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The Uplow'd By 84.51°

Technology Podcasts

84.51° launched The Uplow’d because we’re curious about so many things, and we’re betting you’re curious, too. Each month, we’ll delve into topics such as AI, Machine Learning and Data Science that we’re shaping, solving or simply learning about.


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84.51° launched The Uplow’d because we’re curious about so many things, and we’re betting you’re curious, too. Each month, we’ll delve into topics such as AI, Machine Learning and Data Science that we’re shaping, solving or simply learning about.




Shaping a new normal

When COVID-19 took hold in early 2020, the grocery industry found itself facing an unprecedented rate of change. Brands and retailers were suddenly forced to navigate near-constant shifts in customer behavior and consumer sentiment. As shoppers’ habits, preferences and norms continue to evolve even as the pandemic wanes, 84.51° has kept pace with ongoing behavioral analytics and consumer research, identifying a number of shopper trends that have emerged around concerns about safety, health, finances, sustainability and community. And, the research reveals critical insights about the future of the industry—in particular, the rise of the hybrid shopper and the importance of an omnichannel strategy in response.


A Summer of Celebrations with guest Barbara Connors

On this first episode of 2021, we welcome Barbara Connors, VP of Commercial Insights, to discuss the warm summer months ahead, and the consumer trends that CPGs can expect as we head into the second year of COVID-19 and the impact the vaccine roll out may have on consumers. Barbara walks us through the research the Commercial Insights team has completed to shed some light on what is shaping up to be a Summer of Celebrations. To read more about our Summer of Celebrations, visit As VP of Commercial Insights for 84.51°, Barbara is responsible for building relationships with more than 1400 clients across CPG, media & shopper marketing agencies, food associations, food marketers, product licensors and more to leverage 84.51°’s best-in-class insights solutions to drive sustainable growth for their business. She holds a Master of Marketing Research and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Georgia.


Consumer Perceptions and the 2020 Holidays with guests Erika Penrose and Logan O'Neil

On this special Thanksgiving episode of The Uplow’d, we welcome guests Erika Penrose and Logan O’Neil to discuss the recent research completed by 84.51° on consumers’ perceptions about COVID-19. We’ll discuss how shoppers’ attitudes about the pandemic have evolved over time since the outbreak, and how brands can expect this to impact spending around the upcoming holidays. To read the full report, Consumer Perceptions on Returning to Normal and its Impact on the Upcoming Holidays, click here: Erika Penrose is a Consultant on the Foundational Research team, where she is focused on bringing the voice of the customer to life. Through her role, she leads various consumer research survey-based projects. In addition to her work on mapping out the pain points of the customer journey and running a bi-weekly survey on COVID-related sentiments, she has also worked on the Topics and Trends program, providing educational insights on relevant industry trends. Erika joined 84.51° in 2019, and enjoys cooking new foods and trying to visit all of the Cincinnati parks. Logan O’Neil is a Senior Consultant on the Commercial Insights and Loyalty, Commercial Solutions team. In her role, she leads 84.51° Insights Product Marketing efforts, showcasing the value of 84.51° Insights products, solutions, and capabilities through the development and implementation of go-to-market strategies. Logan joined 84.51° in 2018 and hit the ground running, contributing to the pre-sales journey and launch of 84.51° Stratum – producing sales collateral and leading product demonstrations. Logan has also led and contributed to a number of sales enablement efforts, supporting 84.51° Insights Account Managers. Logan is an alumna of The University of Alabama and enjoys outdoor activities and traveling.


