AWS for Industries

CPG Partner Conversations: Create Meaningful Consumer Experiences with Amperity

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruption. In a matter of days, our world turned upside down. As shelter-in-place lockdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing rules took hold, new consumption patterns quickly emerged. Arguably, no industry felt the pandemic’s dramatic impact more than consumer packaged goods (CPG). However, leaders are forging ahead with resilience, tenacity, and innovation. We’ve embarked on a series of conversations with executives from AWS Partners to showcase their leadership and innovation in challenging times.

In the latest installment of our CPG Partner Conversations blog series, we’re chatting with Marina Klusas, SVP of Global Partnerships and Alliances at Amperity, a leading customer data platform (CDP) that leverages machine learning (ML) to help brands manage customer data and identity, gain a 360-degree customer view, and unlock customer insights. In this post, Marina shares her views on the importance of first-party data for CPG companies to address rapidly shifting consumer behaviors and market disruptions.

AWS: Help our readers understand your vantage point. What’s the space you play in, and with what type of CPG executives does Amperity interact?

Marina Klusas: Enterprise brands depend on Amperity as the critical infrastructure that fuels data-driven customer-centricity to create valuable, meaningful consumer experiences. For best-in-class CPG brands, Amperity powers first-party identity resolution across all disparate touch points with a consumer. Using our patented artificial intelligence (AI) and ML technologies, we help brands expand their universe of known consumers to create persistent holistic profiles at both the household and individual levels, thereby enhancing personalization and enriching the consumer experience.

We work with CPG executives who are market leaders and true agents for digital transformation—both within their own companies and across the CPG and retail industries. Whether through an emerging direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, or an effort to leverage first-party customer relationships to inform decisions about products, supply chains, and personalized offerings, the brands with visions grounded in serving consumers with simple, integrated experiences are the ones that we proudly call partners.

AWS: CPG companies have been managing through unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges for your customers?

Marina Klusas: The biggest challenges have been shifting consumer behaviors and demands, the death of third-party cookies, and accelerating business model and supply chain innovations.

Shifting consumer behaviors and demands

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how consumers are shopping and interacting with brands, especially with the huge shift to online shopping and tailored delivery methods. We live in an era where personalization is standard and privacy is a priority. To meet these expectations, first-party data is essential. More and more, shoppers want to spend their money on brands that use sustainable practices and align with their personal values.

Now, with the uptake in digital channels, the CPG brands well-positioned for success are the ones excited to harness data-driven analytics and insights to create engaging journeys for consumers, regardless of how they shop.

Death of third-party cookies

CPG brands have traditionally reached consumers through indirect channels, such as retail stores or third-party vendors, and they had little direct relationship with end customers. However, with the impending death of third-party cookies, CPGs are now faced with what I believe is both a challenge and an opportunity—to really get to know, learn from, and adapt to consumers.

When third-party cookies go away, brands must change the way they identify and engage with end customers. They’ll need to expand their first-party data strategy and get creative to engage with consumers more directly. Creating valuable, engaging, and rewarding consumer experiences that are informed by existing first-party data will be critical to helping CPG brands successfully manage this transition.

Accelerating business model and supply chain innovation

CPG brands have had to rapidly adapt business models to the changing needs of consumers—especially by expanding supply chains. Shoppers expect seamless delivery and pick up experiences, and if supply chain networks are disrupted, there can be knock-on effects for business operations. Consumers also want sustainable business practices, which means production and shipping transparency is critical to build that trust.

AWS: How do you see CPG companies adjusting their current operating environments to changing market dynamics and consumer expectations?

Marina Klusas: Disruption tends to breed innovation, and that’s exactly what I see in the CPG space. Many CPG brands are leaning into DTC models—alongside retail and e-commerce channels—so that they can build those direct relationships with customers. As brands begin to own the channels, they’ll increase their first-party data reservoirs, and use that data to drive personalized customer experiences across the board, with loyalty programs, direct promotions, and even driving deeper relationships with special events and unique, elevated experiences. I’m seeing an explosion of new and creative ideas from CPG brands that are leveraging first and second-party data to predict and prepare for consumer shifts after the death of third-party cookies, which is very inspiring.

I also see a lot more agility in CPG business models with new practices in product development, production, and service that are resulting in greater speed, resiliency, and sustainability. There used to be a one-size-fits-all model when it came to consumers, but it’s great to see a bottom-up approach take off, where customer-centricity is driving the business forward.

AWS: The CPG industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward the new normal, what role do technology and the cloud play for CPGs? How do you see technology enhancing the way that CPGs make, move, or market their products?

