NEW YORK: PepsiCo, the food and beverage giant, is seeking to move beyond simply being an early adopter of new technology and experiences, and is instead seeking to "co-create" these efforts in a bid to engage millennials.

Carlos Saavedra, senior director/culture strategy and innovation of Creator – a unit within PepsiCo charged with tracking cutting-edge developments in culture – discussed this topic at MediaPost's Engage: Millennials event.

"There's one major fundamental shift that we're making at PepsiCo," he said. (For more, including details of this idea in practice, read Warc's exclusive report: How PepsiCo keeps ahead of millennial culture.)

"Today, we're really great at being early adopters of new technology. So when something comes on-board … we hopped on that, and we started figuring out how to engage with that."

But while rapidly embracing these emerging tools – say, livestreaming apps like Meerkat or Periscope – is appealing for marketers, it increasingly does not mean that their brands stand out from the crowd.

"At the same time, all of our competitors were doing the same thing, so we really had no competitive advantage by being an early adopter," Saavedra said. "So for us, we have to shift to co-creation."

Co-creation generally involves helping the company "get further up the innovation pipeline" and "understand what's coming" – partly to ensure "it's really more applicable and more meaningful for our brands".

A key part of Creator's mission thus requires partnering with artists and entrepreneurs who are building the latest tech and experiences.

"We're a catalyst group on a mission to explore the edges of culture and innovate and co-create new and interesting experiences," said Saavedra.

One main source of impetus behind this move, he continued, is that experiences represent "the new social currency" for millennials, who often value them more highly than material goods.

As a related trend, technology is evolving at a faster pace than ever before, and giving brands the ability to "hyper-personalise" their output at scale.

"For us, we really need to adapt faster to win the hearts, likes and shares of consumers," Saavedra said.

Data sourced from Warc