PepsiCo: PepsiCo leans on Indian tech talent to leverage GenAI

Beverages and snacks maker PepsiCo is betting big on generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), which is helping it develop and launch products faster, chief strategy and transformation officer Athina Kanioura told ET. The maker of Pepsi soft drinks, Tropicana juices and Lays potato chips is also planning to expand its back-office operations in India and hire more employees, he said.

GenAI has helped the company in the areas of productivity, marketing, customer service and feedback to develop new products and launch them in the market faster, the executive said.

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The US-headquartered firm has firmed up plans to add a new capability center in India this year and plans to hire more employees here. It currently has nearly 4,000 employees in its two capability centres, in Hyderabad and Gurugram.

“We are adding a third capability center in India this year soon… and elevating a lot of our India leadership roles as well as global leadership, positioning a lot of talent out of India…India’s talent is being leveraged across the globe,” Kanioura said.

The Hyderabad centre, which employs around 3,000 employees, is focused on AI, process transformation and next generation technologies, while the Gurugram facility works on software engineering, she said.

Leveraging GenAI

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The company experimented with GenAI in its marketing campaigns, the PepsiCo executive said. While AI helped reduce the campaign cycle from 6-9 months to 3-4 months, GenAI has helped that shrink further. “Now, we are able to go to the market faster,” she said. Citing snack brand Cheetos as an example, Kanioura said the company utilized GenAI to get the product its “perfect shape, perfect flavour”, with the relevant customer feedback. This allowed the firm to sustain margins on the product while driving revenue.

“The second penetration with GenAI is in consumer segments which include expansion of the portfolio. Overall, the delta with this example was up by 15%,” he said, adding that this could boost both revenue and profitability.

For the industry, he expects GenAI to bring an incremental uplift of 10-15% in revenue, depending on the maturity of a company.

PepsiCo wants to use Gen AI to give the company the ability to synthesize, analyze more data and find synergies with other categories that consumers might want.

In the US, the GenAI experiments have already resulted in the entry of a new product in the non-alcoholic space, Kanioura said.

PepsiCo had appointed Jagrut Kotecha as its new India chief in January. ET recently reported that PepsiCo’s snacks business has been facing intense competition and has been losing volume and market share. The company wants to get those back.

In India, PepsiCo employs about 2,400 people along with 4,000 contractual workers at its four sales units and four manufacturing facilities.