Winning the Digital Aisle with guests Kelsey Crookes and Peter Johnson

On this episode, guests Kelsey Crookes and Peter Johnson talk about the shift of grocery shopping from in-store to online. We’ll chat about the partnership between Kroger Precision Marketing and Microsoft PromoteIQ that is helping brands win business in today’s digital aisles. We also a shine a light on important holiday marketing trends in ecommerce. Curious about the Roku episode referenced in today’s episode? Click here: Kelsey Crookes is a Lead Consultant for 84.51°’s Product Strategy & Innovation team. In her role, she leads the strategy and development for Product Listing Ads, part of the Kroger Precision Marketing portfolio, and is focused on helping brands connect with shoppers at the point of purchase. Kelsey joined 84.51° in 2016 supporting Kroger’s Produce and Floral Merchandising business and brings an analytical and problem-solving mindset to her work in the media space. Kelsey is a Miami University alumna and an avid reader and baker. Peter Johnson leads the Microsoft PromoteIQ Client Partner team dedicated to Kroger Precision Marketing. His goal is to empower brands with the strategic insights needed to leverage the PromoteIQ platform to connect with Kroger shoppers. He is a veteran in the digital advertising space with over 15 years of experience. Peter is an alumnus of NYU, and a dedicated New Yorker who loves all the food, culture and diversity the city has to offer.


Testing the Power of Plant Based Foods with guests Julie Emmett, Jessica Mahan and Eric Wolfe

Today on The Uplow’d, we welcome Julie Emmett, Jessica Mahan and Eric Wolfe to discuss an in-store test conducted on behalf of the Plant Based Foods Association to uncover how Kroger shoppers are responding to plant-based meat products across the midwestern U.S. We’ll learn about the surprising results of this test, and what it means for the future of plant-based meats. The test was also recently featured in an article by the Specialty Food Association. For more information, visit: Julie Emmett is Senior Director of Retail Partnerships for the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA). She collaborates with retailers on behalf of PBFA members by leading a multitude of groundbreaking initiatives to grow plant-based foods. Julie holds a Master of Business Administration from St. Mary’s College, is certified in nutrition education, and is thoroughly passionate about understanding what is driving growth within plant-based foods. Jessica Mahan is a Lead Insights Account Manager at 84.51°, where she connects associations, boards, product licensors, marketing and media agencies with leading customer data and insights. In addition to her work scoping and executing the causal impact test with Kroger and the Plant Based Foods Association, she has also worked closely with Kroger’s leading CPG and supplier partners in the Grocery and Fresh categories, consulting on merchandising strategy and linking companies with 84.51° customer-first analytics. Eric Wolfe is a Director of Merchandising Consulting for 84.51°. In his current role, he helps clients identify areas and processes where insight can be infused to make better business decisions. During his 10-year tenure with 84.51°, Eric has worked on a variety of initiatives including leading research and development of strategy for Fortune 500 CPGs, development of new data science capabilities across retail channels, and progressing Kroger’s understanding of customers’ needs within the Meat and Seafood categories. Eric holds a Master of Business Administration from The University of Kentucky.


SPECIAL EDITION: Data Science Development Program with guest Tyler Uher

On this special edition of The Uplow’d, we welcome Data Scientist Tyler Uher to discuss the 84.51° data science development program. Tyler, who joined 84.51° in June 2019 via the program, tells us what drew him to choose a career with 84.51°, and what the recruiting process was like for him. Tyler has a BBA in Business Analytics from the University of Notre Dame. In his current role, he supports the 84.51° Media business team by building tools to deliver insights that consultants can use to show measurable worth of brand investment in Kroger Precision Marketing’s owned and operated assets.


GIS Hunger Mapping with guests Charles Hoffman, Dr. Robert Kahle and Gloria Roderick

