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07/05/2022

Kroger, Kimberly-Clark, Estee Lauder: Tapping a Customer-Centric Approach to Data

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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Left to right: Kalindi Mehta, VP, Consumer Foresight and Predictive Analytics, The Estee Lauder Companies; Jamie Lancaster, Vice President, The Kroger Co.; Josh Blacksmith, Senior Director, Global Consumer Relationships & Engagement, Kimberly-Clark

Having a truly consumer-centric approach to data changes how consumer goods (CG) companies and retailers operate.

During this year’s Analytics Unite event, held in-person June 21-23 in Chicago, CG and retail executives came together to discuss this idea in the closing keynote presentation, “Setting the Pace for Change with a Consumer-Centric Approach to Data.” The panel, moderated by Kalindi Mehta, VP, consumer foresight and predictive analytics, The Estee Lauder Companies, discussed digital transformation journeys and how to pinpoint winning strategies and technologies.

“Through digital and through new data sets that have become available in last three to five years, we now have the ability to say it doesn’t matter to us necessarily where [consumers] buy, as long as they buy our products,” said Josh Blacksmith, senior director, global consumer relationships and engagement, Kimberly-Clark. “That’s the mindset we have to have in terms of being customer centric.”

Blacksmith said Kimberly-Clark must think about the role every channel might play. Looking at things through a consumer centric lens, CGs know consumers shop different retailers, but companies need to ask “how do we make sure they are buying us on every occasion?”

Jamie Lancaster, vice president, The Kroger Co., thinks differently. “I don’t care what product you buy, as long as you buy it from us,” he followed. Yet Lancaster noted that there’s competition even within the store, as they sell corporate brands and private labels.

“I believe, even in the competitive community, we need to work together in many ways to make it better for the customer," he noted. "We’re competitive with other retailers, but in social media for example, we partner many times and that’s important because it helps us, it helps society. The relationship with the CPGs is the same way, it’s synergistic.”

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Blacksmith noted having transactional consumer data in front of them changes the marketing model. With receipt scans data for example, he said they are able to see the customer on a one-to-one level and it changes the game. They can see someone with allergy medicine in their basket and market Kleenex to them.

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The crowd watches at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, during Analytics Unite 2022.

Lancaster commented that his company is looking for data indicators that will tell them what customers feel is a differentiator, so they know what to focus on and “it’s constantly changing.” For example, their fuel program was a huge deal, then it dipped, but gas prices went up and now it’s a big deal again. But it has evolved a lot over the years.

Mehta agreed that what’s important to consumers is changing every hour, every day. “Having a team structure and dedicated resources that are focused on indicating the sources and pulling out the insights is going to be super important as we go along,” she said. “Otherwise, we’ll never really know what the consumer really wants.”

Blacksmith agreed and noted Kimberly-Clark had to stand up an actual dedicated team. “We were incredibly insight heavy, but activation poor.” He added, get something into the market and if it doesn’t win kill it and move on. But if it does win, leverage automation so every time that signal hits it’s ready to go.

For more insights from Analytics Unite click here.