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How a first-party data strategy helped Kraft Heinz deliver personalized experiences

August 16, 2022
Giusy Buonfantino

Vice President, Consumer Packaged Goods Industry Solutions, Google Cloud

Katrina Cho

Head of Cloud Partnerships, LiveRamp

Why the right cloud ecosystem can be as important to your data cloud as the data itself

What will it take for consumer packaged goods companies, who are traditionally rather far-removed from the consumer, to be able to build the personalized experiences that most customers have come to expect today? 

As the consumer packaged goods, or CPG, industry embraces more e-commerce engagement and direct-to-consumer experiences, how can companies use first-party data to enrich those initiatives? 

And how can beloved and ubiquitous brands like Kraft Heinz adapt a successful business model, built over many decades, to hold their own against competitors built in the digital age?

The short answer is: CPG companies need to reimagine their customer relationships and deepen engagement by unifying their view of their consumers and driving innovative marketing to them. And achieving these goals requires an enterprise-wide first-party data strategy, as Jason Huertas, lead product manager with Kraft Heinz, outlined at a recent Adweek webinar hosted by LiveRamp and in collaboration with Google Cloud.

If connecting all these threads around customer data, sales, and marketing sounds daunting, it might be more achievable than you think. Here are four key takeaways to explain why.

1. CPGs have an enormous opportunity to become data-rich. Yes, CPG data is distributed by nature, and retrieving it involves a great deal of opacity and complexity. The customer journey involves not just the transaction, but everything that leads up to it. Yet you can take ownership and control of the first-party data assets you do have and make it a home base for your data partnerships with your retailers and media providers. 

Having more proprietary data will empower you to leverage these partnerships to their fullest potential, while also helping to ensure continuity across different use cases. Sure, you can buy third-party data sources in the marketplace, but anyone can do that. Taking control of and activating your own first-party data will be a key competitive advantage—especially as restrictions to third-party data grow.

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2. There is a clear path you can take toward establishing a first-party data strategy.

First, the organization must firmly agree to go on a digital transformation journey. “You need leadership all the way to the top saying, ‘This is a paramount initiative,’” Huertas points out. “Our CEO has made it one of his first priorities. We have key stakeholders involved across all of the brands, as well as owners of the profit-and-loss for the marketing spend and digital spend.”

Next, assess your maturity level as a company when it comes to data management. Ask key questions such as: Do we know where our data is stored?  Do we know the identifiers we’ve been using and how they are being consolidated? Do we understand any governance rules or restrictions that may be involved?

Then, choose your infrastructure wisely. With the proper foundation, you can set your business up to activate your data and deliver innovative consumer experiences built on that data at scale. Many leading CPG companies are now looking to the cloud to take advantage of the agility, flexibility, and scale benefits that it offers to connect and analyze consumer data. Also, look to ensure that your data platform includes an identity infrastructure that enables you to achieve a unified, person-based view, and is safe to use from a data-privacy standpoint. LiveRamp and Google Cloud have a long history of helping CPG customers build and strengthen their customer data platforms. This culminated in January of this year with the expanded availability of LiveRamp’s identity capabilities on Google Cloud, which  help companies build a unified customer view inside their data warehouses using APIs

Finally, it’s time to construct your modern tech stack. Making these decisions is not restricted to IT; there are considerations across every line of business. Be sure you understand what is going on with your data stack decisions across different providers. “You can always rely on your partners to help you do the initial setup and pilots,” Huertes said. “That said, for us, having people on our team—data scientists, data engineers, and cloud engineers—has been a key initiative.”

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3. You can combine knowledge of the consumer with AI and machine learning to see results fast. One of the biggest advantages to getting your data in order in the cloud is that once your data cloud is up and running, you can gain considerable insights and reap significant rewards from that data. And when you have a scalable data infrastructure in place, you might find that AI and machine learning can be quite simple to implement. 

For example, Google Cloud AutoML enables developers to train high-quality custom machine learning models with minimal effort and machine learning expertise. The goal is for you to focus on solving the problems that matter to your company and your industry expertise so you can deliver the best experience possible for your consumers. Your cloud should be able to handle the heavy lifting of data analytics to deliver the insights that will drive your strategy forward.
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4. Your agency, creative and media partners can be your best allies. Bring these partners to the table early in the process and collaborate with them to establish the use case or business problem you want to solve and run a few pilots on your chosen infrastructure. These partners have an outside perspective that can be extremely helpful. Then you can work together with marketing, marketing technology, and brand teams to create something unique and compelling based on your data.

To learn more about how Kraft Heinz developed its innovative, personalized marketing strategies on a foundation of first-party data, you can watch the entire webinar, check out LiveRamp’s coverage, or learn more about LiveRamp’s data connectivity solutions available on the Google Cloud Marketplace.
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