Catalina’s Kevin Hunter on Optimizing Brand Performance with Data

Catalina’s Kevin Hunter on Optimizing Brand Performance with Data

Interview by Maja Skokleska
Published: February 23, 2023

Who Is Kevin Hunter

Kevin Hunter, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Innovation at Catalina, is a pioneering product visionary with 20+ years of entrepreneurial leadership in global strategy, business development and product leadership. At Catalina, Kevin leads sales, strategic partnerships, commercialization and product innovation, and is responsible for all of Catalina’s US revenue and driving growth across all of Catalina’s verticals.

Data analytics has influenced the business landscape in many ways. Most organizations rely on key insights to understand their customer behavior, bring faster, more effective decisions and drive better financial performance.  

As a company with 40+ years of experience in transforming data into insights and insights into action, Catalina is one of the industry leaders leveraging real-time intelligence to decode shopper behavior and maximize consumer relationships. On top of that, Catalina also enables businesses to convert prospective customers into buyers. 

In this interview, we speak to Catalina’s Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Innovation Kevin Hunter to learn how data helps optimize brand performance. 

Kevin also talked about how shopper behavior has changed and how businesses can leverage personalized messaging to boost sales. 

Catalina logo

Spotlight: How do user insights help businesses optimize their marketing in terms of planning, execution and results? 

Kevin Hunter: Purchase data, properly analyzed, provides a treasure trove of insights into which brand messages are likely to resonate at a given moment in the shopper journey. It signals what a shopper is likely to buy when – and guides how they can be effectively and efficiently influenced at the point of purchase to trigger a sale.

We can also use data to ensure advertising is optimized in real-time. For example, we can suppress marketing messages if a shopper has recently bought a product and instead target those who are more likely to purchase. These sorts of advancements are resulting in phenomenal Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). 

What changed in shopper behavior over the years and what recent trends should businesses know to effectively promote their products or services? 

Shoppers these days are demanding an elevated, more personalized customer experience however they interact with a retailer. While the COVID-19 pandemic inspired millions of people to shop online, last year saw more people returning to brick & mortar stores. So now there are three distinct segments: people who shop online only, those who shop exclusively in-store and a hybrid of the two. All share a common desire for similar assortments, prices, and promotions. That was a primary driver behind our recent launch of Catalina Reach Extender – a collaboration with 84.51 to offer Kroger shoppers who shop exclusively in-store the same promotions that digitally engaged shoppers receive.

We’re also seeing a renewed focus on in-store strategies such as loyalty rewards, and expanding them beyond price into other value services, such as discounts on delivery and monthly specials of free items. Moves like these are designed to reinforce that a retailer knows each shopper and can offer personalized engagement. 

According to Segment, 71% of customers are expecting personalized online experiences. How can businesses work with Catalina to meet this demand? 

Winning marketers these days recognize that shoppers are demanding a seamless omnichannel experience whenever and wherever they come in contact with a brand, whether that be online or in a physical store. Personalizing the messages that shoppers receive is key. We work with our brand and retail customers to precisely target loyal and prospective buyers with meaningful and relevant offers – via digital, connected TV (CTV), out-of-home, and in-store channels to trigger a measurable response. The proof is in the data. 

Please tell us about Catalina HUB360 and the ways it helps businesses increase shopper engagement and sales. 

Imagine an online dashboard that helps marketers optimize brand performance in real-time. That’s exactly what HUB360 does. In one location, our customers can track the effectiveness of the tools we provide to gather insights, target the audiences that matter most and measure the effectiveness of their messaging in-flight. Even better, they can make adjustments at the moment if a certain message is falling flat rather than wait six weeks after a program ends to assess whether or not it worked. Equally exciting, HUB360 can attribute which media triggered an actual purchase, and adjust media spending accordingly. Again, in real-time. 

Catalina has worked with global brands like L’Oréal, Nestlé and Johnson & Johnson. What should customers know about how big brands gather their data? 

Regardless of the size of a brand, privacy issues remain paramount. Neither we nor our retail and CPG customers, ever see Personally Identifiable Information (PII). We work with digital resolution providers to link digital device IDs to frequent shopper cards, which allows us to pinpoint a brand’s performance at the UPC level while identifying audience affinities and demographics, as well as trial and repeat insights. 

Please introduce us to your Audience Catalog. Who is it for and how does it work? 

Over the past 40 years, Catalina has built the largest shopper behavior data platform in the world, which provides the foundation for our Audience Catalog. In the US alone, we have a window into virtually every US household. In order to connect the retailers and CPG brands we represent with current and prospective buyers, a marketer needs to know what makes them tick. What resonates with one shopper vs. another? That’s the whole point of our Audience Catalog, which now includes a treasure trove of more than 1,700 custom and syndicated audiences that customers can target with relevant, personalized marketing messages that trigger sales, engender loyalty and build brands

Lastly, St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner. How can retailers leverage personalized messaging to increase sales for this -- or any -- holiday? 

By looking at sales data in the weeks leading up to any holiday, we can see purchases being made down to the UPC level. Knowing what shoppers are more likely to put in their baskets, across categories, enables us to work with our retail and brand customers to develop personalized messages and cross-promotions that measurably drive incremental sales. 

Thank you for your time, Kevin Hunter. Best of luck to you and Catalina!  

Keep up with Catalina on LinkedIn and read about other successful businesses here.

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