Sifting Through Mountains of Data To Get Granular With Grupo Bimbo

Antonio Parra CGSM 2021
Antonio Parra at the Consumer Goods Sales & Marketing Summit 2021

Collecting massive amounts of customer and consumer data is one thing. What you do with it, how you use it to increase, enhance, and understand your relationship with your customers and consumers is a wholly different — and constantly evolving — challenge.

Addressing this need for intelligent data analysis and application was Antonio Parra, VP global information and digital transformation for Grupo Bimbo, the Mexico City-based food conglomerate, in his Consumer Goods Sales & Marketing Summit session this week, "Getting More Granular to Create Meaningful Experiences."

"Having the data is absolutely meaningless unless you know how to use it [and] you have capable people of doing it," Parra said, noting that he sometimes regrets having shared his personal information with certain companies and individuals that have really abused it.

“They’re contacting me continuously with things that are not relevant for me, that I cannot relate to. There’s no intelligence behind it,” he said. “They just have millions of contact emails, phone numbers. It’s just eroding and destroying trust. It is destroying engagement."

But consumer goods companies that invest in analytics — more specifically artificial intelligence — have the benefit of being to create more granularity around customer and consumer insights and interactions, preventing the simple mass of data becoming so overwhelming that it either goes unused or, worse, badly used.

[See also: Grupo Bimbo Acquires Popcornopolis During Record Q3]

"Everything is connected 24/7, everything is recorded and correlated in a way … we couldn’t imagine in the past," Parra noted. "From those correlations, we’re gaining significant knowledge, things we didn’t think of, things that apparently didn’t make sense. And those correlations are driving different decisions on how we are going to be and how we are actually connecting with our customers and consumers.”

Facing a data-driven approach requires not merely accepting but embracing the change business modeling analytics brings. But, as Parra admitted, an ability to embrace change can be determined by the market in which your company operates.

"Developed [markets] are more comfortable or used to just being successful," Parra said. "They have an appetite for change and transformation usually less than emerging markets. With the right level of leadership, then we find the sweet spot and we make it happen, but that’s definitely a cultural thing that we need to tackle."

Embracing change means companies need to get used to listening not only to their customers and consumers but to what the data tells them.  No matter large or small, the most successful companies must not be afraid to test the data for specific customer or consumer groups before dismissing it.

[See also: Bimbo Bakeries USA Taps Into Consumer Cravings With DTC Site]

"We want that AI to take over, to tackle it, because otherwise it’s just a bunch of number crunching and tons of Excels," said Parra, who is also a member of the CGT/RIS Executive Council. "We have conversations backed up by data, and we also have the chance to go and make experiments … to make safe experiments, no-regret experiments. We’re finding most cases when we hear and believe in the data, it’s usually right."

Determining who should own this continually mounting mass of data — as well as who can access it — are questions every consumer goods company is grappling with.

"We have two different positions," Parra explains. "One that says we want everybody to have access to every single piece of data, and one says we have to be careful and just reduce and restrict the access to the data … Understanding that risk management will give a profile hopefully more open than closed, but sometimes, if there’s a level of discomfort with the owner of the data, we start with a closed approach and we open it as quickly as possible. There is not a clear answer. There is an answer for you today, and hopefully it will change tomorrow."

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