With today’s media consumption fragmenting at an unprecedented pace, marketers can choose from any number of exciting new platforms to reach their audience, but consumers are being inundated with an endless stream of random ads and promotions. IRI, a leading big data, analytics and insights firm, argues that companies need to become more personalized and precise in how they communicate with consumers and measure how their communications impact consumer behaviors and sales over time. IRI President and CEO Andrew Appel, one of our 30 Most Innovative CEOs to Watch, recognized that the complexity of the advertising ecosystem was creating messaging chaos – companies were spending hundreds of billions of dollars on ads that were poorly targeted, irrelevant and annoying to consumers.
To combat this problem, IRI launched the Personalization Suite, a game-changing capability that enables companies to target their marketing and promotions on a more granular, personalized level. The Suite’s three core solutions are layered on top of IRI’s unparalleled trove of data assets and can optimize the effectiveness of advertising spend on sales by up to 70 percent. “The answer is personalization,” Appel told Insights Success. “At IRI, we are helping companies reach the people who are most interested in their messaging and most likely to buy their products,” said Appel.
The launch of the IRI Personalization Suite demonstrates Appel’s mission to help IRI’s clients navigate a dynamic and changing consumer landscape. Since Appel joined IRI in 2012, the company has transformed into a leading technology-focused big data insights provider, helping consumer packaged goods, over-the-counter health care organizations, retailers, financial services and media companies grow their businesses.
Leading One of the Original Innovators in Big Data
Whether analyzing how to make clients’ assortment, pricing and promotions more profitable, tailoring media strategies, or guiding them through new product or market planning, IRI aims to turn data into unique consumer insights that lead to actions.
In turn, IRI leaders are experts in understanding the ways in which the consumer experience is evolving and creating capabilities to help clients navigate it. IRI’s Appel is at his best in the company’s innovative, forward-looking culture – his deep leadership and advisory experience was honed in environments where data-driven decision making and innovation were valued. Appel joined IRI from Aon, where as Chief Operating Officer he led the team responsible for the $5 billion acquisition and integration of Hewitt, solidifying Aon’s leading position in human resource consulting and outsourcing. Earlier in his career, Appel was a senior partner at McKinsey and Company. As a founding member of McKinsey’s Global Business Technology and Operations Practice, Appel led the practice as it grew from 50 to 300 consultants.
This combination of vision, forward thinking and deep industry expertise is critical for IRI, a company at the nexus of raw data, advanced technological analysis and actionable insights.
Collaboration is Key
At IRI, collaboration is one of the company’s core values. Appel and his team are dedicated to working closely with a range of industry and retail leaders to deliver joint solutions, services and access to capabilities, and in turn, expand the breadth of data and insights IRI provides its clients. As a result, IRI clients have unprecedented access to real-time analysis of granular retailer data at scale, which gives marketers a new level of precision and accuracy in advertising.
“IRI’s expansive Partner Ecosystem is one of our greatest assets,” Appel says. “We are differentiated by our state-of-the-art technology and capabilities, powered by industry partnerships with companies like Adobe, comScore, Experian, GfK and Kantar Shopcom, and our unparalleled trove of data assets, harvested in collaboration with several of the world’s top retailers, including Ahold USA and Delhaize America, The Kroger Co., Rite Aid, and Walgreens Boots Alliance.”
Appel’s tremendous momentum in signing up retail partnerships shows no signs of slowing down. IRI recently announced major strategic partnerships with Ahold USA, Delhaize America, and Boots UK, three leading retailers with over 4,400 combined stores. IRI is now the preferred partner of choice for 7 of the top 10 global retailers.
Leadership for a “Re-startup”
IRI describes itself as a “re-startup” in that, despite its 35-year history, it is both technologically advanced and nimble. Maintaining that momentum across a global organization takes strong leadership, and, Appel believes, a leader who encourages forward thinking, sets the pace for continuous innovation, and leads by example. “At IRI, we have consistently pushed the boundaries of data science and explored new frontiers, but keeping up that momentum and drive to compete with our own best work can be challenging,” Appel says. “It would be easy to rest on our laurels, but I try to model the high energy, flexibility and market awareness that companies focused on innovation need to succeed.”
Positioning IRI for Continued Success
In the midst of historic changes in consumers’ buying behaviors, driven by an explosion of technology and new media formats, one of the most acute issues that IRI’s clients face is the impact of marketing campaigns. Confident that the shift toward personalized marketing is key for CPG and OTC healthcare companies, Appel attests that “as the dynamic marketing environment continues to evolve, IRI will carry on leading the charge toward 1:1 personalized marketing with unmatched data, proprietary algorithms, leading technology and groundbreaking solutions.” In the years to come, Appel and his team will continue to provide clients with a roadmap to navigate the changing consumer landscape, and the Company will continue to push boundaries in the insights and analysis space to help their clients achieve growth.