LA JOLLA, California – The Digital Food and Beverage conference, which concluded on Tuesday, highlighted ongoing innovation in the F&B category, in addition to evolving marketing technologies.
The gathering left no doubt as to why this is a must-attend event for industry-leading brands.
Renowned brands – including The Coca-Cola Company, Tyson Foods, Mondeléz International, General Mills, Pepsi, Nestlé and many more – graced the two-day event with insightful speeches that captivated the crowd in suburban San Diego.
The exhibitor space was packed with brands, platforms, tools and media partners showcasing the cutting-edge marketing technologies that are driving innovation in the F&B industry. MikMak, Ibotta, Walmart Connect, Roku, Google Cloud, Instacart and more have demonstrated the powerful solutions that are propelling the industry forward.
Event topics covered the impact of AI at every stage of the buying journey, the imperative to adopt multi-channel approaches and leverage first-party data and predictions to stay ahead of the curve. advances in a constantly evolving sector with changing consumer behaviors.
The future of search will be technology-driven, creating holistic, connected brand experiences while remaining human- and solution-oriented, according to speakers Jay Picconatto, head of global e-commerce at General Mills, and Paul Lima , managing partner at Lima Consulting. Driving human understanding through first-party data is critical to successful personalization efforts and effectively connecting with consumers.
Simply put, culture and technology have become the most powerful combined force driving the evolution of the F&B industry.
Leveraging technology to influence F&B culture and understanding the culture to select and adopt the right technology is paramount to capturing consumer attention and engagement.
In Southern California, speakers like Anna Rabaut Schroeder, senior vice president of customer partnerships at Ibotta, emphasized that it is crucial to differentiate between truly beneficial advancements and peripheral noise in the context of emerging technologies.
Retail media has been a significant disruptor, leveraging data-driven efficiency to reach consumers in a buying mindset – a topic covered by speakers like Abhishek Ahluwalia, Global Chief Commerce Officer electronics – Commercial strategy and growth at Mondeléz.
Among all the trends discussed and presented at the show, two areas stand out as the most transformative technology drivers of industry evolution: first-party data and AI.
First-party data, often collected during consumer interactions such as online purchases and loyalty programs, is a goldmine of information. Thanks to “clean rooms”, retailers can share this data with brands while respecting confidentiality. Brands then leverage this data to achieve unprecedented understanding of consumer inclinations. This information is the cornerstone of creating highly personalized experiences, establishing a personal connection with the consumer.
AI technology goes a step further by employing sophisticated algorithms to analyze these colossal data sets in real time. For example, if a consumer frequently purchases organic products, AI can immediately recognize this preference. This information can then be used by brands and retailers to offer targeted promotions or suggest new organic products, encouraging additional engagement and sales.
Additionally, AI’s ability to dynamically segment consumers enables micro-targeted marketing campaigns. It’s no longer just about reaching health-conscious shoppers or those on a budget; it’s about connecting with the “gluten sensitive, environmentally conscious parent.” By being this precise, marketing messages resonate with a level of relevance unthinkable in the past.
Generative AI is a game changer in content generation. By understanding individual preferences, it can create personalized recipes or meal plans for consumers. For example, a mother looking for healthy lunchbox options might receive recipes that not only meet nutritional guidelines, but also meet her child’s tastes. This deepens the engagement between the brand and the consumer.
In-store, AI can be used for dynamic pricing and real-time promotions. Imagine walking into a store and receiving a notification on your mobile device for a discount on your favorite drink, just when you were considering purchasing it. This type of contextual relevance is made possible through intelligent processing of first-party data via AI.
In summary, first-party data provides the foundational insights, while AI acts as the architect that builds highly tailored and responsive strategies. Together, they are leading the food and beverage industry into a future where marketing is not just a function, but an experience meticulously tailored to the individual.
In this new era, personalization is the currency, and data is the money where it is forged.
Editor’s note: Ivonne Kinser is an innovation advisor at The Food Institute. Kinser previously served as head of marketing and innovation at Avocados From Mexico for nearly a decade and in 2023 founded Vantage Creative, a marketing innovation lab.