Colgate-Palmolive set artificial intelligence (AI) to work as it sought to tackle one of the thorniest problems in marketing: discovering the true return on investment (ROI) from its retail promotions.

Given that consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers usually allocate between 30% and 40% of their budgets to such activity, finding anything near a definitive answer would generate significant value for the business, argued Rahul Tyagi, Colgate-Palmolive’s worldwide director/analytics center of excellence.

“Even the slightest impact can have, basically, a big impact on the bottom line,” he told delegates at The AI Summit, a conference held by Informa in New York.

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Rahul Tyagi, worldwide director/analytics center of excellence, Colgate-Palmolive

AI has been the subject of vast hype among marketers precisely because it promises to establish trends and correlations from vast, sprawling datasets that humans – let alone traditional research methods – could not feasibly analyze. For a complex industry like CPG, where numerous brands are the subject of diverse price and display promotions in multiple channels, the allure is obvious.