In the media

Unlock a galaxy of opportunity with constellation analytics

Richard Chamier

By Richard Chamier


16 November 2023

Richard Chamier, a data science and strategy expert at PA Consulting, authored an article for InformationWeek sharing ways that CPG firms can use constellation analytics to make insights more powerful, executable, and understandable.

Constant changes in customer and market demand require consumer packaged goods (CPG) firms to constantly innovate, build brand resonance, and invest in enhancing existing products. With product demand and desirability changing almost daily, waiting for competitors to move first isn’t a feasible strategy -- waiting is the same as stagnating. By the time a CPG firm jumps on the bandwagon of a new trend, their competitors will have rocketed forward.

The implication is clear: Be a first mover or get left behind.

Although CPG firms can draw on rich first- and third-party data to help get ahead, they struggle to infuse practical decision-making with data-derived insights. Decisions made by CPG companies are still largely made on human hunches, hypotheses, intuition, and experience, leading to many CPGs struggling with the syndrome of being data rich but insight poor.

The typical approach to data analysis for CPG firms is fragmented rather than connected. When so much data is being created at such an astounding speed, the most meaningful insights reside in the combination and connection of data sources.

Much like mapping constellations in the stars, connecting disparate datasets reveals otherwise unseen patterns and relationships between information. This makes insights more powerful, executable, and understandable. To overcome the data-to-decision disconnect, CPG firms can implement a constellation analytics approach.

A relationship: data, AI, and constellation analytics

Connecting insights through a constellation analytics approach can boost the uniqueness of products and brands, making them more differentiated and meaningful. However, first solving the problem of data integration is a critical step towards unlocking this capability.

AI is of course central to this approach, but recent hype, especially around generative AI, has clouded the argument. To be an intelligent organization in the modern, digitally driven world, the key is not complex artificial models or algorithms. It’s data integration. Constellation analytics equips CPG firms with the ability to join the dots, ask the right questions, and then leverage or use AI to reveal the patterns that connect it all together. The result is a level of insight that is, both broader and deeper, more predictive of future trends, and more effective in informing the right future product and/or service strategy.

How constellation analytics help CPGs become first movers

By adopting a constellation approach to modern day insight and analytics, CPGs can look to automate the processing and ingestion, visualization, and analysis of diverse data sources. The approach also offers greater opportunity for rich visualization and granular data analysis capabilities. This enables marketing R&D teams to rapidly create insights that stem from the connection of data sources describing market dynamics, consumer trends, product claims, requirements, needs spaces, resonate language, pricing bands, market segments, and much more.

This diversity of data and breadth of lens unlocks a greater ability to validate complex hypothesis, and test scenarios. For example, companies can find opportunities for product differentiation through insight on emerging consumer preferences or using the digital voice of the consumer to support product ideation.

So, how can CPG firms put the constellation analytics approach to work? Here are three examples:

Enhancing products

CPG products often fail because brands fail to share how they meet consumer needs in a resonating way. CPG firms can use constellation analytics to drill down into customer needs and goals and find areas where their products are superior. They can then use these insights to uplift messaging, translate text-based insights into imagery or video, or evolve usage instructions.

A global soda beverages company used constellation analytics to better understand the future of the low calorie, carbonated drinks market in the US by analyzing consumer responses to its drinks across conversations, product reviews, and other data points. The marketing team is using these insights and findings to refresh messaging and campaigns, addressing customers’ sensory needs for better flavors and night-time refreshment.

Innovating products

CPG brands can leverage constellation analytics to identify customer "whispers" or new signals of emerging trends. Teams can then use these insights to determine the trends that are the best fit for their company, develop new products, and take them to market before competitors can. Being a first mover enables CPG firms to develop greater brand and product recognition, drive sales, and potentially dominate the market.

A popular yogurt manufacturer, when entering the plant-based dairy market, tapped into constellation analytics to identify new go-to-market opportunities in a fast-moving European market. The manufacturer is now focusing its branding and marketing strategy on new and emerging category trends that constellation analytics helped to identify.

Increasing brand resonance

To develop the most effective products and campaigns, CPG firms know it’s crucial to focus brand and marketing communications on what consumers really care about. Using constellation analytics and tools like generative AI, firms can identify language and value points that resonate, and build targeted campaigns and content around them.

A major food manufacturing company turned to constellation analytics to reframe its sustainability messaging. The firm had tried to make carbon footprint and net zero key to its brand messaging but was struggling to connect with its consumers. By tapping into the online digital conversation, the company could measure and identify the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics that were prominent in the minds of consumers, and the language those consumers used to express their opinions. The company refocused its messaging on these priorities to achieve greater traction and resonance with customers in the complex area of sustainability.

Get started with constellation analytics

Often the best way to learn is to do it. To get started with constellation analytics, CPGs can adopt a data integration mindset. This starts with choosing whether to focus on product extension, innovation, or brand resonance. With easy-to-deploy frameworks like constellation analytics, especially when deployed in tandem with new AI techniques, teams can derive insights that will reshape their business. CPGs that apply a constellation analytics approach now will be at the forefront of innovation. Those that don’t will continue to play catchup.

This article was first published in Information Week

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