a predator lurking in the brush, but to survive- they had to see them.

The same holds true for the CPG industry.  The ability to “SEE” not just how your brands are executed, as in your reflection, but your competition as well, as in your predator.  “SEEING” the category dynamics clearly and without bias are critical in making the RIGHT decisions and recommendations to your company and Retailers.

Traditional tools such as syndicated data, retail audits and shopper focus groups are simply not enough to meet the needs of today where store level, real time, execution data at scale is needed to truly assess the IMPACT of your category decisions.

Source: Pixabay

Retailers continue to “Own their insights”

In the “early days” of Category Management, suppliers held all of the data and insights, Retailers relied on suppliers to provide recommendations based on the data pulled from syndicated data.  The bigger the supplier, the more insights they could invest in delivering to the retailer resulting in more influence.  This influence translated to more face time and eventually “Thought Leadership”.    

Most retailers begin to realize when a supplier partner gets too big or influential and they invite others to the table to “balance the power”.  The savvy, more sophisticated retailers, build their own departments and capabilities to generate insights.   Power went from “balance” to “shift” as Retailers generated insights from their own shoppers.  When Suppliers began to garner more sophisticated insights such as “Path to Purchase” or “Shopper Based Design”, Retailers quickly followed by building their own “labs”.   All of these capabilities diminish a supplier’s ability to establish “Thought Leadership”.

Source: Pixabay

How do Category Managers stay “Ahead” of the “thought leadership” curve?

In a word, Technology.  Specifically, store level data, in real time, is the new frontier for supporting “Thought Leadership” with retail partners.  If Category Managers can bring “What the SHOPPER SEEs” to the retailer, whether this is within their own stores or competitive stores at scale, they now have established the credibility and foundation to reestablish an informed, data driven point of view.  AI- Image recognition is the only tool that can deliver this data set.

Over the next several weeks leading up to the 2022 CMA Conference in Orlando, I will explore how Artificial Intelligence, specifically in the Image Recognition space is the tool Category Managers need to take their Retailer relationships to the next level.  Look out for the following blog titles: “What I wish I had…”, “The Ditch Digger, “Give me more…” and “Needle in the Haystack..” focusing on how AI-Image Recognition can deliver more credible insights for Category Managers.

For more information on AI- Image Recognition, visit or contact Jason DeRienzo at

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