Food and drinks brands could be making better use of often disparate customer data sources, drawing insights from both existing datasets, many of which may never have been previously used together, and new primary research to deliver competitive advantage, explains Leigh Morris, managing director of consumer analytics specialist Bonamy Finch.
Earlier this year a survey from the Wine and Spirits Trade Association reported that wine had overtaken beer as Britain’s most popular alcoholic drink, with supermarkets reporting a particular surge in sales of Argentinian red wine. Our own research often mirrors changes in sales trends closely, but it provides answers to the important question – why is this happening? Understanding how and when customers consume different drinks or, for example, on which occasions they purchase particular types of food, can provide valuable insights for brands looking to establish and maintain a competitive advantage. But how best to draw out these insights? And how best can they be disseminated to the wider organisation, to act on them?
The key is to merge the large number of data sources that often exist within the company, and supplementing with new research to fill any knowledge gaps, to create a unified understanding of consumers and consumption occasions. Once this has been done, we must then create links leading back to real-life consumer interactions, through customer databases, social media, or channel strategy – otherwise we will find it difficult to get a seat at the boardroom table.
Brands collect a considerable amount of data from their customers on a daily basis. They are not, typically, short of information. Customer satisfaction, social media tracking, brand tracking, sales, footfall, web traffic, customer databases, are all multiple lenses through which a brand can understand how consumers think and behave, and how their business is performing. Customers, in contrast, will expect brands to understand their needs and deliver on them regardless of the number of data points with which they interact. Treat these lenses in isolation and it can be hard to deliver anything but a piecemeal picture of what you need to do next as a business.
In many cases this is about working to do more with the customer data already in existence. Only effective analytics that draw these data sets together can provide the insights brands need to understand how their customers act now and might act in the future. Applying these insights in the real world – by engaging consumers at the right time, at the right place, and with the right mindset, is most important of all.
There are a number of ways to operationalise the insights you generate. Segmenting your customer database allows you to prioritise discrete groups of customers for tailored up-selling and cross-selling approaches. It also provides a framework for identifying high value customers, and those who might be at risk switching away from your brand or product completely. Combining online community information with other internal and externally-sourced datasets can provide a far more rounded picture of your consumers. Merging with ‘in-the-moment’ needs and context information on specific occasions will add so much richness to your understanding of how your brands are really consumed. It may even be possible to provide a needs profile of each outlet by understanding till receipts at different times of the day or week – to maximise the impact of messaging and promotions. With this knowledge it can be easier to plan marketing and promotional activities to address opportunities and threats, and ultimately help deliver business growth.
A more consumer focused, insight driven, operationally-minded approach to data, one which talks about using insight to understand consumer motivations, as well as behaviours, and then apply in different business functions, will help deliver genuine insight that will inform strategic thinking, improve sales and marketing effectiveness and ultimately deliver a competitive edge.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020