Episode 27

How To Win At Retail In The Changing CPG Landscape

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  • What challenges are impacting the CPG decision-makers right now?
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  • How can I convince retail buyers that carrying my brand is worthwhile?
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  • Is there a way to automate content creation to tell stories backed by data?

Hear how brands can “win” in the evolving CPG landscape by combining data with storytelling.

The CPG industry is rapidly changing. Retailers are faced with ongoing challenges, from changing shopper behaviors and labor shortages to supply chain disruptions and beyond.

In his conversation with Tessa Burg, guest Will Salcido shares how we can “win” in the evolving CPG landscape by combining data with storytelling. Hear about what data is important to retail buyers, common stories that sell, how to align with retail strategies and more on this episode of Lead(er) Generation.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Changes affecting the CPG landscape
  • Combining data with storytelling to sell into retail
  • Common CPG sales stories that win over retail buyers
  • Aligning sales pitches with the category strategy at retailers
  • What data is important to retail buyers
  • Automating data analysis and storytelling
  • New opportunities in the changing CPG landscape

Watch the Live Recording

Full Episode Transcript

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    Tessa Burg: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Lead(er) Generation brought to you by Tenlo Radio. I’m your host, Tessa Burg. And today I’m joined by Will Salcido. The Founder and CEO of Bedrock Analytics. Our conversation today is going to center around the changing landscape of CPG. Will, thanks so much for being our guest. We’re excited to have you.

    Will Salcido: Of course, thanks for having me.

    Tessa Burg: So you have a lot of experience in this industry. Tell me a little bit about where have you been and what types of challenges have you seen across the CPG industry up until this point?

    Will Salcido: Sure, a big question. I’ll start with where I’ve been, which is, so my background is in analytics brand management, a little bit of sales. So my background, I started with Novartis, actually Nestlé. Right out of college and then I joined Novartis on the pharmaceutical side, analyzing retail data, Nestlé being one of the largest companies, Novartis a fairly large pharmaceutical company.

    Will Salcido: I was then recruited out to be the first analytical hire at Ghirardelli Chocolate, in California, and there I’d built out a Department of Analysts and we had a lot of success with really telling stories with data, and it was something new to the company. And, you know, it was more of an adaptation to having about 18 salespeople and it was only me for a long while. So I had to figure out, well, how can I help them be analytical if they don’t have, let’s say the tools in place?

    Will Salcido: So I ended up kind of creating a series of stories that they could tell over and over again, that brought data in, in a narrative form. And then eventually I helped automate that to a degree and we were able to win category captaincies at major retailers like Target and Meyer and other places.

    Will Salcido: And then after that, I went overseas for a year to the parent company of Garrett Elliott company called, Lint, out of Switzerland. So from there, I went to 11 different countries and I did the same thing over and over again in a year. So I was in about a month in every country in Europe and I, I got to do the same thing, build systems, interview the CEO of VP Sales, VP Marketing, and then train the sales people on how to use a tool that I had built and also tell these stories with data and then came back and I was in a brand management role then at Ghirardelli.

    Will Salcido: And I really started thinking about just the problem that I had seen over and over again, you know, specifically in 11 countries, just back to back, it’s a pretty unique experience to be able to see 11 different companies, not just countries, but even though the same company, they all have different cultures. And I saw how some struggled with data and others, you know, we’re pretty good at it. And by the time I got back, I just said, hey, this is a bigger problem than what one company is trying to solve with me. So I decided to leave Ghirardelli and start a company. So a little known fact is I always say Fidelity funded Bedrock because I used half of my 401(k).

    Tessa Burg: Oh my gosh.

    Will Salcido: I took a, crazy, I mean. we’ll see if it works out. I bet my wife was like, that’s so crazy, but it’s working out. So that’s good. And yes, I took half of my 401(k) and I started the company. I funded it on my own in the beginning. And I had, you know, I had a co-founder at the time and just built the company out and then eventually raised capital around it.

