“The world is now awash in data and we can see consumers in a lot clearer ways.”
Max Levchin, PayPal co-founder.
Data and its corresponding metrics drive almost every industry in the modern economy. It does not matter if the business is real estate, financial, medical, politics, technology, or food & beverage. Data collected from a myriad of sources influences every decision made in business, and the art and science of data collection, interpretation, and application will only continue to evolve. This rings especially true in the food & beverage industries. If we analyze how data collection impacts and affects the beverage industry, we will see that analyzing data has become one, if not THE, key ways of decision making for companies from the CEO level down to the route salesperson filling orders at the retail level.
Companies have become extremely adept at data collection from the retail level down, and that data translates into decisions about what products are purchased and where they will be placed on retailers’ shelves. Tracking beverage purchases at the item level in retail outlets, and even online, has allowed America’s largest beverage companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, and Kraft to make informed, calculated decisions that has resulted in considerable gross profits over the last decade. Data derived from consumer purchases is heavily analyzed and disseminate, and allows company employees and executives to deftly make decisions about merchandising, product assortment, and supply chain. By employing up-to-the-minute technology, decision makers have gleaned incredible insight that allows them to apply data and make it work for the good of the company.
Consider this. The ACME Cola Company, through technology and analytics, might learn that their customers in the South East are purchasing 20% more of their regular cola products than are purchases in other regions of the country. In addition, through the same technology and analytics, The ACME Cola Company learns that their customers in the Pacific Northwest have less of a preference for “regular” cola products, and actually prefer a product that is “diet” in nature. Furthermore, they may also learn that the Midwest region actually has a preference for products that are not cola, but are actually derived from sources such as citrus. This data now proves to be invaluable to The ACME Cola Company because they can now determine their needs for supply, production, distribution, and marketing. In addition, the information now allows The ACME Cola Company to create a set of financial projections for the present and the future.
Data, and its corresponding analytics, has led to what can be called the individualization of the retail beverage market. At one point, consumers were lumped into a “catchall” of sorts, and the products that were good for one region was good for the other regions. That is simply not the case any longer! The data that is collected in today’s economy has resulted in consumers being considered on an individual basis, and not as a collective group of buyers. This allows beverage companies to create and deliver an individualized experience that their current and future customers will respond to with gusto. By delivering a well researched and “customized” experience to consumers, beverage companies can expect with confidence that their sales will increase, and gross profits will likewise grow.
To successfully capitalize on consumer and marketplace data, a company will require the use of cloud architecture and technology to analyze and apply the data that they collect. Companies will need to identify and diligently monitor their respective KPIs (key performance indicators) in order to make the best decisions for the company. In addition, companies can use data collected from a variety of social media platforms to glean an insight into the public’s perception of their products. Facebook is the example par excellance of how social media can be used to influence and shape a company’s direction in their respective markets. The purchasing and systematic usage of advanced analytic software is an absolute must to be able to pull all of the available data from product sales, social media, advertising initiatives, and other sources into a discernible and useful trove of information that beverage companies can capitalize on and use to their financial advantage.
Data and its corresponding analytics is ever-evolving dynamic. In 2018 beverage companies, and the beverage industry as a whole, must embrace an unwavering commitment to the collection, interpretation, and implementation of the data that is available to them. Companies will need to be able to respond to changes in the marketplace in real-time to insure their financial success on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. The only certainty in life is change! Those companies that are unable or unwilling to embrace the opportunities that big data brings to the beverage industry are certainly not long for this world.
Knowledge is power, and power was meant to be wielded!