How aiSight has helped the world’s largest consumer companies find their way into emerging markets

The world’s largest companies know that fast-growing emerging markets offer exciting opportunities for years to come. But they have a problem: protecting the data needed to run a modern consumer business, from market size to sales and inventory levels, is extremely challenging in these markets. Join aiSight, a start-up backed by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which thinks it has the answer.

Founder and CEO Umar Saif originally launched aiSight to work on health issues in developing countries, where the lack of basic data on who lives and works where, as well as the health treatments they are accessing, make it very difficult to plan. in advance. Saif thought that exploiting satellite images and combining them with sophisticated analysis tools would allow him to identify and map population centers in much more detail than ever before, and thus predict the spread of the disease before it took hold. .

That work has led to significant advances in health planning in countries like Saif’s native Pakistan, where officials have been able to use the system’s findings to intervene in disease outbreaks with extremely positive results. Meanwhile, aiSight has also put its technology at the service of commercial customers, helping solve the data problem faced by consumer companies.

“These companies have very little to do when operating in many emerging markets,” says Saif. “They depend on the monthly data collected by field researchers, which are often erratic and out of date.” Many companies have pulled out of markets where they recognize huge growth potential simply because they have been baffled by this lack of visibility, she adds.

The solution, according to Saif, is aiSight technology. It works with satellite imagery to create extraordinarily detailed data on the number of homes, shops and other buildings in almost any location. The company’s data also allows it to accurately predict how many people live and work in these locations, as well as the demographic profile of this population. When a large consumer company places its data in a certain location, such as the stores it works with and the products it supplies, aiSight’s predictive analytics engine can deliver the sophisticated business intelligence work they depend on in more developed economies.

The goal is to track millions of products in every store in a country in order to generate real-time business recommendations for consumers. As soon as aiSight’s technology identifies an opportunity to increase revenue, such as by expanding distribution, improving sales goals, optimizing sales promotions, minimizing out-of-stock stores, or refining the assortment, it informs the company so that can act quickly.

“Think of aiSight as a fully automated command and control center that generates demographic and socioeconomic profiles using satellite imagery for each neighborhood in a country,” says Saif. “Continuously monitors every store, product, channel, distributor, brand, buyer profile and business promotion and generates actionable alerts as soon as it discovers an opportunity to optimize sales, sales or marketing functions to maximize revenue.”

Quite a promise, but a growing number of large multinational consumer companies are signing up. AiSight’s large clients include the likes of Unilever, PepsiCo, Red Bull, Reckitt, British American Tobacco and Phillip Morris International, all of which use its technology to execute far more data-driven sales strategies in key developing markets. .

This is potentially transformative for these very large companies, many of which are now struggling to generate growth in their traditional markets. Emerging economies already account for 55% of global consumer spending with large fast moving consumer goods companies (FMCG). But over the next five years, consumer spending in these markets is expected to grow three times faster than in developed economies, with total spending expected to exceed $ 6 trillion.

AiSight’s ability to offer the FMCG giants greater access to such growth is seeing the business grow rapidly, as is the demand to offer their services in more markets. The company already offers analysis of countries in Asia and the Middle East, but is increasing its coverage almost constantly. This week will herald a major new push in Africa.

The company operates on a software-as-a-service model, with subscription fees dependent on the product ranges and countries the company wishes to monitor.

Jason Elliot, a seasoned retail analytics consultant, believes this is a winning formula. “One such platform has been the holy grail of the FMCG industry, which is still stuck in monthly retail audit presentations, Excel sheets and basic PowerBI charts made by armies of sales analysts,” he says.


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