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The Time is Now to Prepare for 2021: 3 Steps to Proper Scenario Planning

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Since the start of the pandemic, brand manufacturers have been trying to react and evolve and there are more changes on the horizon. From understanding how consumer needs are shifting, to what the impact of the recession is on spending patterns and wallet share, to uncovering new opportunities for the future, what has become clear for most leaders is that business as usual in planning for 2021 and beyond will simply not work.

What will work? What needs to change? Armed with the lessons learned over the past 6 months and our market leadership in data and advanced analytics, we are offering 3 concrete steps to proper scenario planning for 2021 and beyond.

1. Recognizing the value of data. More data and better data are needed so that decision-makers can de-risk their future and feel more confident about the decisions they need to make today. This means data that reduces the noise, removes the complexity and enables agility – data outcomes that can only come with AI and advanced analytics.

2. Applying effective AI and analytics. Effective AI and analytics are based on three pillars: connected data, deeply contextual engines and specialized NLP and domain expertise. Connected data means collecting and associating the relevant pieces from different data sources into a single source of truth which can be tapped into for multiple purposes. Deep contextual engines reach into these sources to extract meaning and relevance, but this will not work without key domain expertise that defines and applies taxonomies. As a result of the complexities involved with each of the components, it is time for most organizations to more carefully weigh the build versus buy conundrum and assess configurable data platforms that make it easier to implement analytics and extract value faster as opposed to building a custom system that may or may not support the business needs in a scalable or futuristic way.

3. Identifying key business questions. Most strategic planning projects fail because they don’t have a specific goal or business question in mind, or there is no specific owner or driver for the project, so it is not tied to business imperatives. So to be impactful, the process should begin with identifying the key business questions that need to be answered and consequently who will own it. For example:

  • Are consumer sentiments shifting demand to or from some key product lines?
  • What are the trends that arose as a result of the pandemic? What are the trends that were disrupted as part of the pandemic?
  • What changes should my business make in our product offerings as a result of the above?
  • Are there new opportunities to tap into?
  • How can I optimize my channel marketing strategies to align with consumers shopping on those channels?
  • How can I align my key marketing messages to resonate best with how consumers view my brand versus the competition?

As we look into 2021, data from the past, singular data sources and internal data will not be enough. They are also in some ways is irrelevant as consumers seek new alternatives and have established new habits that will reflect in their purchases for a long time to come.

All this and more was covered in our ongoing webinar series last week. In case you missed the live session, you can access the recording here.


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Chris Thatcher
5W Public Relations 646-430-5161
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