    Tessa Burg: I really like your journey, right from the start you started in data. And then you made the leap into food. One thing that I think is interesting, or I want to hear more about, how did you recognize the opportunity that storytelling from data could increase sales? That feels like a big leap, especially when you think about sales being such a relationship driven space.

    Will Salcido: Yeah, yeah, good question. You know, it wasn’t like that at Nestlé. Nestlé was just straight facts. Like just, just the number, Novartis similar. Ghirardelli was different. Ghirardelli had a, it was a very tight knit culture, and everyone, you know, at the company, and the way that the company sold was really about the story of Ghirardelli, the chocolate, the history, you know, San Francisco, it was all about the art of chocolate making and the impact that it had on the shelf. How their consumers were different, and I was, I was pretty good at using data to sell.

    Will Salcido: So I would, I was invited to about 150 sales calls with retail buyers, you know, so it was sales person and then it was me and I would, you know, tell the facts, salesperson was talking about the product and marketing programs and all these things. So I got to see 150 sales calls. All back-to-back, almost all retailers I went on. So I noticed in the beginning I tried the Nestlé playbook, which was just go with the data and it didn’t feel, it didn’t feel right next to a story around the product and the brand.

     Will Salcido: So then I started thinking like, well, what if my part is more like a story around the data and that seemed to fit better. And then it was also hard for the, you know, it was only me for awhile be on the analytics side. So the 18 sales people ended up depending on me for a lot of that work. So they would invite me because I would do that, you know, that data set. So they, how could I make their job a little easier? And also how could they take over what I do because I can’t be going on every sales call forever, you know, they had maybe two or three customers. I had somehow all of them. So yeah, so if I could make help them kind of do what they’re doing already with a little bit of data, they were able, they were actually able to take it over and not depend on me to do it. So it was both adaptation. And I, you know, I also didn’t want to have to do everything.

    Tessa Burg: A lot of our clients really rely on like trends and insights as a way to help show that their products solve big challenges and big opportunities. What kind of data were you including in your storytelling to compliment what the sales team was talking about?

    Will Salcido: Sure, you know, I always think about the audience, who is the audience for, whatever message we’re trying to deliver. And I’m sure in your, in your, you know, your audience today, your podcasts, you know, they have their own datasets, but the end audience for us was always a retail buyer. The decision maker was whether or not they’re going to take your product and merchandise it on their shelves for, you know, six months, a year, two years, however long it has success.

    Will Salcido: And there are certain things that they wanted to know. They’re trying to figure out well, if I have, let’s say, it’s the buyer for premium chocolate, let’s stick with Ghirardelli for now, premium chocolate. I have, they, as a buyer have either four feet to maybe 12 feet of space dedicated to premium chocolate. That real estate real estate is very valuable, right? So each inch, you know, basically a bar, a chocolate bar is three inches wide, you know, vertical, so three inches wide. They have to decide what do I do with these slots that I have, right. I can, I can decide to go, you know, 50% of Hershey and then the rest, or I can, I can bring kind of, you know, regional favorites or premium, non-premium, whatever that might be.

    Will Salcido: So we have to convince them that giving us, you know, X amount of inches is a good use of real estate, for X amount of time. And the way you do that is that you show them that you, your brand has success at other places that are similar to their retailer. That’s a really simple one because it’s, they all tend to have FOMO, right? Fear of missing out. Everybody does. It’s just human nature.

    Will Salcido: So you tell them, hey, people that are like you, which are other retailers, are doing this already. And when we are there, we do really well for them. That’s one way, if you don’t have that story, then you say, well, we have a specific consumer group that really likes us. A specific group that this retailer is also trying to court. It might be young parents. It might be, you know, single, you know, singles, or it might be dual income households, whatever that might be, if you can show that and all you need for that as demographic data. You need to know, well, who is your consumer, who is buying your product?

    Will Salcido: Back in the day there wasn’t much direct to consumer data because it was, you know, it was, it was a long time. It was 10 years ago, eight, nine years ago. Now most brands are selling on Shopify and other places. So you have some consumer information, demographic information, just bring that in, a lot of the times, even though you might be a small brand, you have a consumer group that really likes your brand. And if they’re looking for it and if it’s not in that store, they might go somewhere else.

