Using shopper data to develop insights that drive better decisions is an approach many modern retailers follow, but how many manufacturers are really reaping the rewards that granular shopper data can provide…
With many sources of market data available and product sales data, manufacturers may feel that they have sufficient insight to understand which of their brands are performing well and which may need intervention. But to get a true understanding of who is buying your products - why, how and when - a far more granular level of data is required.
Here are some examples of how shopper insight can give brands deeper knowledge of consumer habits in relation to their products:
Your promotions – are they really working?
If you're running a promotion for one of your products, you'll hopefully have sales figures which show whether there has been an uplift in LFL sales during the period of the promotion. An increase probably can be attributed to the promotional campaign. So far so good. But what else do you know about that promotion campaign which could help your future marketing activities and investments? Who is buying your product on promotion? Are you cannibalising sales from existing shoppers who would have bought it anyway at full price? Are they 'pantry loaders' who are buying in bulk, bringing their spend forward? Is it one shopper buying 3 products, or 3 shoppers buying 1 product each? Are you keeping and converting new customers who buy your brand on promotion? By knowing more about who your shoppers are and what motivates them to buy your product, you'll be able to steer your marketing spend more effectively and avoid wastage.
Brand loyalty – does it really exist?
It's one of the biggest challenges for brands in the face of changing consumer habits and proliferation of channels to purchase: generating and maintaining brand loyalty amongst shoppers. Common beliefs that brand loyalty no longer exists and mass marketing is required to keep continually topping up the funnel with new shoppers in order to keep brand sales buoyant are hard to dispute, unless you have data to prove otherwise. Yet if brand owners don't understand who is buying their product and where there might be headroom for growth, they will struggle to create the right environment for this to happen. Industry sales data might tell you what your market share is, but do you know what your shopper's repertoire is? Are they only buying your brand or buying competitor brands within the category as well? How frequently are your shoppers making purchases? What events or factors are prompting their purchase decisions: pack size first, then brand? Or the other way around? Understanding switching, cross-shopping and retention behaviours are key KPIs you can measure from granular shopper insights.
Giving your new products the best chance of success
New product development is viewed as a great way to encourage existing shoppers to buy more of your products, and attract new shoppers to your brand, yet the failure rate for NPD is remarkably high. Convincing retailers to give up shelf space for your new product can be difficult, and if it doesn't bring in the expected return on investment for both parties, retailers will be quick to de-list it. Understanding category dynamics and the likely universe of shoppers who have the highest propensity to purchase will create a solid foundation for your NPD. Using shopper insight can help you determine what proportion of the retailer's customers you should target with your new product – based on previous purchase behaviour and basket mix. Who has a history of trying new products and sticking with them? Getting an early read of 'trial and repeat' behaviour can help with targeting.
Category growth and shopper Needs
Brands and retailers can both be winners if they work together to grow categories. But understanding shopper needs is vital in making this happen. Key questions you'll want to answer are: What are the gaps in the range? Are there any un-met customer needs which could point to opportunities for growth? What is driving loyalty amongst shoppers within particular categories? Did your promotion or new product launch drive overall category growth? What's the relationship between certain products in the category, and which matter most to shoppers?
A great example of collaboration between manufacturer and retailer to co-create a promotional plan to drive sales and category growth can be viewed here.
There are many issues that will undoubtedly be keeping manufacturers up at night – generating and keeping brand loyalty, creating excitement for shoppers in a sustainable way that doesn't damage your brand (overpromotion), driving growth through innovation (NPD) and increasing brand penetration through retail outlets. The great news is that shopper insight can play a key role in solving these issues and giving your business competitive edge. Getting access to more granular data is the starting point…