On this episode of The Uplow’d, we welcome 84.51° Data Scientist, Charles Hoffman, along with Dr. Robert Kahle and Gloria Roderick from the Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston to talk about using modern science to fight hunger. We explore how geographic information systems (GIS) technology has been applied to map the areas where community members are experiencing hunger and help non-profit organizations best allocate their free food resources. Charles Hoffman joined 84.51° in 2018, and has conducted analytics research in support of the company’s health and beauty care and general merchandise missions, as well as the Kroger/ Ocado partnership. He has a wealth of analytics experience from his previous position as Manager of Analytic Consulting with Catalina Marketing, as well as his commission with the U.S. Army where he served for three years as an intelligence officer. Charles has a Master of Science in Consumer Analytics, as well as a Master of Business Administration from Xavier University. Dr. Robert Kahle is the Associate Director of the Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston. In his role, he designs, implements and supervises research, evaluation and strategic planning for non-profit and local government organizations to address problems affecting vulnerable populations, especially those experiencing homelessness or hunger. Prior to joining the Riley Center, Bob operated the research and planning consultancy, Kahle Research Solutions, for 23 years, and was the co-founder and co-director of the Urban Safety Program at Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies. He received his Doctorate in Sociology from Wayne State University, and his Bachelor and Master in Sociology from Ohio University. Gloria Roderick is the Lead GIS Analyst for the Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston, where she leads an effort to provide GIS analysis for nonprofit programs, primarily to determine equitable food distributions based on social determinants of health and economic need. She has spent her career serving non-profit organizations in a variety of roles from fundraising, planning and public relations, to data visualization and statistic analysis that create digestible data to inform and guide leadership’s decisions. Gloria received a Master in Public Administration and a Bachelor in Religious Studies from College of Charleston.


AutoMINs with guests Amanda Jack, B.J. Schmidt and Greg Noble

On this episode of The Uplow’d, our guests Amanda Jack, B.J. Schmidt and Greg Noble give us a behind-the-scenes look into what goes into store ordering, and how the recent introduction of a system called AutoMINs puts data behind each order placed to keep store shelves stocked. Amanda Jack is a Lead Solution Design Consultant for the 84.51° SCORe & Operations Research Missions, which services Kroger Supply Chain & Retail Operations. Over the past two years, her focus has been on delivering 84.51° store ordering science solutions (specifically Forecasting and AutoMINs) to Kroger. Prior to that, Amanda worked in various Merchandise Planning and Inventory Management roles, most recently as a Strategic Planning Manager for Nike. B.J. Schmidt is Senior Manager- Retail Operations for Kroger, where he leads a team of process design specialists for the evolution of store ordering to centralized service and enterprise technology. The projects he oversees include product design, development and scaled enterprise rollout. Greg Noble is 84.51°’s Director of Data Science for Operations Research. He manages a team of data scientists developing solutions that use science to improve processes and streamline operations for Kroger customers and associates. Greg holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from Wright State University.


Creating a More Effective Media Ecosystem for CPGs with guests Halli Goddard and Gaurav Shirole

Today on The Uplow’d, we welcome guests Halli Goddard (Advanced TV Product Lead, KPM) and Gauarv Shirole (Head of Measurement, Roku) to discuss the partnership between Kroger Precision Marketing and Roku. We discuss the new ways this partnership is able to connect CPGs to shoppers, while also closing the loop between ad spend and sales to make media dollars more accountable. Halli Goddard is a Lead Consultant at 84.51° focused on Product, Strategy, & Innovation for Kroger Precision Marketing. She is focused on developing KPM’s Advanced TV offering and connecting with top video publishers and providers finding ways to make media more effective. In addition to her Lead Consultant role, Halli is a University of Missouri alum, Cleveland native and has spent ten years working at advertising agencies in media strategy. As Director of Ad Measurement for Roku, Gaurav Shirole is focused on enabling better targeting and measurement of TV impressions. He has spent the last 8 years working in TV analytics and attribution in a variety of different roles including traditional consulting as well as political analytics. Gaurav is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.


SPECIAL EDITION: ITOPiA and Creating an Introvert-Friendly Workplace with guests Jennifer Kahnweiler and Ryan Showalter

