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How HEINEKEN is Amplifying Insights with Generative AI

Stravito July 8, 2024

Leading multinational brewer HEINEKEN has been building a best-in-class insights ecosystem to keep the consumer front of mind for all of their employees. At the core of this insights ecosystem is KIM, Heineken’s knowledge and insights management system powered by Stravito. 

A centralized platform for Consumer, Category, and Market Insights, KIM boasts an average of 400+ monthly users, with over 2,000 users from various departments in the organization logging into KIM since its launch.

The innovative CMI team at HEINEKEN has been continuously looking for ways to enhance the way they work with insights. For example, earlier this year, Lalo Luna, Global Strategic Insights Lead at HEINEKEN, shared that they had been piloting Stravito’s new generative AI tool, Assistant. 

A few months later, and the first results are in.


Skip to video: watch HEINEKEN’s full session at IIeX Europe 2024 to learn how they’re partnering with Stravito to harness the power of AI and empower its insights teams


Revolutionizing Insights with GenAI

HEINEKEN was quick to see the potential of GenAI in insights management, so it comes as no surprise that they were one of the first Stravito customers to pilot the new Assistant feature. Partnering with Stravito, their feedback was an essential part of the feature’s development, ensuring that the power of GenAI would be harnessed in a way that would bring value to insights teams and their stakeholders.

“With this new generation of GenAI, we’re seeing better data, better structure, and better replies. They’re more based on context and more conversational,” says Lalo. 

One of the key opportunities they see with GenAI technology is to more effectively leverage their existing knowledge. Lalo explains:

“The most important thing is we now have the opportunity to better leverage our own data. That’s one of the key messages that we’re trying to send to our colleagues and our function – it’s not about doing more and more research for the sake of it. It’s necessary to pause and understand what we have.”

Without the support of technology, this would be a near impossible task. But the Assistant feature in KIM has made it possible for more people at HEINEKEN to leverage more of their research. Lalo adds:

“It would be humanly impossible to read all of these documents, all this knowledge that we have in our repository at a company the size of HEINEKEN. This technology has made it super easy for us to connect the dots and to provide not just quick answers but relevant answers to our colleagues. And this is not something that is happening only in CMI. This is something that we are really trying to deliver and simplify the process to other colleagues beyond CMI, other functions, not only in marketing, but also in sales, in CS&L, in other different areas. So everybody can get access to this”. 

One of the particular benefits they see with Assistant is the ability to ask questions. Lalo explains it this way:

“The natural process of a person looking for an answer is asking questions, not searching for terms, not searching for topics. It's clear that we have Google, but people are thinking about business questions. With this GenAI feature, we are able to answer questions.” 

Lalo has found that the more relevant answers users receive, the easier it is for them to use the information and embed it into their processes. 


Scaling Productivity at HEINEKEN through GenAI

After testing Assistant for a few months, the team at HEINEKEN has seen impressive results. 

Lalo and his team found that GenAI improved the user experience significantly, with a more than 50% increase in unique users across the organization, as well as 71% more of the content in KIM being used.

And the benefits of leveraging GenAI technology haven’t stopped there. Lalo explains:

“The most valuable resource that we have is time. We estimate that we’ve been saving 1,553 hours per week just receiving and answering questions.”

The time saved searching can then be used to elevate the role of insights. Lalo adds: 

“This is allowing us to really raise the bar in terms of the function and the role of a CMI person because now we have more time to dedicate to being a strategic partner to different teams.”

The time that the CMI team at HEINEKEN is saving is also translating into business impact. 

“From the business perspective, we estimate a savings of almost €900,000 worth of CMI time that is now dedicated to more actionable tasks and strategic thinking,” says Lalo.


The Future of Insights at Heineken: AI and Beyond

Tony Costella, Global Consumer and Market Insights Director at HEINEKEN, sees the GenAI capabilities in KIM to be a key part of their mission to democratize insight within the organization. He explains: 

“We want insight in the hands of everybody in the company. And that's not to take away the job of our insights people. The more we democratize insight, the more we free up our time to work on more strategic projects and foresight work. We're doing more interesting work that our people love doing and spending less time just digging through research.”

One example of the more creative, strategic work that the CMI team at HEINEKEN has been inspired to create since piloting Assistant is their Consumer Hotline, an initiative designed to ignite passion and curiosity among their colleagues for their internal Commerce Week. It can be complex and logistically challenging to make it possible for team members to engage with real consumers, so Tony, Lalo, and their team plan to leverage their knowledge using synthetic personas trained on specific Collections of insights in KIM. 

Instead of just getting a report or one-pager, their HEINEKEN stakeholders can enter a phone booth and “speak” to a Gen Z persona. 

Tony is very optimistic about the wider potential of this concept, saying:

“This is a great new way to think about how to share the results of a project. Rather than a presentation or a workshop, we can create an avatar that is preloaded with all of the insights from that knowledge and let people interact with it. It's a much better way for people to learn and really ingrain what we know.”


Knowledge and Insights Management Reimagined

The CMI team at HEINEKEN sees Assistant as a true step change in how they work with insights. 

“It’s having a huge impact already, and it’s only the start of the journey,” says Tony.

They plan to continue expanding their AI ecosystem for seamless interconnectivity, making it available to even more internal stakeholders and partners.

Tony adds:

“There's a lot of integration work happening to really embed KIM across our entire ecosystem and into Heineken's ecosystem so that the voice of the consumer is present in every meeting, in every discussion.” 

When asked about their biggest learnings on this journey, Lalo and Tony both had valuable words of wisdom to share. 

It’s crucial to remember that technology is an enabler, not a replacement. You need to make sure that you’re putting humans first,” says Lalo.

Tony emphasized the importance of not waiting to get started.

“Just do it,” he concludes, “We’ve been talking about GenAI for a year, but we’ve made a lot of progress because we keep trying things. Just go and do it, and you will learn as you go about the pitfalls, about what works. But you’ve got to get out there and start doing it because it is a true pivot point for our industry.” 

Watch Lalo and Tony speak about all the incredible work they’re doing with GenAI at HEINEKEN in their presentation at IIeX Europe 2024: 


Learn more about HEINEKEN’s knowledge management journey and Stravito Assistant below:

How HEINEKEN is Building a Best-in-Class Insights Ecosystem

Stravito Advances Generative AI Features by Introducing Assistant