This past Wednesday, the 14th annual Shopper Insights in Action conference concluded in Chicago, Illinois. As always, the event focused on strategies to improve shopper activation across all kinds of consumer retail categories and channels, providing the shopper side of consumer marketing (and its research suppliers) an engaging forum to share ideas and success stories.
From a beverages and food service perspective, the three-day event at Navy Pier left me considering the need to address three, macro-level organizational challenges in the drinks industry:
1. Using ‘big data’ more effectively
As the event’s exhibit hall demonstrated, there are a myriad of methodologically different ways to collect, measure and interpret the in-store responses of consumers to your products and shelves. As an industry that frequently delivers and merchandises its products through a two-tier bottling system (or other independent direct delivery partners), measuring the effectiveness of in-store activity - displays and product location - is vital. How can marketing and channel management teams demonstrate that ‘soft’ information on shopper response, preference or opinion is robust and indicative of volume growth or incremental revenue? Brands and their retail partners must work harder to interpret and contextualise data and insights in order to effectively advocate for change within their businesses.
Research focused and data literate leadership certainly helps. Keynote speaker Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco plc, spoke about the need to improve the dissemination and understanding of data within large retailers and other organizations. As research tools become more powerful and useful – from generating understanding of potentially new, developing markets, to specific, localised consumer segments and their behaviours – it remains important that these insights are clear and actionable while reaching the right pairs of eyes.