    Will Salcido: So that’s another way to go, which is we have a specific user or consumer group that really likes us. There’s some other ones, but I’ll save that for a little later. Those are more called the dark arts of how you, when you don’t have a good story, what do you do? And that’s a little more complicated.

    Tessa Burg: Okay, so for the simple accessible storylines, showing past success, showing you have a specific consumer group, and really being able to keep that cart purchase there within the store.

    Will Salcido: Correct.

    Tessa Burg: What, how does this sort of help retailer buyers do their job and compare CPG products?

    Will Salcido: Yeah, so, you know, they’re presented with, you know, from 40 to 100 different pitches, right? For a category, a retail buyer, by the way, reviews a category in about a two week period once or twice a year. And they bring, they allow then all new item vendors to come in and an existing vendors to pitch for the real estate. And then they decide what’s going to go in those, you know, the four feet of space or whatever they have.

    Will Salcido: So how they decide is uniqueness. They all have different requirements. Some are, you know, uniqueness, some are really wait more on the margin. So if, if you know, they’ll go with the highest margin products, some are going to go with, well, who’s going to turn the fastest, that’s high velocity items. It all depends on what one, the core, the retail strategy is. And also what your, what the category strategy is within retail.

    Will Salcido: So for instance, like diapers, typically a loss leader, which means it’s going to be the lowest priced products. You’re not gonna make a lot of money, but they bring families in. And those families tend to buy other things that are valuable at a higher margin. So if you’re in the diaper, you know, category, margins are gonna be low. It’s going to be all about high turn. So high velocity items, right? Other categories like premium chocolate, you’re not gonna sell a lot of them, but you’re gonna make more money per unit.

    Will Salcido: So it just depends. You have to, you kind of have to know what that strategy is for the category, and then your products should fit into that. But the one thing that, by the way, trumps all like, you know, the best thing is having high velocities, like it’s hard to get away from that. Everybody wants high velocities.

    Tessa Burg: Yes, I was just gonna say, when I was at American Greetings, I remember getting trained in merchandising and I’m not able to walk down the aisle of Target the same way, you know, just like looking at all the real estate and trying to guess at what was the retailer category strategy here? How and why did this group get the end caps? Is there a way for like small and mid-tier CPG companies today to get that type of insight? Like, what are the retailers really focused on, you know, for this year or for the next couple of years?

    Will Salcido: The insight around getting an end cap or just general insights?

    Tessa Burg: Just general insight around, like, what is the strategy? What are they focusing on? So that I can like show that I deserve this very valuable real estate?

    Will Salcido: Yeah, you know, some retailers are really good about sharing it. For instance, Target will tell you exactly what the focus of the category as a strategy this year, all sorts of documents with you typically as a vendor, other retailers don’t. So you just, the best thing to do is just ask like, Hey, what’s the role of the category within the aisle?

    Will Salcido: Or another way to ask that because that’s something so personal is actually be a little more personal, which is like, hey, what would make your job easier? Like right, as a vendor, what could I do to make your job easier so that you shine within, you know, with the aisle, you know, department division, head, whatever that might be. ‘Cause they all, you know, a category let’s say it’s, I don’t know, pickles will reside under the, the buyer for condiments. And that is then, might be dry goods or canned goods. Depends, I’m not sure where it rolls into.

    Will Salcido: So they all have bosses, right. That they have to report into, and they have to, there are certain things that they’re measured against. It’s always best to ask that, right? What is, what are your incentives? It might not be high velocity. It might be high margin. And you’re like, wow, like maybe we need to figure out what we can do to maybe come up with a family size, right. That has a higher margin, something right. To kind of satisfy that.

    Tessa Burg: So there are a lot of layers to getting on the shelf. You first have to stay true to your product and brand and be aligned with what your customer wants. And then you also need to be able to tell a broader story of how that product and brand has performed in the past, how its customer performs at that specific retailer. And then as you just brought up, it’s very effective to be personally concerned or invested in what is gonna make your buyer successful at their place of business.

