The real value in any data is its accuracy. One of the biggest challenges syndicated data providers have is in keeping up with all the new item introductions in addition to any item changes manufacturers make. I spent a good part of my career while working for some of the largest CPG companies in the industry fixing database issues for all of the syndicated data providers. Specifically getting them to accurately code new items in their database in addition to getting them to properly categorize and segment items. At this point, the industry was focused only on basic item segmentation.
The industry has changed a lot over the last 30 years primarily due to the changes in consumer purchasing behavior. Shoppers want what they want and if they can’t find their favorite products at their local retailer they have a myriad of choices including online retailers. Shoppers are less willing to settle as a result. This is forcing retailers and brands to rethink their product innovation and merchandising strategies.
The reason this matters is because brands and retailers are at the mercy of the syndicated data providers for quality product information. Sadly, I have yet to work with any syndicated data that accurately reflects the way consumers shop the category. As a result, I spend a lot of time cleaning the data up before I begin working on any client projects. To further complicate things, the brands I typically work with are disruptive natural organic brands creating new categories and product segments. These include product attribution that the syndicated databases either overlook or commoditize. For example, I remember doing a project for gluten-free brand long before gluten-free appeared in any database.
The strength of any category management project lies in the quality of the data and the ability for the category manager to tease out actionable insights that helped drive profitable and sustainable brand and category growth. In the absence of rich product attribution, category overviews will continue to overlook the factors responsible for driving category sales. This is evidenced by the fact that most every product category is either flat or declining in the absence of natural organic products. Put another way, traditional category management strategies tend to overlook the key product attributes that appeal to health-focused shoppers.
One of the biggest challenges all brands face is not having consistent robust content across their entire sales funnel. From their online presence to the content retailers rely on to educate their shoppers, confusing and inconsistent messaging is a key factor in cart abandonment and lost sales. I recently sat down with Dev Ganesan, ItemMasters CEO. We discussed ItemMaster’s current capabilities as well as their future plans. This is one of the primary pain-points they are working to solve. One example of their commitment to making the shopper journey easier is their recently released WellnessMaster, a tool that helps shoppers easily choose and identify the meal solutions that align with their dietary wants and needs. ItemMaster is working hard to revolutionize the ways brands interact with shoppers.