The Analytics Unite Conference is fast-becoming the must-make event for consumer products executives across the entire value chain.


By:  Rob Hand

CEO, Hand Promotion Management, LLC.

The conference schedule for every spring is loaded with some very strong and important industry events for the consumer goods and retail industries. While I do attend most of the major events, there are some that, for me, stand out from the others in terms of what you walk away with in actionable intelligence.

One such event is the Analytics Unite conference.

EnsembleIQ has joined together its manufacture/supplier focused Consumer Goods Technology organization with their channel focused RIS News (Retail Info Systems) team to create one of the most important cross-industry events of the year.

The mission-critical issues of data and analytics in the global mercantile industries have certainly been elevated to the highest levels of priority for retail, manufacturing, and wholesale distribution organizations who struggle daily to win the attention (and wallet) of the consumer while growing the business in the most efficient and effective way possible. Placing so much priority on data and analytics has proven to be a modern mandate for survival.

AU24 is the next installment of the past 10 years’ gathering of both sides of the distribution channel to take on and hopefully solve the sticky, knotty and painful problems of leveraging massive piles of data to produce the smartest intelligence required to operate in the consumer environment. Bringing the key issues of analyzing supply chain, demand planning, revenue growth management, and trade promotion performance to the table in a frank, open and unabridged manner is exactly what is needed.

And it’s exactly what this conference does—extremely well.

You can see manufacturers and retailers on stages at NRF, Consumer Goods Forum, Shoptalk and other major global conferences, and their stories are all insightful and important; but these are large mega-shows where if you don’t have specific times and places scheduled in advance, you are not likely to be conducting fruitful one-on-ones with vendors and/or customers. What the Analytics Unite conferences excel at is bringing people together in more intimate settings that facilitate far more effective interaction.

What the conference also does is bring both parties—supplier and channel—together to openly discuss issues of data and analytics that drive increased consumer engagement and impact both the top and bottom lines. With all of the focus on advanced analytics, we all agree that the data is the key element, and more often than not, the most frustrating issue for both sides of the channel.

There are keynotes, of course, and they are always highly topical with something that is both relevant and current. The breakouts cover critical topics such as defining the action needed to make AI/ML work better and going deep into inventory issues. These are perfect topics for a session attended jointly by supplier and channel, and the interaction is both encouraged and achieved.

Before the standard day one cocktail receptions, the AU24 conference inserts an informal 1:1 interaction opportunity called “Power Hour” where comfortable and casual conversations can be had between the attendees on a range of suggested and open subjects. This is a great way to achieve familiarity between attendees and to provide a quick ice-breaker that can set up more effective networking throughout the rest of the conference.

What I’ve noticed is that the conversations between suppliers and channel customers are specific, detailed, and frankly, pretty darned close to the point. In my experience, most of the major conferences where manufacturers and retailers attend seem to be less integrated, but Analytics Unite tends to bring the two groups together, whether one-on-one or in small groups, so the networking…works.

For more than 10 years now, Analytics Unite digs deeply into the issues, problems and concerns with data in a way that is highly effective. The conference focus is on actionable intelligence across the agenda, and it is gratifying to see topic tables where executives from retail, wholesale and manufacturer/supplier companies talk earnestly and honestly about how to improve the quality and reliability of outcomes from all areas of performance including supply chain, demand planning, trade promotion, pricing, product assortment and execution.

These are not casual conference chats, but instead, real and outward talks that work toward a specific objective for both parties. What I really find attractive is the follow up conducted by both CGT and RIS with their respective customer/subscribers to find out how they applied what they learned and discussed at the conference.

For a look at how Kraft-Heinz, Mars/Wrigley, Estée Lauder and Best Buy leveraged the interactions from the AU23 conference, for example, click HERE. These are real solutions—the kind that may be impossible to achieve without this kind of collaboration.

The data and analytics domain experience of the attendees is impressive. The vendors present also bring their ‘A’ teams along with some strong case studies and presentations with their CPG clients spurring frank and open conversation that generate future opportunities for growth.

It is impressive to see CIOs and CTOs sit down and discuss mutually critical issues like out-of-stocks, promotional tactic efficiency, funding, settlement and logistics. It is also exciting to see them actually agree to take action to solve them. The small footprint of the conference enables this kind of collaboration and provides the support to help the attendees gain real return for their time and money.

The 2024 Analytics Unite conference is in Chicago again this year, and again at the Drake Hotel. If you want to make sure your conference budget ROI is achieved, and you are charged with the mission of finding solutions to your data and analytics problems, this is one event you need to attend.


Rob Hand is the CEO of Hand Promotion Management, one of the industry’s premier analysts and consultants in trade and channel promotion. He is the author of “The Invisible Economy of Consumer Engagement,” the most comprehensive book on modern trade promotion to date.


Rob Hand

Author Rob Hand

Consumer products industry domain expert specializing in trade promotion management and execution. Experienced data and analytics professional focused on how your company can improve the ROI, reduce failure rates and improve overall value for the money you spend on trade promotion, co-op advertising, consumer marketing, demand planning and retail execution. When your company is ready to move to a new vendor, develop a more advanced data and AI capability, improve the collaboration with your marketing department and retail accounts, I am the best contact you can make. Independent, reliable domain knowledge and a long history of success will ensure your own successful results.

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