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5 Highlights From the IRI Growth Summit

How customization—in marketing, advertising and consumer reach—will drive future retail

WASHINGTON -- Just by speeding up the time it takes to upload its web pages, Wal-Mart experienced online sales lifts of up to 2% for each second it shaved off. IRI president and CEO Andrew Appel

Hotel chain Red Roof Inn launched a mobile ad campaign for passengers stranded at airports near its hotels and saw a 60% increase in bookings at hotels near those airports.

Cosmetics line L’Oreal created a mobile app called MakeupGenius that invites users to share a selfie and then captures 64 data points about the user's face. The app then follows up with enhancement suggestions the user can purchase on the spot.

This is the power of the digital world, where in just a minute’s time 140 million emails will be sent and 400 hours of video will be uploaded on YouTube.

“The data never sleeps,” said Julie Krueger, director of U.S. retail for Google. “We don’t go online anymore. We are always online.”

Krueger was among a list of riveting speakers who spoke before 1,200 retailers and consumer-pacakged-goods (CPG) companies during the IRI Growth Summit 2016 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center near Washington, D.C.

Among other highlights:

Chaos of information: “Imagine a world where everyone is communicating via a chat platform,” said IRI president and CEO Andrew Appel. Mobile communication will become the new currency, he said, pointing out that Facebook enjoys 1.5 billion users and YouTube has 1 billion. In comparison, the most widely watched TV event in recent years was Katy Perry’s performance at the Super Bowl, which drew 118.5 million.

IRI is developing a complex loop of analytics that aspires to real-time data that will allow a supplier to identify an opportunity, create a mobile app and direct it to a targeted audience—all within days. Gone will be months of consumer studies and marketing back-and-forth.

“[In] the next five years, we’re going to see a massive shift on how you create demand in what you sell and how you fulfill that demand,” Appel said. “We’re heading toward a place of individualization.”

Level playing field: Until now, larger companies had enjoyed significant advantages by leveraging scale. But the definition is shifting from size to customer analytics. “Smaller companies are outgrowing larger companies at a faster pace” because of their embrace of new forms of data, Appel said.

Throw out your TV: In an expletive-filled, passionate presentation, investor and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk castigated companies that continue to rely on TV and other traditional media to market their goods. “We believe in tried and true,” he said with obvious derision. “I’m blown away by the romance. … Wake up and start respecting that it’s 2016.”

Put another way, he said, if there are more followers on Facebook than on TV, why not save the big bucks and shift more marketing dollars to Facebook, different chat applications and Twitter? “You’re throwing good money directly in the trash,” he said.

Diversity: Geri Yoshioka, director of disruptive innovation and strategy for ConAgra Foods, underscored the ongoing growth of diversity in the United States, both racially and by gender indentity. “Diversity has reached a tipping point in America,” she said. So community in a simplistic black-and-white world is obsolete and is preaching exclusively to the traditional father-and-mother household.

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