    Will Salcido: [Will] Correct.

    Tessa Burg: I feel like those are really universal and would always stand the test of time. Has anything that’s happened in 20 … 2020, 2021, especially with a lot of very big mergers and acquisitions, changed on what sellers need to do to get into retail?

    Will Salcido: Change in 20, 21, I can’t think of anything.

    Tessa Burg: No.

    Will Salcido: I’m kidding. So much has happened. I should have just ended it there, that would be funny. To see what you think.

    Tessa Burg: That would have been great. I would have loved it.

    Will Salcido: No, so there are a lot of changes. So what’s happened right, so we’ve had a pandemic, we’ve had a lot of, you know, an ongoing pandemic. There has been the great resignation, right? This could go on forever if I list all the changes, but major changes like that, inflation, all sorts of things. So supply chain issues right now, it’s getting scary. So all these things are happening, and retail buyers are trying to figure out, well, one, are consumers the same as they were two years ago? And it doesn’t seem like they are, no one really is, everyone’s different.

    Will Salcido: So I think what’s happening, and this is all happening right now, right. Is they’re trying to figure out, well, what are the new strategies? How do we get consumers to buy what we would like them to buy at our stores? Are we even merchandising what they want? Are they coming in to the stores like they were before? Was it, you know, a lot of folks switched to online purchases and that, that is completely, that that brings in a ton of new dynamics where, you know, the things that we can control, I mean, I’m actually speaking we, being a merchandiser, in this right now, is you can’t, you don’t control the real estate as much in a digital world? It’s very easy to switch to say, well, let me go to Walmart.com or let me go to Instacart, let me go here and let me go to Safeway.com or Kroger, vary risk, very easily. Versus when you’re in a store, right. It’s very inconvenient to go 15 minutes to another store if they don’t have what you want.

    Will Salcido: So all of those things are kind of coming into play. So that, that has changed, right? The consumer, and I think what retailers are really looking for are brands that can bring an updated perspective on the consumer and back it up, they have to back it up with data because everyone’s really hungry for that to understand, well, what one? Like, do you know what happened? And then what are we doing to address consumer needs, right. Do you even know your consumer as a brand? How well do you know them? So that’s really important.

    Will Salcido: I think, you know, back years ago, it didn’t really matter so much how much influence you had directly with consumers, with the shoppers. And now it does, because you can bring shoppers to a Stop and Shop or a Kroger, as long as you have a platform to do that. So that’s important. Pricing seems to be, it seems to be right now, a little less important. Some retailers are still on that, but pricing seems to be less important. It’s really more about, well, what’s happening next, supply chain issues are massive. So we’re seeing large retailers just expect more and demand more in terms of forecast accuracy. And then just having more data to back that up, that they can actually deliver the quantities that, that are being negotiated. because, you know, the last thing you want is an out of stock right now. It’s just, you know, consumers. Yeah, they’re not in stores as often, so yeah. Can’t afford it.

    Tessa Burg: Yeah, so you’ve mentioned a few things that are all data dependent, but are really different sets of data, like a new perspective on the consumers. So I have some data on consumers being able to have better insight and predictability around my inventory. So that’s another set of data. Being able to understand and know, and also input what’s important to the buyers and those in charge of merchandising, how are, especially in the small midsize CPG companies, and maybe even at enterprise level size companies, where are they getting this data and how are they consolidating it into something that then can be translated into a story?

    Will Salcido: Sure, yeah. So different approaches for different types of companies. So I’ll tell you about the data first. So a typical data set, first to know what is selling. You have to know what is selling. There’s two ways to get that data. Actually three, one is you have your own data from your own warehouses. You know what your, what goes out to either distributors or directly to stores. So that’s internal data on what you sold out.

