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Companies in consumer goods and retail were well-represented at this year’s Vision Critical Summit in Chicago. Some of the world’s largest brands were on hand to talk about the innovative ways they’re using customer intelligence in their company.

Here are five highlights from the Summit that are especially applicable to CPG and retail.

  1. Rethink all categories.

Craig Dubitsky, CEO of Hello Products, gave an entertaining keynote on how to turn simple ideas into bold, disruptive products. “People care about everything,” he said, encouraging customer intelligence professionals and innovators in the room to re-evaluate all their products to see if they could be improved.

Dubitsky said most products aren’t designed well, and there’s an opportunity to deliver something better. He added, “there are no boring categories.”

  1. Keep it simple.

Dubitsky said that the key to making products better is to simplify them. He challenged Vision Critical Summit attendees to look for “one big simple idea” and work on implementing that idea.

“Simple is the new black,” proclaimed Dubitsky. “Simplicity is highly underrated.”

  1. Think beyond product testing.

Many retailers shared how they’re getting the most ROI from their insight communities. These companies are getting more value out of their insight communities by thinking creatively and using them for more than just product testing.

One venerable retailer shared how it is using its insight community as a digital hub where other customers can read reviews from their fellow customers.

Some retailers are also talking about ways they’re monetizing their insight community. When done right, allowing partners to gain insight from your community—and charging them for it—is a sure way of seeing revenue from your customer intelligence program.

  1. Consider the underlying customer need.

Companies shouldn’t take customer responses to surveys at face value. That’s one of the key lessons from a session on developing better products, where the speakers spoke about the need to uncover the underlying needs of your customers. Asking follow-up questions and maintaining a two-way conversation with your customers will give you a deeper understanding of what your customers need—and why.

  1. Build your brand.

Presenting findings from the recent report The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, technology researcher Alexandra Samuel revealed brand-building is still critical in the era of peer-to-peer, on-demand sharing. In this new economy, brand is the most useful path for established companies that already have a positive brand sentiment. Retailers and CPG companies that are worried about the likes of InstaCart should identify ways of strengthening their brand recognition and engage with their customers to uncover business models that will allow them to participate in the sharing economy.

Read our top 29 takeaways from the Vision Critical Summit for more insights about customer intelligence.

How to Keep Pace with the Evolution of the CPG Industry

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