Global revenue management consultancy, Acumen, has announced plans to prioritise the development of data and AI solutions for consumer brands. This decision comes as brands face demands to recover lost volume through aggressive promotional strategies. Acumen has constituted a dedicated team aimed at integrating new AI technologies into their SaaS solutions, Acumen Invest and Acumen Radar, as part of efforts to enable brands to remain competitive amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
Kantar's recent announcement reveals that nearly a third of all consumer spending in the four weeks leading to Christmas Eve was spent on promotional items, hitting the highest level since December 2020. This surge in promotional activity pressures manufacturing brands to evaluate the effectiveness and ROI of their promotional spend, and brings to light the need for a level playing field.
Last year presented numerous challenges for Acumen, including slowing inflationary headwinds that forced brands to drive sales through promotional activity to offset volume decline. This trend is projected to continue into 2024. However, despite the challenges, Acumen recorded an impressive 30% YoY growth following double digit growth in 2024, enabling the firm to expand its team geared towards AI and data.
The newly launched Acumen's Data and AI team will fix its focus on value addition for consumer brands. Among the new team's sweeping roles, they will integrate new AI technologies into their solutions to render the interpretation and analysis of key commercial data easier for clients. Positioning an AI Guru as the keystone of their in-app AI and advanced analytics offering is also within their remit. They aim to enable users to access immediate answers using natural language.
Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst at NBK Retail, observes, "The retail landscape has been fraught for both retailers and brands, with an increased reliance on promotions and discounts to drive consumer spending. With wage and business rates related inflation expected to hit the retail sector in the coming months, brands must ensure they are prepared for negotiations with retailers in this volatile landscape."
Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder at Acumen, Nick Ryan, shares his thoughts on the new development. He comments, "2023 was a strong year for Acumen, with growth of 30% YoY following double digit growth in 2022."
"This success has enabled us to invest in a dedicated AI team to help our clients make the right pricing and promotions decisions while margins are increasingly under pressure. Having a secure, real-time understanding of promotional performance and ROI is more critical than ever as the supplier P&L is under increased stress. The consumer brands that recognize this are better placed to steer their businesses to a healthier outlook."
In 2023, Acumen also expanded its Asia Pacific team, delivering multiple projects across markets in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan. Looking ahead, it is anticipated that their new capabilities will enable brands to make quicker, smarter decisions about product pricing, allowing them to remain competitive without further damaging profit margins.