     Will Salcido: Then there’s other data that comes from either the retailer. So Walmart has their own dataset, Kroger, you know, Wegmans, Whole Foods, certainly there’s about 10 retailers that have these data sets that they give or sell, depends, to the brands themselves. So now you can get what they call POS data, point of sale data. What was sold in stores? That data set from the retailers is typically somewhat limited. You get dollars, units pricing, number of stores that you’re in, that’s about it. Sometimes you get a velocity metric like units per store, per week, something like that. So that’s limited but you get it. It can be as frequent as daily data down to the store level, but you don’t usually see what your competitors are selling. The only way to get that is to buy data through a third party, a syndicator, a company like Nielsen.

    Will Salcido: So Nielsen, and they have a couple of other competitors. You can get data from like a Nielsen and they’ll sell you everything sold in the category across as many retailers as they have access to. And this could be hundreds and hundreds of retailers, and you can get that weekly. So weekly performance of you and all other 5,000 items that are sold in your category. And with that, you get hundreds of measures, whether it’s on sale, what kind of sale, attributes around whether it’s organic. Is it in plastic? Is it GM, whatever, all sorts of attributes that matter to your, to that category? So that’s performance.

    Will Salcido: That is a ton of data to mine. Just if it was those three data sources.

    Will Salcido: And then you have demographic information and panel data. So that’s usually coming from two sources in CPG. One is like a Nielsen; Nielsen also has that. So they have, I’m not sure. I think it’s like a hundred thousand or so, a couple of hundred thousand folks out in the country who, who scan everything they buy, and they have pockets. They basically have a, a demographic sample of the country, a slice of it. And from that, they forecast out what, you know, certain demographic groups and folks are gonna buy or buying and what else they bought when they bought your product. So that’s one way to go.

    Will Salcido: And then there are other companies like Numerator, that’s a more like a newer tech company who, they used apps to gamify the scanning of receipts. So consumers then go and scan a receipt. And then from that, they gather what they purchased, and they get some demographic information. So that’s a little different, but it’s, you know, similar information.

    Will Salcido: So that’s how companies usually get demographic information. There’s also other types of analysis called Spectra, and other things or demographic profiles, but those are handled. So that’s one cluster of data.

    Will Salcido: E-commerce data is another one. That’s gonna come directly from Amazon or third parties that aggregate Amazon data and Walmart.com. There’s also Shopify data.

    Will Salcido: So those are, you know, so those data sources, right? All the ones I mentioned are things that my company can aggregate and bring together into a single database that helps make sense of it. There are other data sets that we don’t, we don’t really touch that are also out there. And that’s more around internal data around, you know, like your supply chain, you know, data, which we don’t touch, but that’s also important. Some retailers care about that as I mentioned. There’s probably another five or six, but yeah.

    Tessa Burg: Well, I think this is a healthy list. And I was just thinking in my head like, who is consolidating all this data and making sense of it. And that really is the purpose and the role of Bedrock Analytics Platform. Can you tell me a little bit, what are the big opportunities in 2022? Because I think that’s also a really good lens to kind of help CPG manufacturers understand what data to focus on to best tackle these opportunities.

    Will Salcido: Sure, so in terms of data, so big opportunities and also data, if you’re gonna be buying data for the first time, find out why you’ve done well, and buy those data sets. So if you’re doing really well at Walmart or Whole Foods, they’re very different, make sure that you, you buy access to that data and get all your competitors because you want to use that as a use case.

    Will Salcido: Think of it like a White Paper, of like here’s where we were. And when we came onto the shelf, look how we all played well together. And we ended up becoming the number two brand in the country. You need to show that to Publix and everyone else, ’cause they’ll say, okay, that might, maybe that’ll happen here, too. So that’s a really an effective, and I would say fairly cost effective way to do that. The other side, I’m sorry, your other question was, it was a bigger question. I missed it, which was?

    Tessa Burg: So I know there’ve been a lot of challenges in 2020, 2021. Are there any bright spots or opportunities for small and medium manufacturers to take more of that shelf space?

