Knowing what consumers will want in future is a dream for businesses, especially in an environment where smaller brands are attacking larger companies “like a shoal of piranhas,” according to a senior PepsiCoexecutive.
Like other food and beverage companies, PepsiCo has been trying to stay relevant to consumers who want to reduce their sugar intake. It is set to buy baked fruit snack company Bare Snacks and has introduced a Hello Goodness vending machine, selling healthier snacks such as Sabra hummus and Sun Chips.
To stay ahead, PepsiCo, which owns Frito-Lay, Tropicana and Mountain Dew among others, has launched a trend predictor to work out what consumers want, before they even know themselves, using machine-learning to understand conversations that are happening online and then applying predictive technology.
Speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France on Thursday, PepsiCo’s Global Insights Director Maneesh Kaushik explained that the company has created a “360 Always On Trend Engine,” developed with consultancy Black Swan Data.
Steve King, chief executive and co-founder of Black Swan Data, said that the company uses machine-learning to “read” what people are saying online, separating it from advertising, bots and other irrelevant information, and making educated assumptions about people such as their age, sex and location.
Black Swan’s machines then scan the data to understand what people are talking about and use predictive models to suggest what will become popular.