Profile: Cara Kahaly, Shopper Insights Lead, Rx to OTC Switch, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare

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Cara Kahaly started her career at Unilever, working for 15 years across shopper marketing and integrated marketing within the beauty, personal care and food spaces. From there, she went on to Novartis and GSK, leading teams as the director of U.S. shopper marketing and the North American Shopper Science Lab to deliver insights-driven plans together with retailers, including CVS, Kroger, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.

After working together for many years, a former colleague reached out to ask if Kahaly was interested in joining Sanofi. She talked with the team, learned about the vision to improve millions of shoppers’ lives, and started soon after in January 2021.

Please describe your current responsibilities.

KAHALY: My job is to deeply understand the shopper. I am curious about what shoppers think, how they feel and how they act. It is incredibly interesting, since tapping into the minds of consumers within the men’s health and flu categories is leading to empathy-rich understanding. We are rounding out the research plan with a focus on attitudes and behaviors to unfold insights. These insights will drive the omnichannel activation plan and provide an opportunity for deeper retailer collaboration.

How do shopper insights and analytics fit into your organization?

KAHALY: The creation of the Sanofi shopper insights function is rather new and has contributed to elevating the strategic conversation with internal and external partners. Our national and custom research approach enables growth and will inform our plans to drive conversion, shifting shoppers from browsers into buyers. We have two different streams within the shopper insights organization, one over the broad portfolio and the other dedicated to Rx to OTC Switch. We are fully embedded as a cohesive team and work collaboratively across functions, including digital, brand, medical and regulatory.

What are some of the techniques and technology that your team leverages at Sanofi?

KAHALY: Since the team and I work on further-out Rx to OTC Switch launches, we look at capabilities that will transform the way we connect with shoppers, evolving the omnichannel path to purchase. Together with the broader organization, we are focusing on the holistic martech space, including e-commerce, content creation, social and relationships.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing CPGs these days related to insights and analytics?

KAHALY: Data and analytics can be a wildly complex space. The key to navigating it all seems to be: remember to keep it simple. Be choiceful in approach, and distill the full body of insights and analytics work into one meaningful, powerful insight. Then bring it through as inspiration that touches every part of the plan.

How can retail media networks enhance CPG-retailer partnerships?

KAHALY: Collaborating to move from transactional to transformational partnerships starts with identifying a mutual vision that puts the benefit of the shopper at the forefront. By working with retail media networks, we can provide the shopper with a more connected and consistent message throughout the path to purchase. With third-party cookies being phased out, first-party data being offered through retail media networks is rising as a champion with increased value to the omnichannel shopper journey. Whether partnering with Roundel, Walmart Connect, Kroger Precision Marketing or others, the integrated approach allows us to walk in lockstep as a CPG-retailer partnership, enabling a connected online and in-store experience.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

KAHALY: It’s the people. I love to collaborate around a strategic challenge together with the team, all while delivering on our broader vision of “empowering life.” I find joy in embracing diverse thinking and in building on momentum to achieve great things.