AWS for Industries

CPG Partner Conversations: Learn How to Gain Granular Retailer Insights from Skai to Inform Marketing Strategies

In the latest installment of our CPG Partner Conversations series, we talked to Claudia Virgilio, Global Vice President of Commerce Partnerships at Skai, an AWS Partner that offers a holistic go-to-market engine to enhance customer connections with actionable intelligence to make smarter decisions and drive better outcomes. In this post, Claudia explained the importance of data insights from search engines and social media channels for CPG marketing teams to optimize strategies and tactics to uncover new opportunities for revenue growth and quickly pivot when market shifts occur.

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

Claudia Virgilio: Skai is an omnichannel marketing platform used by media practitioners and marketing strategists to drive customer growth across digital channels. When I started at Skai in 2009, the main channel we supported was search, and we were an Amazon Ads Design Partner. We quickly expanded to social media channels to keep pace with the explosion of retail media. With our suite of data-driven products, we help our clients with market intelligence, omnichannel media activation, as well as testing and measurement on the channels where consumers spend time, get inspired, interact, and react. This is one important element of what we do. The other important thing we do is gather insights. We acquired Signals Analytics so that we could provide our clients with 360° data-fueled intelligence that tells us what consumers, the broader market, relevant brands, and competitors are thinking and feeling, as well as what they’re likely to do next. With the synergies of our execution and insights, we help marketers win every shoppable moment.

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

Claudia Virgilio: The digital landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years. Search and social shoppable ad formats continue to grow. Retail media has exploded, and new privacy regulations are changing the way marketers think about data. I see three new challenges for marketers today. The first challenge is around intelligence. For true commerce intelligence, CPG marketers must connect consumer insights, retail analytics, and performance data. Few vendors can provide the depth and breadth of data that CPG companies need to make the most informed decisions. Another challenge is marketing execution. Shopper-centric marketing requires consistency and relevance across all channels. The final challenge is around measurement. Publishers routinely launch new campaign types, ad formats, optimizations, and targeting capabilities. However, it can be difficult to understand which methods drive progress to achieve business goals. It’s also a challenge to understand the incremental impact of changes to ads and formats. Advertisers may have unprecedented opportunity to reach audiences, but they also face unprecedented pressure to make fast decisions that yield results.

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

Claudia Virgilio: In the past, media teams operated in silos. The search team managed search ads, while the social team managed social ads. Everyone was separate. And then, retail media came along, and it became obvious to those companies still operating in silos that it wasn’t working. Today, marketing, content, operations, and fulfillment must all work together to achieve successful, modern, and connected commerce. This is essential in this new world where “around 80% of CEOs are looking to marketing to drive growth.”

Brands, such as Spin Master, understand how marketing, content, and fulfillment all influence each other. When the pandemic started, shipping delays negatively impacted their Amazon Advertising conversion rates. Skai helped Spin Master redirect ad traffic based on shipping data to raise those conversion rates again. Furthermore, this allowed Spin Master to develop long-term strategies to minimize lost sales.

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 CPGs make, move, or market their products?

Claudia Virgilio: Technology is the foundation of a truly customer-centric, strategic marketing model. For example, take the product innovation. PepsiCo used our insights into beverage attributes and benefits to reshape the marketing direction of bubly, its sparkling water brand, based on product attributes that were important to customers. Contextualized data insights give brands the confidence to make expensive product development moves. We also worked with a vitamins, minerals, and supplements brand and triangulated sales trends, consumer discussions, and conversation attributes around apple cider vinegar to determine how that ingredient would trend in the future, so that the client could make informed decisions about how to package and position the product to capitalize on consumer interest. Technology security, reliability, and flexibility are also essential, and AWS cloud infrastructure lets us provide those capabilities to our CPG customers who need our solutions to scale alongside them.