    Will Salcido: Sure, yeah, I think this is the age of disruption. I think what was, what was known to be true before is now being challenged across the board. So it’s a good time to redefine categories, where we’re seeing a lot of small companies that, you know, a couple of years ago and there’s, it’s not that they’re larger. It’s just that I think everyone, voices have been equalized a little more, as long as you can bring what the retailers want, which are insights, you know, good products that sell well, you have a higher likelihood of being, you know, having a place at the table, you just have to deliver.

    Will Salcido: Yeah, and I think, I think that’s a good way to go. Just kind of provide them with the basics. People are looking for, you know, retailers are really looking for a variety. As long as you have that story around what the consumer wants. You have a pretty good track record, at least a couple of examples. You have a pretty good shot.

    Will Salcido: What other companies are doing by the way around all this data, ’cause I mentioned is some of the larger companies, like the largest in the world are typically, they’re moving towards what they call data lakes. So data lakes are massive databases where all this data flows into. So massive, massive databases, terabytes of data, right? That’s coming in. The issue with it and that’s fine, ’cause they’re storing it, which is that they already have an advantage because at least it’s in one place.

    Will Salcido: The issue becomes then those companies now have to develop fairly large or sophisticated IT departments or tech teams to now figure out, well, how does this data make sense now that we have it in a single place, so now what do we do with it?

    Will Salcido: So they ended up sitting with like massive data storage costs and then now they have to hire more technical people to just pull it out of that single database. And then you still end up with salespeople that are like, well, what do I do with these data sets? So you end up having to hire more analysts to make sense of it. And then what we try to do is basically like Larry, what if you avoided that entire process and let us bring it in because what we’re doing is saying, well, we were all ex CPG people at our company. Let’s forget about everything you could do with it. We actually don’t care about that. What if we could help you sell more product? And that’s it, like we just focus on salespeople with the data and the stories that they’re trying to tell on, well, how can we automate that? And by doing that right, we, unfortunately we say no to a lot of folks because it’s the way, we don’t do everything that they want to do because that’s not our role in the world, but we can help a brand sell more products by using data because we know those stories, you know, and we can help them tell them over and over again, find little angles in the data.

    Tessa Burg: I love that approach. It reminds me whenever we’re developing a new solution or technical solution or software, a client will ask is such and such possible. It was like, well, yeah, I mean, literally anything is possible, but the approach you’re taking is first let’s start with, what’s really important to the shopper and the buyers. What do they need to see? What is going to prove out that our product meets those requirements and that makes the data you need and the data you need to analyze much, much smaller than all the data that is possible to collect. So I really, really love that. And I know one thing when we’ve worked together in the past and I’ve seen Bedrock Analytics, is it’s always focused on the presentation and the story. So, which is perfect because people need to be able to have the data and the stories presented in a format that is accessible to them, that they’re used to, that’s easily easy to compare to people. Other companies are evaluating. But tell me a little bit about when you layer on your new platform, Bedrock Insights, how is that impacting the output of what Bedrock Analytics has always done?

    Will Salcido: It’s been, it’s been a bit, a pretty radical shift, actually. So historically what we built Bedrock Analytics and the product itself was, is called Core. So it’s, imagine that it’s a layer of visualizations and a little bit of context around telling stories, right? So data comes in from all those places that I talked about, and then our software, our Core software, looks at the data and then organizes it into the charts, visualizations that you probably needed me to put together to pitch to a retail buyer. You push a couple buttons, and you get a deck in your template. If you’re Coke, it’ll look, it’ll be red, a Coke, and it has all your logos and colors and it’s source at the bottom, it says Nielsen, so you have a nice deck ready to go, and then you can just change the market. Let’s say, you’re pitching now to Publix. You just choose Publix. And it automatically changes all the data. You get a new deck. That’s been what we’ve been doing for years. And it’s been really effective.

    Will Salcido: With Insights, you know what we realized pretty, you know, I think as we were doing this right, a lot of the times we’d get some customers, the biggest customers in the world. You know, think of the top five CPGs across the world. We’ve talked to them, right. And they say, this is interesting. We’re already kind of doing this stuff. We have 150, we have 200 analysts or, you know, and all these things, right. So we say, yeah, we get that. They’re like, but this is still interesting. It could save us a lot of time because those analysts have to be dedicated to a sales team, and we don’t, we can never have enough analysts.

