Tyson Foods unlocks category growth through sales and consumer insights


In a competitive deli market industry, Tyson Foods knew there was opportunity to grow its deli category, but lacked the solutions to identify growth due to their specific data infrastructure. It also wanted to create emotional connections with its shoppers, but needed a solution that could evaluate qualitative shopper emotions. Tyson Foods partnered with Symphony RetailAI for sales and consumer insights, with findings validated through virtual reality. This enabled Tyson Foods to access quantitative and qualitative data sets to understand unarticulated needs from shoppers.


Tyson Foods is a multinational food company with over 121,000 employees. It is the market leader for producing chicken, beef and pork, producing a 1/5 of all these meats in the United States. Tyson sells these meats and prepared foods in all major retail distribution channels, and are the leading protein provider to many national restaurant chains. Its total annual sales are around $42 billion, of which its deli business is $1.7 billion.


The deli category consists of products such as rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, tenders, and wings. The challenge for Tyson was how to gain opportunity in this category and rethinking what shoppers truly wanted, “Shoppers don’t want a rotisserie chicken, they want a meal.”.They believed they could improve a retailer’s performance by up to 15% without changing the assortment or pricing, just by changing the way they looked at their business – but needed the right quantitative and qualitative data insights to support this.

When it came to data, Tyson Foods had challenges, as sales were manually being entered using PLUs rather than UPC scanned items. This meant that its data was only as good as the people entering it. For example, if X dollars in fried chicken wing sales were registered, they were unable to identify whether this was sold hot or cold, in a bucket or a tray, sold by “the each” or by the pound. Therefore, Tyson’s quantitative data wasn’t always accurate. On the qualitative side, Tyson Foods lacked the insights to review shopper emotions when shopping in the deli category.


When searching for the right solution partner, Tyson Foods knew that an off-the-shelf solution wouldn’t work well for them due to the PLU data infrastructure in place. It selected Symphony RetailAI’s Sales and Consumer Insights solution to clearly formalize its customer understanding, along with virtual reality technology, to evaluate true shopper emotions.


Tyson Foods previously struggled to identify high-performing items, and how many out of stocks it had with its specific PLU data infrastructure. With Symphony RetailAI, it discovered that rotisserie chicken and fried chicken were out of stock at peak meal times – 10%-11% of the time. This key new piece of information was critical to driving execution, so it could ensure more product in stock at peak periods, and even work back from when it should produce, in order to ensure product availability that’s always fresh.

In addition to this, Tyson Foods was also able to identify that 67% of deli shoppers exhibited confusion while shopping, and of these only 3% would ask a question to clarify their confusion. When provided with an answer, 97% accepted the advice given to them. By understanding shopper emotions, Tyson Foods has since created an in-store, self-serve, digital information kiosk called “Olive” that provides shoppers with meal recommendations, which drives increased purchase from the deli counter and also across the store.

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