PepsiCo’s Demand Accelerator Takes Consumer Insights to Next Level

By Collin Robisheaux |  August 20, 2021

With products on every continent and billions of dollars in revenue, PepsiCo is a titan of the food and beverage industry. To connect with new markets and understand consumers, PepsiCo’s Demand Accelerator has the company tracking and engaging with consumer data unlike ever before.

Jeff Swearingen, Global Senior Vice President at PepsiCo

“In the US, we have a data set of about 106 million households and 500,000 retail outlets, and on those households, we have over 1,000 lines of data,” explains PepsiCo Global Senior Vice President Jeff Swearingen. “What that allows us to do is it allows us to achieve those goals of identifying the right households for a particular initiative.”

PepsiCo’s Demand Accelerator program gathers consumer insights and data in order to make informed investment decisions. The program allows PepsiCo to distribute resources to the right places and most effectively engage consumers, in turn boosting revenue.

As Global SVP and Head of the Demand Accelerator program, Swearingen oversees many of the metrics that PepsiCo is using to enhance consumer data. Swearingen sat down with InnoLead to discuss the efficacy of the Demand Accelerator, the specific data PepsiCo uses, consumer trends in the food and beverage industry, and more.

Catering to the Customer

PepsiCo’s Demand Accelerator provides the company with data on millions of households across the world. When bolstering the customer experience, Swearingen says there are certain key data points that the company looks for – including customer satisfaction levels, the efficiency of media, and sales per retail outlet.

“We have capabilities that allow us to identify the most valuable consumers and stores and then all the way through engage consumers more effectively, drive conversion at retail and online, and then optimize our investments,” Swearingen explains. “So from a metrics perspective, we look at how effectively we are identifying the right target for any initiative.”

With a strong focus on consumers and the trends they follow, PepsiCo can identify markets that are untapped, markets that are booming, and key demographics that give the company a complete understanding of the customer.

“One of the things that hasn’t changed at all is starting with the consumer,” Swearingen explains. “So if you start with the consumer, and you invest the time to really understand the consumer, then a lot of good things can happen.”

“If you start with the consumer, and you invest the time to really understand the consumer, then a lot of good things can happen.”

What to Look For When Tech Scouting

In his role with PepsiCo, Swearingen also oversees technology partnerships for the company. When exploring partnerships with rising startups, Swearingen says there are certain qualities he looks for in an organization.

“Scale is important,” Swearingen says. “Things can start at a smaller level; we do a lot of pilots, we do a lot of experimentation. But ultimately, [the company] has got to scale. So that’s an important one.”

For a company as large as PepsiCo, mutually beneficial partnerships are a priority. Swearingen says that his team prioritizes the tech startups with a business model that will expand PepsiCo’s growth.

“We’re looking for ways to create an advantage for the things that we’re doing,” Swearingen explains. “So that often means really understanding what we’re good at and the things that we have leverage against today, and finding ways to extend into those areas.”

Photo courtesy of PepsiCo.

Identifying Changing Consumer Patterns

With lockdowns keeping consumers in their homes and social distancing guidelines impacting store operations, the retail, food, and beverage industries have seen many changes since the start of the pandemic.

One of the major trends Swearingen identified was a shift from in-store purchases of PepsiCo products to an overwhelming amount of online sales. According to Swearingen, 80 percent of consumers in the US have purchased PepsiCo products online over the past 12 months – a huge spike.

“[Online shopping] is sticking, and consumers have forever changed,” Swearingen says. “What would have been historically, predominantly a brick and mortar experience is now a true omnichannel experience.”

With access to a vast database due to the continued success of the Demand Accelerator, Swearingen and his team have been able to stay agile when navigating COVID-related trends. Swearingen says that understanding consumer insights will keep PepsiCo ahead of the curve.

“Consumers have been changing behavior for 25 years, and now it’s starting to manifest itself in new ways in food and beverage,” Swearingen says. “And it makes me…very happy that we started this digital data journey in earnest six years ago. Because we were able to pivot quickly when [COVID-19] hit, and we were able to take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves in an online and an offline environment.”