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LAS VEGAS — No longer will the SymphonyIRI Group crunch data for the betterment of consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies everywhere, the company's president and CEO Andrew Appel told a packed conference room at the data aggregator's 2013 Summit here.
At least not as SymphonyIRI Group. Appel announced that the Chicago-based firm will be rebranded IRi. "IRi is back!" Appel exclaimed. "Activating your growth engine is our mission and why we are here," he said. "We aim to become the best company in the world in guiding [CPG] growth."
Companies that can be fast and nimble in going to market, fueled by real-time, fluid data are the companies that will succeed going forward. And the newly branded IRi aims to help its clients realize that growth. In fact, that was the conference theme: "Activate Your Growth Engine."
Traditional sales data captured at the point of sale still will be relevant, but marketers who can bring those data points to life through data cultivated beyond the checkstand will be enabled to drive the most growth. "Digital and social media continue to explode and influence a customer's path to purchase," Appel said. "Each of these touchpoints are just another opportunity," he said, to influence the purchase decision, another opportunity to convert a high-value shopper into a loyal consumer.
"We have an unprecedented opportunity as a group to create clarity out of this chaos and regain control of the conversation," Appel said. "To do this we have to evolve. We must evolve market research from being seen as a cost center to being seen as a growth engine." Because harnessing the power of robust, rich and fluid data will separate the winners from the losers over the next five years, Appel added.
As part of IRi's brand transformation, Appel made four promises:
Transform the inside function so that marketers spend "most of our time looking forward proactively" as opposed to looking at historic data to inform reactive decision making;
Deliver growth through a collection of end to end, technology-enabled growth solutions and capabilities that support the marketing core processes. "We will be a leader of big data for growth for CPG.";
Develop analysts over analysis. "Technology is not replacing us," Appel said. "At the end of the day it is the people .. that have to use this data [and] understand the [imperatives] and drive to action."; and
Expand globally. "For many of the companies here today, much of your growth lies outside the [mature markets]," Appel said. "We will expand with you. For us it starts with China." The CPG industry is expected to grow from $8 trillion to $12 trillion in the very near future. China will account for $1.7 trillion out of that $4 trillion growth.
IRi will look to augment its static POS data aggregation with "liquid data," real-time data from a number of sources that can inform real-time decisions. IRi's liquid data capabilities has generated 12 million reports to date, driving an increase performance by five times. The database taps into datapoints from as many as 40 countries. IRi will be rolling out a mobile platform over the next six months. "The liquid modeling platform allows you to drive on-demand analytics," Appel said.
Appel likened IRi's strategy to what Apple has successfully done in creating its robust app business — create a base platform and open the code to other companies. "We, IRi, are open for partnership," Appel announced. "From today forward we will aspire to be a hub of innovation; to be a catalyst [to drive growth]."
IRi recently embarked upon four new partnerships, Appel noted. IRi now is partnered with Boston Consulting Group, one of two leading global strategy firms that will help shape a report on the momentum of CPG companies that are winning in the marketplace." IRi's exclusive data aggregation deal with Costco Wholesale is now being powered by the firm's liquid platform, generating real-time data with sales data from the previous day. The program also has been expanded to Mexico, Appel said.
IRi also partners with convenience channel powerhouse 7-Eleven on what will be the first peek into a convenience operator's marketbasket. That data collection also will be powered by IRi's liquid data platform. IRi also partners with Bluekai, which utilizes a enterprise data activation platform to better understand the impact of marketing both online and offline.
And IRi continues to work with Google on an extensive new pilot on activiation and measurement, linking IRi's POS with Google's geotargeting engine, Appel said.