On today’s SPECIAL EDITION of The Uplow’d, we welcome guests Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces, and 84.51° Director of Consulting, Ryan Showalter, to talk about ITOPiA. This associate resource group was created specifically to provide support and resources for 84.51°’s introverted employees. We’ll talk about the unique challenges that introverts face in the workplace, and the ways that employers can fine tune their workplaces to be sure they’re taking advantage of introverted employees’ quiet strengths. Jennifer Kahnweiler, PhD, is a bestselling author and one of the top global leadership speakers on introverts. She has written several books on the topic of introversion, including The Introverted Leader, Quiet Influence, The Genius of Opposites, and her newest work, Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces. Jennifer has been a learning and development professional and leadership speaker at leading organizations including Merck, Kimberly Clark, NASA, Bosch, The American Chemical Society, Freddie Mac and the US Centers for Disease Control. Ryan Showalter leads the Fresh MPCL team for 84.51° to continue to drive value for Fresh clients and generate revenue growth. In 2019, he founded ITOPiA at 84.51° to focus on the dynamics of introversion in the workplace. An Ohio resident and father of three, Ryan is a graduate of DePaul University (MBA) and Denison University.


84.51°’s Qualitative Research Community: Understanding the COVID-19 Impact with guest Natalie Wozniak

On this episode of The Uplow’d, we welcome Senior Researcher Natalie Wozniak to talk about her role on 84.51°’s Consumer Research Team and some of the qualitative research that they undertake. We’ll learn about how her work on the Foundational Research Pillar answers fundamental questions about our customers and supports the broader Consumer Research team’s work on customer attitudes and sentiment. This work compliments 84.51°’s ability to identify consumer behaviors by answering the broad questions to understand why these behaviors exist. Natalie will also explain some of her team’s findings from analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Kroger shoppers, and how they’re using these findings to affect the changes that help shoppers deal with the current situation. Natalie is responsible for bringing the customer voice to 84.51° projects, analyzing attitudinal data from quantitative and qualitative consumer research. She received her Bachelor degree in Marketing and Psychology from the University of Notre Dame, and has been focused on keeping the customer at the center of decisions for 84.51°, Kroger, and their partners for the past five years.


Algorithm Fairness with guests Jeanette Mumbeck and Grant Gilkerson

This month’s episode of The Uplow’d is a special virtual edition. Our host Dan O’Keeffe welcomes 84.51°’s Jeanette Mumbeck and Grant Gilkerson to talk about Algorithm Fairness. We discuss the prevalence of algorithms in modern society, and how it’s actually possible for bias to enter into the results they produce. Jeanette and Grant explain the steps that 84.51° is taking to eliminate bias, and offer their suggestions for actions other data scientists can take to help promote fairness in their work. Jeanette Mumbeck is the manager for the 84.51° Science Function – a group dedicated toward longer-term research and development. Her area covers multiple disciplines such as Forecasting, Optimization and Machine Learning, and focuses not only on scientific advances, but also scale. She has a long history with the Kroger family, playing a significant role across multiple initiatives to drive data and science decision making into businesses' processes – from warehouse and store supply chain systems to price optimization. Jeanette has over 20 years of experience in applied sciences for national and international retail. She holds a B.Sc in Computer Science, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Grant Gilkerson currently leads a team of more than 20 data scientists who deliver recommender systems and customer insights to Kroger’s e-commerce business. He joined the company in 2012 within the Communications and Media practice, before transitioning to data science lead for the Kroger Customer Knowledge team prior to his current role. Grant has more than 20 years of experience developing impactful solutions across multiple industries that deliver outcomes that make a positive impact on business and customers. Grant holds an M.S. in Economics from the University of Kentucky.


SPECIAL EDITION: Diversity and Inclusion with guest Terron Wilson

On this special edition of The Uplow’d, we celebrate International Women’s Day with 84.51° Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Terron Wilson. Terron brings us up to speed on all the efforts to maintain 84.51°’s culture of Diversity and Inclusion through programs that not only educate and create awareness, but affect real change. Besides being the right thing to do, we’ll learn about why this is so important for a data science organization, and also how it impacts our bottom line. As the architect of 84.51°’s D&I roadmap, Terron is responsible for developing and executing strategies to ensure the company maintains its culture of diversity and inclusion. With more than 25 years of professional experience, Terron has been with 84.51° since 2008, spending over 10 years on the Customer Communications team as a Campaign Manager and Partnership Manager. She was a founding member of 84.51°’s Insightful Inclusion Council in 2016, and is on the board of directors for the non-profit professional group, Women in the Marketplace.