    Will Salcido: What we, we started doing a little more research into our users. And we found that they always felt it intimidating, even though we’ve organized things nicely. They think of like the story they’re trying to tell. And then they see these little, these visualizations, these charts that they could choose. And there’s a lot of anxiety between the story, I want to tell which I see it in my head, and these charts. So I have to pick the right chart in the right order and choose the right data to go into that chart and then hit save, and then export. But what if it’s wrong? And like, is that the right way? Or am I just simply relying on the same five slides that I always use?

    Will Salcido: So with Bedrock Insights, we took a different approach and said, all right, let’s start with the end. The end is a finished deck for, let’s say, Whole Foods. And we looked, we know we interviewed retail buyers across the board. We talked to our customers, you know, our brokers, our sales brokers, and partners, and then also employee CPG folks. And we, you know, we kind of, we got down to what really matters for each retailer, key retailer across the country. And then we built that I, what they typically want to see. So Costco buyers are different from Whole Foods buyers, that are different from Albertsons and Kroger and things like that.

    Will Salcido: So now in Bedrock Insights, a user logs in, and they can just click on Albertsons and they see a deck for Albertsons that they created, it’s more of a template, but it also has really interesting talking points. We use a deep fake bots to narrate what could be said at an Albertsons call versus what could be said at a Whole Foods call. We also say, well, typically, you know, Whole Foods likes to see 13 slides. Five of those are data slides versus Costco likes to see about 22 slides. So we measure a lot of things, right?

    Will Salcido: So we know on average, what is a good benchmark. Because we service about 160 categories now from dog food to household cleaners and, you know, baby food and all sorts of, you know, basically almost every aisle in the store. So we can see what works, doesn’t work. And now we’re trying to say, well, can we apply some knowledge around, you know, let’s say what Kroger wants, so that if we have a new customer that’s pitching a Kroger, they can click on that. And they get some pretty good guidance on what a Kroger might want to see. So that’s very different from having to pick your own chart. Now it’s like, let me give you a story that seems to work at Kroger. And now you can see how we made it, instead of giving you the ingredients.

    Tessa Burg: That must be like huge, especially for small. And mid-sized CPG companies who can’t afford to have hundreds of analysts, but what you’re doing is taking sort of the data and the lens you have across all of those retailers and using that to help companies exactly understand what has to be said in a pitch to get the space. It is such a direct reflection of your journey. You’re like, hey, not only have I done this, have I had this experience. And I’ve seen retail around the world, for multiple different viewpoints, but now you’ve set up a platform that actually is always evolving because you’re collecting it from the pitches. So I imagine that as Whole Foods, overall retail and category strategies change, will Bedrock Analytics platform and especially the new insights platform evolve to show the new deck that would be more appropriate as their strategies change?

    Will Salcido: Yeah well, what’s really exciting about this new platform is we built it from the ground up, right. From scratch in a way that is extremely flexible. So today we, you know, it’s curated, right? So we’re taking these insights from buyers, from CPG folks, retail brokers, general industry folks to say, okay, here’s, we’re applying data to kind of make sure the models work. This is like a typical deck that you want to see, right. For Kroger versus Whole Foods, highly curated.

    Will Salcido: In, we’re looking at about six to eight months, so version two of Bedrock Insights, that portion will be completely automated. So think of Tesla, right? Tesla came out with cars that, you know, they have, they have some form of automation, but it’s pretty limited. That’s where we’re at. We’re full drive. You know, self-driving mode for us, it’s coming out in six to eight months.

    Will Salcido: What that means is a user can say, I want to launch this product at Publix, help me do it. And the software will look at Publix and say everything that I talked about earlier, right. Which was like, where else have you done well? Let me pull up that story. What else, what other products look like you? Let me show how you play well with them. And let me show how at Publix we’re missing that type of product and the opportunity gap. And then we want to deliver that all in seconds, automatic with the talking bot, the deck, the narration. And you’re ready to go.