Marina Klusas: For CPG brands to drive fully integrated experiences and gather customer insights that let them bend and adapt to changing consumer behavior across large brand portfolios, hundreds of in-store locations, and digital properties such as websites or mobile apps, it’s critical that the CPG own an integrated tech stack. Amperity’s enterprise CDP serves as the critical customer infrastructure that hydrates and fuels the rest of the technology stack, thereby providing a complete and accurate consumer view from every disparate touchpoint (website analytics, email campaigns, loyalty programs, and more). This is what powers hyper-personalized customer experiences en masse.

With a robust, reliable CDP built on AWS, CPG brands can securely store and manage all first-party consumer data at scale to tailor and measure the effectiveness of business strategies in real-time. And with pre-built connectors, you can easily integrate data from Amazon Pinpoint to drive marketing communications and personalization across target segments alongside other AWS services, such as Amazon Kinesis, to get timeline insights from real-time streaming data, and Amazon Connect to drive superior customer service. Moreover, you can integrate with non-AWS media and data from other enterprise platforms, such as Adobe, Salesforce, and Snowflake, for even more insightful decision making. Then, when you’re ready, you can hydrate downstream personalization and e-commerce tools, including Zendesk, Braze, Trade Desk, and Throtle, to enable more accurate communications in real-time from marketing, advertising, customer service, supply chain, and product innovation.

AWS: With the current CPG industry disruption, how is your company innovating to respond to changes?

Marina Klusas: We’re working with leading CPG brands to hydrate their entire business model with better customer data and insights. The economics of better data have also proven conclusive: personalization and better experiences drive significant increases in revenue and customer lifetime value. A brand’s partnership with Amperity will inform cost savings in loyalty marketing, reduce churn, create seamless, personalized consumer experiences, and strengthen CCPA compliance. An Amperity partnership will also help CPG brands integrate online and offline activity at both a household and individual level—an essential capability when consumer habits are rapidly changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

AWS: There is much talk about a “new normal” going forward. What does this “new normal” look like to you, and how do you think the CPG industry will look three years from now?

Marina Klusas: To me, the “new normal” is really about focusing solely on the customer: what they want and how they want to purchase. With brand loyalty up for grabs, we’re seeing more and more CPG brands establishing a direct relationship with consumers in a wide range of DTC channels rather than being blocked by intermediaries, such as third-party online retailers or retail outlets. CPG companies are harnessing customer insights to create data-driven marketing strategies, ranging from personalization and journey orchestration of emails, texts, and in-app messaging to differentiated offers, as well greater product and supply innovation and shorter time-to-market. Furthermore, increasing competition from new and emerging brands focused on sustainability, value, and convenience are continually challenging and inspiring customer-centricity across the entire CPG industry. It’s an exciting time to be a part of these business-critical conversations!

AWS: What makes you excited for the future of CPG?

Marina Klusas: With some of the world’s most loved and relied-upon brands, CPG companies have an incredible opportunity to define the next generation of customer centricity for the entire retail industry. If they get it right, they will create lasting business value and growth, as well as social value for their consumers and communities. With the pandemic accelerating the use of innovative shopping models from BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store), curbside delivery, and mobile e-commerce, CPG brands can lean into their connection across the entire supply chain to drive truly customer-centric DTC practices from product inception to the digital shelf. Moreover, demand is growing for sustainable and eco-friendly products to combat climate change, and as CPG brands enhance the customer experience, things will be better for consumers, the CPG industry overall, and the environment.

AWS: Thanks for chatting with us, Marina. We appreciate your insights and expertise.

We hope you enjoy our blog series. If you have questions for Marina, Amperity, or AWS, leave a comment on this blog. To learn more about Amperity, request a demo.

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin E. McCurdy is Global CPG Segment Lead – APN for AWS, responsible for identifying and engaging relationships with strategic ISV and SI Partners. Previously, he served as VP – Demand Signal Management at E2open; was Co-Founder and VP of Strategic Accounts for Orchestro, which was later acquired by E2open; and was also Co-Founder and VP of Business Development and Services at Mercari Technologies. Kevin has 25+ years of experience in supply chain management, category management, and demand signal management working with global CPG companies and retailers, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Kraft-Heinz. He holds a BSc in Business Logistics and International Business from Penn State.

Marina Klusas

Marina Klusas

Marina Klusas is SVP of Global Partnerships and Alliances at Amperity, the leading customer data platform (CDP) for enterprise consumer brands. In this role, Marina designed and is currently advancing Amperity’s global ecosystem of cloud partners, ISV tech partners, system integrators, and strategy consulting firms across high-growth markets to accelerate business impact for customer-centric brands and transform siloed customer data into world-class customer experiences. With over 15 years of experience in Adtech strategically enabling Fortune 100 brands to take measurable actions to retain, acquire, and grow their customers and engagement, Marina has held senior executive positions at Resonate, Comscore, and Gravy Analytics. Marina holds an MSc from the London School of Economics in Media Regulation and Policy.