CPGs, retailers get in tune with SymphonyIRI at Annual Summit

SAN ANTONIO —The company formerly known as Information Resources Inc. kicked off its annual CPG & Retail Summit here last month with major news: Its new name is SymphonyIRI Group.

The move was made to reflect “the expansion of our mission to include a variety of next-generation, growthdriving solutions…to enable your companies for growth despite the macroeconomic circumstances in which we find ourselves,” SymphonyIRI Group chairman Romesh Wadhwani told summit attendees during the opening business session.

The company also announced the launch of a family of solutions for predictive, automated analytics, technology platforms and strategic consulting services. At the heart of these new capabilities is the Advantage Solutions suite, which is built on the IRI Liquid Data platform.

Much of the discussion during the two-day summit, which was held March 23 to 24, revolved around “driving growth in a slow-growth world,” as Wadhwani noted in his opening comments, with the overarching theme of “Insight-Innovation-Impact.” The speakers and presentations that followed largely focused on initiatives led by key retailers and vendors that took important insights about consumer behavior and created innovative strategies to impact growth “at a time of unprecedented change,” noted SymphonyIRI president of global innovation and strategy Thom Blischok, who served as the official host of the event.

Among the many speakers was Delhaize America CEO Rick Anicetti, who talked about the evolution of Food Lion from the one-size-fits-all approach to building and merchandising its stores in the ’70s and ’80s, to the more segmented approach it has in place today. The company is using cutting-edge technology to learn how its customers shop, and using those learnings to drive the changes in its stores. Specifically, in two lab stores, Food Lion has more than 120 overlapping cameras set up throughout the store to capture customers’ shopping patterns and behavior from the moment they enter the store all the way through to checkout. The store labs have delivered a level of insight the company can’t find anywhere else. “Loyalty card data will not tell me which aisle the customer went down and whether they made the transaction they intended to or not,” Anicetti said.

Another key highlight of the show was a panel discussion of influential “millennial” shoppers (young adults, ages 20 to 30 years), moderated by Blischok. The panelists, all of whom hosted high-trafficked blog sites, each boasting roughly 1,000 followers or more, talked about how millennials are using the Web, social media and mobile-based technologies to support their purchasing decisions and influence thousands of other young consumers.

For more on the 2010 SymphonyIRI Summit, log on to CPGSummit.com/HOME.aspx.

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