    Will Salcido: That, I think, that when we launched that it will be transformative for the industry, because now that means that even if you have no analyst, you will be able to, you’ll be able to tell the stories that 100 person team tells today. It just takes them weeks like it used to take us at Nestlé. You’ll be able to do that in 10 seconds. And even if you have a hundred analysts, now, the sales people can do some of the, some of the, you know, that lifting. And now you have 100 people that are can dedicate, be dedicated to strategy, right? To really changing the category instead of building decks.

    Tessa Burg: Yeah, this is a huge opportunity for 2022, because there’s so much happening with the supply chain issues. I mean, there is no shortage of other challenges. E-commerce changes, mergers and acquisitions that analysts can be diverted to if you’re able to handle, hey, what do the buyers and merchandisers need to see? Because that, if it’s, you know, again, it takes that data lake down to what’s most important to sales and it does free up brain space for strategy, and some problems that right now are a little harder to track and are changing every day. There’s a huge opportunity, especially for people who do not have the hiring power for hundreds of analysts to really disrupt the market.

    Will Salcido: I’ll add something there. So you’re on to something with that question, which is, you know, automation, which is what we’re, we’re ushering in and to CPG, right. Automation happened in on the blue collar side of which was the automation of the warehouses and the production facilities in many ways, most companies have right. ‘Cause that’s how they have pretty good margins on the production of the product.

    Will Salcido: Our automation is on can we help automate telling stories, analyzing data? There are certain things that can’t be automated and that’s, that’s where we’re just humans are so good at dealing with abstract information and finding little angles like, oh, I think this is happening because of X, Y, Z, they can talk to somebody. They can come up with a new idea that changes the direction of the company. And that’s what we find analysts and category managers really want to do. Which is like, I want to be the person that saves the day, that actually moves the needle, because I found some nugget in the data that led me down a path that changed directions. And we did these things and we beat the competition, or we changed the whatever, right? Whatever that might be.

    Will Salcido: Software struggles with those types of things, because you have to define everything for it. We can define what a good story is. ‘Cause we can, you know, hundreds of stories we can collect and automate and say, if this ever happens then do that. And then if that happens, you know, it’s basically a series of logic, but then you have AI that brings in other things, but those other problems are bigger. And that’s what we want to free people up to do. The big things that are gonna actually define careers, not building a deck for Publix versus Whole Foods, even though it’s important. I think we can automate that.

    Tessa Burg: Right, well, I’m excited. I think, you know, this really speaks to analysts. This speaks to heads of sales and marketers, and it does give them an opportunity to address those huge problems while not ignoring sales, which I feel like last year, we got really bogged down trying to balance both and, or just really focusing on sales. And now the overemphasis, needing to get product out, has led to some of the supply chain and other partnership issues. So this is just an awesome way to get the brainpower in the right space and give sales teams exactly what they need to get more shelf space and be in line with retailer’s overall strategies. So awesome job, Will, thank you so much for being our guest today. This is a great conversation. If people wanted to reach out and learn more, where can they find you?

    Will Salcido: Sure, so first place, go to the website, BedrockAnalytics.com. You can look me up on LinkedIn. Will Salcido, I think I’m the only one, we’ll see. Or just, you know, Google bedrock and Will Salcido. You’ll find me. Yeah, and we can connect.

    Tessa Burg: Thank you again for being our guest. That concludes today’s episode. You can visit Tenlo.com, click on podcasts to see all of our past episodes, or just go to iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts and download and subscribe. Until next time, which is in two weeks, we’ll talk to you later.

    Will Salcido: Thank you.

Will Salcido

CEO | Co-Founder | Chairman of Bedrock Analytics Corp
Will Salcido

Will Salcido is the CEO, Co-Founder and Chairman of Bedrock Analytics Corp—a venture-funded SaaS company focused on the CPG vertical. Will has a demonstrated history of working in the software and consumer product goods industry. His experience includes business planning, board governance, marketing, sales, category management and venture capital funding.

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