Trying to Forecast Product Demand? Use AI Tools to Predict The Trajectory of a Consumer Trend

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4 mins read

The year 2020 has been an outlier in more ways than one.

And for Data Analytics for demand forecasting and planning, data anomalies have been widespread, dynamic, and diverse across multiple quarters and geographies.

Specifically, for FMCG/CPG and Retailers, both local and global brands in the portfolio witnessed unexpected spikes and downward spirals in the demand and fulfillment due to disruption in consumer sentiment, their preferences, and the global supply chain.

With no playbook at hand and a script that is constantly evolving, we look at some of the challenges FMCG Companies and Retailers, like you, can expect to confront during 2021 planning and demand forecasting.

We will also throw some light on how you can leverage AI in Analytics to overcome these challenges.

Challenges in 2021 planning: Dark clouds that continue to linger for FMCG Industry

While consumers, governments, and businesses continue to adapt after the initial storm of disruptions, thriving in the new normal of the world markets can be laden with the following challenges:

Need to redefine business and operational Agility: 

Consumer brands that aspire to continue to chase growth and thrive in this highly competitive landscape further disrupted by the pandemic will have to look at data, tools, and processes that will empower global and local teams to:

  • Spot an emerging consumer trend(s) early
  • The transition from concept to product launch at light speed
  • Analyze product performance, to scale-up or kill
  • Repeat at 2x/4x speed and scale


Factor-in the worst and the best of times ahead: 

While globally, local governments and communities will continue to take appropriate actions to control and manage the varying levels of outbreaks (probably for at least two quarters into 2021) consumer sentiments are expected to sway based on the prospects of new waves of the pandemic in their local communities or the launch of vaccines or treatments.

Organizations that will forewarn their different product categories and brands with plans to course-correct based on the turn of events will be forearmed to leverage or survive the good or the bad times.

Product Portfolio Optimization for an Optimum RoI: 

In times of uncertainty, the age-old technique of portfolio optimization is critical to ensure optimum utilization of available resources and budgets.

But remember, this is a data-driven battlefield that requires continuous monitoring of consumer sentiments, their preferences, and the simultaneous unveiling of trustworthy trends by filtering out all the noise.

Organizations and brands with such capabilities will be able to affect the necessary product churn at the required scale and speed in 2021 and beyond.

How AI, NLP, and Predictive Analytics can play a role in overcoming these challenges: 

Planning for 2021 based on traditional data sources and methods of analysis will be akin to entering this data-driven battlefront with a blunt sword.


Let’s look at ways in which your organization can leverage AI in Big Data Analytics to ensure agility, prepare for uncertainty in consumer outlook, and optimize product portfolio.

  • Big Data about your customer segments, brands, and competitors, are being delivered at volume, velocity, and variety on social platforms, online marketplaces, e-commerce platforms, retail sales data and more. With AI at the helm, your organization will be able to identify and leverage relevant data sources for 2021 planning.
  • Big Data, especially from social platforms, provides an opportunity for your organization to unlock additional value by extracting consumer intent and sentiments. Since such data can be highly unstructured and continue to stream in various local languages, the development or inclusion of Natural Language Processing capabilities in your Analytics Suite becomes a pre-requisite. However, this can eventually empower your teams to discover the prevailing local trends and customer intent from the data available in local languages and dialects.
  • In your quest to identify a trustworthy consumer trend, your teams can’t afford to chase the noise disguised as a trend and build plans on shaky foundations. Investing in an AI platform or building in-house capabilities to filter out noises of various kinds will be the step in the right direction.
  • With a trustworthy trend(s) identified, Predictive Analysis will forewarn and forearm your execution teams about the future trajectory of this trend(s).

A 2021 plan based on such insights and AI capabilities will stand a chance to deliver results by being agile, optimized, and factor-in the worst and the best that the future may have in store for our world.

Have you kick-started your 2021 planning? Are you able to relate to some of these challenges or facing a roadblock of different scales and dimensions? We would love to hear from you and share our experience and expertise.