Smart Data, the new El Dorado for Category Managers

Posted in: FMCG, Shopper Insights by Johanna Toiviainen | Comments to this post

The challenge facing consumer goods brands today is to determine how to satisfy consumer demand the best, while maximizing product sales.

With ever more demanding clients and distributors, manufacturers are continuously seeking to improve the visibility and the profitability of their products. Building a product portfolio and optimizing its distribution are indispensable tasks that fall to Category Managers (CatMan), who serve as essential bridges between marketing and sales.

Their main objective is to always maintain an all-knowing perspective on how to roll out and optimize the product range. Whenever possible, they need to be informed about:

references to their products;

the prices charged for them;

ongoing sales;

shortages at each point of sale/chain;

the competition’s movements;

and any faint signals hinting at upcoming market developments.

Managing all of that information means being capable of identifying levers for growth and the strengths and weaknesses in the distribution of their products.

In this respect, Big Data undeniably marks a promising advance. In an increasingly interconnected world, the massive explosion in information is becoming a crucial component in the success of any sales and marketing campaign. Clearly, brands cannot miss out this new black gold, at the risk of their competitors leaving them in the dust. This major development in the digital ecosystem is oddly reminiscent of the dawn of the Internet. There are those who jumped on board in time, and then there are the rest. In the cemetery of brands and distributors, “the rest” are overrepresented.

However, only the smart use of data can give Category Managers a clear view of the sector and a lasting competitive advantage. In reality, the act of collecting data, in and of itself, is of little interest. All of the value lies in how it is processed and presented, and in the incorporation of each business’ unique features. At the end of the day, information needs to be quantitative, qualitative and intelligible, which essentially means a shift from Big Data to “Smart Data”.

As a result, the challenge is to answer the question of how to make this flood of data simple and readable, so that Category Managers can take full advantage of it. This is the promise of the new digital applications being offered to sales and marketing departments at consumer goods companies.

Thanks to a comprehensive, intuitive, user-friendly scanning interface, platforms like Swaven’s Data Product present the information in real time and in the simple and understandable manner that CatMan need in order to optimize management of their businesses. In addition to providing access to digital distribution (DD) and the share of their product mix and those of the competition, this type of platform also develops business intelligence tools that can trigger actions rapidly to use the most promising levers. Gone are the days of Excel files with thousands of rows and dynamic cross-tabulation, only to obtain outdated information in the end.

From here on out, the goal is in sight for CatMan, who are now able to steer and refine the rollout of their strategies in real time: to maximize the profitability of their product range and fully satisfy their customers.

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