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

Claudia Virgilio: We’re doing three things. The first is around data and insights that fuel campaigns. Brands are now actively seeking intelligence that connects back to their marketing campaigns. Our solutions allowed Reckitt to monitor and optimize its share of voice on Amazon to improve its digital shelf presence, resulting in 94% revenue growth. Mayborn Group also grew its brand-level market share ten points by tapping into granular insights on specific items.

Full-funnel channel optimization is another important service that we provide. We worked with the brand Bondi Sands and their agency, Stella Rising, to take their Amazon sales to the next level by managing their Amazon search and DSP campaigns together. This resulted in a 118% increase in revenue.

Once data and execution are in place, measurement is essential. Our cookie-less, incremental approach eliminates the need for personally identifiable information (PII), and it demonstrates the true impact of every campaign, tactic, and channel. This allows for testing and experimentation to find growth opportunities.

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?

Claudia Virgilio: The current normal is a blurring of the commerce continuum. Retailers used to be on one end and brands were on the other, with direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands somewhere in the middle. Now, retailers have private label brands. DTC brands are sold in major retailers, and brands have their own marketplaces. Everyone is everywhere! CPG brands are all borrowing from each other’s playbooks to collect more first-party data, own their brand experiences, and build closer consumer relationships. I think the next normal will be a continuation of brands creating consistent, relevant customer experiences across all channels. This includes new formats, like TikTok, which is expanding to 10-minute videos, as well as classic channels, like community experiences in stores to lure online shoppers back to physical locations. I believe CPG brands will shift from managing individual channels to managing all channels holistically with an overarching, customer-first strategy. This new approach will necessitate more insourcing of marketing teams.

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

Claudia Virgilio: Because I manage Skai’s retail partner relationships, I have a unique perspective to anticipate what’s coming down the pike for CPG brands. I believe more retail media networks are on the horizon, offering more opportunities for brands to build closer consumer connections. Furthermore, with more insights coming directly from retailers, such as Amazon Marketing Cloud, and from AWS Partners like Skai (check out our brand new intelligent commerce offering), CPG marketing teams will have the power to drive incredible results. CPG companies can already get holistic measurements and insights across their supply base that illuminate the true customer path to purchase—and that insight is the path to CPG revenue growth. There is so much opportunity in this space!

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

We hope you enjoy our series. If you have questions for Claudia, Skai, or AWS, please leave a comment on this post. To learn more about Skai, book a meeting here.

About Skai

Skai is an intelligent marketing platform that powers brand insights, decisions, and execution for faster, more predictable go-to-market outcomes. Skai’s platform includes a suite of data-driven products for market intelligence, omnichannel media activation, testing, and measurement, enabling product, insights, and marketing teams to accurately plan strategies and benefit from connected omnichannel launches. Skai merges the former Kenshoo and Signals Analytics capabilities, and for more than a decade has been trusted by an impressive roster of global brands, including Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, and others.

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.

Claudia Virgilio

Claudia Virgilio

Claudia Virgilio has over 27 years of revenue-generating experience that includes expertise in SaaS and technology with a focus on retail media, eCommerce, SEM, SEO, social, consulting, and CRM/loyalty channels. Claudia heads up Global Commerce Strategic Partnerships at Skai (formerly Kenshoo). Claudia has been at Skai for over 12 years, initially heading up sales efforts with notable deals, including Expedia, Hilton, Walmart, Shutterfly, HP, and more. She also led the Global Agency Team and was instrumental in developing Skai's agency solutions and partnerships. Currently, she focuses on leading strategic commerce partnerships including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Instacart, Criteo, CitrusAd, PromoteIQ, Yahoo, and new emerging partnerships. Prior to Skai, Claudia led West Coast sales for Performics/DoubleClick/Google/Publicis for seven years, managing a team and being instrumental in building the Western region, including accounts like HP, Patagonia, Safeway, Wells Fargo, Walmart, Disney, Adidas and more. Claudia has also held sales positions at Xpedite, Netcentives, Creditland, and Naviant. Claudia graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Spanish.