This article kicks off a series of reflections on challenges, big questions and hairy topics that have ignited heated arguments through my career. I will focus on Category Development, Insights and Channel Strategy offering my own viewpoint – which is largely based on FMCG – and welcoming your thoughts, builds and objections. Smonday is a good time to put one’s thoughts in order and get energised for the week ahead.
Today I will tackle the question on the value of retailer-sourced shopper data (shopper transaction and/ or loyalty card data collected at the POS). Retailers are most of the time using these data to improve their operations and planning, but they are also making them available to manufacturers. Sometimes they come at a cost and the question I am called to answer time and time again is whether one should invest in yet another source of data.
My simple answer is YES!
I am a firm believer in the value of using a common currency in discussions with your customer and retailer-sourced data are just that. They can open the door to insightful discussions on how the category is being shopped, and allow for targeted Shopper Marketing and Category Reviews. I have been lucky enough to have worked with Efrain Rosario and Chally Moyen doing exactly that in the past.
However, not all retailer-sourced data are made equal. They come in all different shapes and sizes, different levels of granularity and they can afford varying levels of analysis. Subsequently, you need to budget for the cost to clean the data, produce the reports and the resources to do that. In many markets you may be very data rich and calculate a small ROI. My experience with Pierre Boussac and his approach showcased how a small additional investment can go a long way even in those markets!
In many countries, data and insights are quite scarce. I partnered with Jaime Loureiro Baptista to deliver a set of basic, standardised reports that empowered Customer Managers to have data-led discussions with their buyers. For them, having consistent access to retailer-sourced category data made such a big difference.
Of course it all needs to start with the passion and commitment to make a positive change for the category and its shoppers, and I was lucky enough to have experienced just that while working with Mohammad Malik. Mohammad saw an opportunity to improve the category presence for his customer. Lacking the funds to collect the necessary data and insights, we worked together to design a small ad-hoc survey. He devoted his own time and worked with his team to collect the observations and produce a few “killer” insights. Needless to say he managed to showcase how his proposal would improve category performance and won over his customer’s trust.
I know it’s often very difficult to navigate multiple sources of data and identify where yet another data-set should sit within the organisation (a topic I will cover on another Smonday reflection). However, I have found that in many cases the data are available, but we just do nothing with it. It’s not until one starts looking into the data that its shortcomings can be identified and one can derive meaningful insights, wouldn’t you agree?