Enterprise Data Science Academy with guest Alex Gutman

In this episode of The Uplow’d, we sit down with Lead Data Scientist, Alex Gutman, to talk about how 84.51°’s Enterprise Data Science Academy is raising the data science IQ of 84.51° and Kroger. We’ll learn about Alex’s Fulbright grant to teach about technology in Kyrgyzstan, and talk about all the things that Artificial Intelligence can do (and more importantly, what it can’t do). Alex has a Ph.D. in Applied Math and Statistics. He oversees training, short courses, and consulting to enable the science of machine learning at 84.51° and embed the technology in more of its processes.


NICS & Predictive Analytics with guest Mike Wessel

In this episode of The Uplow’d, we welcome Director of Kroger Merchandising, DSD & Alcoholic Beverage, Mike Wessel. Mike gives us the low down on the 84.51° New Item Concept Screener (NICS) tool, and how it provides insight into how well a new product might resonate with customers before it ever hits the shelves. Mike Wessel works with Kroger Merchandising Teams analyzing loyalty card data to solve for customer needs, which includes consulting on which products are the best to sell. A Cincinnati native and father of three, Mike is an avid reader and home improvement aficionado. Besides his work in merchandising consulting, Mike also holds a law degree and is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio.


Data Science Innovation in Personalizing the Customer Experience (PTCE) with guest Lauren Littlejohn

On this episode, we welcome Director of Data Science for Kroger Precision Marketing, Lauren Littlejohn, to discuss DS Innovation in PTCE. As a founder of KPM, Lauren shines light on all the ways 84.51° makes every interaction customers have with Kroger and its suppliers as relevant as possible. Lauren Littlejohn is a Director of Data Science at 84.51°, focused on using data and machine learning to improve campaign performance under Kroger Precision Marketing. She has spent over four years learning the media landscape and helped launch KPM. In addition to her Director role, Lauren leads her company’s charity engagement with the Freestore Foodbank and spends her free time traveling and volunteering with International Students.


Personalizing the Customer Experience in the Kroger App with guest Kate Cullen

On this edition of The Uplow’d, our host Dan O’Keeffe sits down with Lead Consultant - Product, Strategy and Innovation for 84.51°, Kate Cullen. We discuss the Kroger app, and all the ways it helps to personalize shoppers' customer experience, including in-store enhancements such as digital shelf edge communications. Kate Cullen is a Lead Consultant at 84.51° focused on Product, Strategy, & Innovation for Kroger Precision Marketing. She has spent over five years learning how to successfully launch effective products for alternative revenue streams, leverage data to make decisions, and create engaging moments with customers. In addition to her Lead Consultant role, Kate is a Purdue alumnus, an avid reader, and an eager traveler of the world.


Spatial Analysis with guest Greg Anderson

84.51° Data Scientist Greg Anderson joins us on this episode of The Uplow’d to discuss Spatial Analysis. We’ll learn about this cutting edge data science that helps Kroger plan new store locations, existing store remodels, and where an Ocado hub or spoke will perform best.


How 84.51° Data Science Drives the Natural and Organic Movement with guest Alex Trott

This month, Dan is joined by 84.51° Lead Consultant for Kroger Merchandising, Alex Trott, to discuss Kroger’s Natural and Organic brands. We’ll discover how Kroger selects the natural and organic brands for its stores, as well as what Kroger does differently to make these premium products more accessible to all customers. We’ll talk about the future of the natural and organic movement, and find out what Hollywood star Jennifer Garner and Kroger have in common!


Automated Machine Learning: DataRobot and Open Source with guest Brandon Greenwell

On this month’s episode of The Uplow’d, 84.51° Data Scientist and author of the widely-popular R package, Partial Dependence Plots (pdp), Brandon Greenwell, discusses Automated Machine Learning and the benefits that DataRobot and a number of open source tools are bringing to the table.