We did not set Vesta up with the idea of generating game-changing data sets to help our customers innovate – it just turned out that way (if that’s not the best Startup humblebrag of 2021, I really do want to see it). Our ultimate objective was to provide enough data about the supply chain to improve efficiency and eliminate the need for plastic. Absurd humblebragging aside, we really didn’t think what could happen if companies knew who had their products, how they used them and how much they had left.
We outlined the core elements of data-enabled services in the last blog, but will discuss these in a bit more detail here:
Personalisation at scale. FMCG/CPG have been talking personalisation for as long as I’ve worked in this space and like 99% of innovation in this space it was really talking about digital marketing. Or in other how to serve ads targeted to demographically defined groups of people. What we’re talking about here is an evolution beyond that. Offering services defined by a deep and behavioural understanding of interaction with your products. Do they use a lot of chili when they cook? Are they heavy-handed with the fabric softener? Have they been using a lot more moisturiser when the weather has been cold? The objective in a Vesta-enabled world is no longer to simply stay front of mind when someone is walking around the supermarket. It becomes about helping people to get the best of your products for them.
Adherence and support. We had a relatively recent brief from a group talking about immune-suppressant drugs prior to transplant. Putting Vesta into this supply chain helps remind people to take the right amount, and provides the medical professionals with data to assure themselves that the chance of rejection is minimised. It provides insurance companies with confidence to underwrite the process. When we think about other treatments, especially for chronic conditions, the potential is seemingly limitless.
Efficiency. We talk about efficiency in supply chains, but what about with products themselves? What do you do with the last bit in the bottle? When will my product be out of date? Do I even want more of this? Vesta targeted removing waste in the supply chain, but we’ve already seen we can go further. We helped a trialist understand they could save electricity costs AND CO2 emissions by using their dishwasher later in the day.
I hope this series has been interesting and that it might spark some more ideas. If any of those ideas would benefit from a conversation with Vesta, please get in touch through our contact page or direct through LinkedIn.
Vesta Smart Packaging will tell you who your customers are, how they use your product and how you can build a relationship with them. This is part 1 of a 3 part blog explaining how we can help the environment while also improving your business performance.
In case people have missed it, there was a high-profile election last week. Many things have come up in the fallout of that election, not least that yet again the polls were a long way off.
Biden was projected to win by 8-9%, yet it appears that the actual lead will be around half that. US polling agencies spend a FORTUNE getting people to say who they’ll vote for and once again, as happened in 2016, we see that simply asking people what they’re going to do is not the most effective way of predicting what they will do.
A little context before I go further: I have spent a significant proportion of my professional life involved in research. Primary, secondary and digital research have been major parts of my consulting career. I’ve got a lot of love for research and think that when done properly it can be a superb tool, but times are changing. Over the last decade the disappearance of the phone as a primary communications channel has complicated research design. If you look at the activities of some of the more technologically savvy politicians (see AOC’s appearance on Twitch), it should be obvious that a research approach needs to evolve to meet the reality of voters.
Manufacturers also spend heavily on research, and with good reason. What smell, texture or flavour do customers like? What kind of design do they favour? What price will they pay?
These are all good questions, and deserving of investment, but is this falling into the same trap as the election polling questions? Is simply asking people the best we can do? Back when I was working as a consultant and researcher, my team developed an NLP approach to segment conversations on review sites to try and get feedback for our brands very cheaply. We were able to take thousands of review scores and programmatically translate them into themes to communicate back to the brands. That was an improvement certainly, but Vesta takes this one further. We measure what amount of a product people have and use in order to make sure they don’t run out. But this data provides much, much more than just when to send a refill. What time of day is the product used? Is it used more when it rains? After an advert on TV? Does an uptick in usage tell us something? Does a cessation of usage tell us something?
The bad news for brands is that a more complex communications environment is going to make understanding people more difficult. One data source will not answer every question and we must evolve research strategies to match. The good news is that for product manufacturers who have never had an easy path to understanding their customers, Vesta Smart Packaging provides a brand new data source to help them deliver an experience their end users will truly value.
Get in touch to find out more – you might find that trialling with us is a more productive use of a research budget than putting another poll in the field.
There’s more than one kind of smart, but the key to sustainability in packaging is value. This week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Smart Packaging 2019 conference in Hamburg. This was thanks to the kind people at AMI, following an introduction by Ophelie Gourdou at Cairn Consulting. It was an engaging and well-attended conference, with an innovative format including a mini-showcase at the end of day one. This was a great way to keep the audience actively engaged when they had half an eye on the cocktail reception.
I confess I did not know what to expect. We have researched potential competitors, but from years as an analyst, I know that active engagement is really the only way to understand what’s going on under the skin of an industry, and this was our first real chance to spend some time talking to others who are innovating.
I came back with two main conclusions.
Firstly, the smarts going into smart packaging are INCREDIBLY varied. Everything from advanced and highly flexible tracking and provenance services, to connected devices, to chemical engineering that stops food from spoiling (on a small sticky label no less!). I was pleased to present the Vesta solution following an industry introduction from Tim Paridaens of Delloite. One of his slides showed a conceptual model of automated refill ordering packaging of exactly the kind Vesta makes, which is a reassuring sign that the solution we’ve been building for 18 months is beginning to enter the popular consciousness.
The second is broader, but covers something fundamental. There is a clear paradigm shift around packaging, from a view that cost is absolute and must be reduced, to an understanding that cost and value can be balanced. It’s this which gives me great hope that the economic philosophy behind Vesta’s mission – that we don’t throw away things we value– is on a solid footing. By making the vehicles in which our products move and function an essential part of the value of the products themselves, we should start to see a rapid move away from single use disposable behaviours. This is cause for hope.
Thanks to all at AMI for a thought-provoking couple of days!