How food manufacturers can get the data they need to successfully sell to retailers

August 29, 2023
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How food manufacturers can get the data they need to successfully sell to retailers

In Part 1 of our “Data-Driven Selling” blog post series, we outlined why it’s so important for manufacturers to have access to data in 2023. In Part 2, we highlighted specific data-driven insights available to food manufacturers and why they’re important. Here in Part 3, we share how manufacturers can actually get the perishable and CPG analytics solution needed to successfully sell to retailers.

Food industry data and analytics providers

There are various companies that offer a perishable and/or CPG analytics solution to food manufacturers. These include SPINS, IRI, Nielsen and others. Some of these companies have partnerships with each other, such as SPINS and IRI, to offer more affordable options to smaller or specialty manufacturers.

Generally speaking, these data providers charge a monthly subscription and release data once a month. Reports typically show data trends over a four-week time-period, as well as longer time-frames, such as 12 weeks and 52 weeks.

It is important to note that contracts with perishable and CPG analytics solution providers will prohibit clients from sharing complete data sets with anyone outside their organization. So, food manufacturers can buy data directly, but they can’t share it with their brokers, and vice versa. We’ll cover why this matters shortly.

How to pick a perishable and CPG analytics solution provider

Aside from budgetary considerations, there are several things food manufacturers should consider when assessing the best data partner for their needs. It will involve the manufacturer having a solid understanding of their needs, doing their homework, and asking prospective data providers the right questions.

All of the baseline data these analytics providers access should be exactly the same. This is because they’re all buying scanned data from food retailers. However, what differs is how each data provider categorizes the data and how they package it for their clients. And that can make all the difference in food manufacturers getting the right data-driven insights for their particular brand or product.

For example, one data provider may categorize a bag of chips based on flavor and size, while another may report on additional attributes, such as non-GMO or gluten-free. It’s important to know what attributes you need reported, and whether the perishable and/or CPG analytics solution provider can deliver that.

In addition, know that some retailers may only sell their data to certain data providers, or not at all. So, if you need data that’s broken out for specific retailers, make sure the data provider can offer that. And, if you’re looking to buy data related to specific geographical regions, confirm the correct retailers fall into those buckets.

As a final example, confirm with the prospective perishable and/or CPG analytics solution provider that all of your items fall into the category of data you plan to buy. For example, while your retail partner may categorize your frozen chicken nuggets product as “frozen chicken,” others may categorize them as “frozen appetizers.” Similarly, make sure that all competitive items also fall into the data set you’re buying, for effective comparison.

In short, it’s all about the way the data is outputted. We suggest asking prospective data providers for an example of the data set before signing up. Give them every UPC – and your competitive UPCs – to make sure all of your items are falling into the categories of data you plan to buy.

Have a plan for interpreting and using the data

Keep in mind that data sets can be difficult to read. So, while it’s great to have data, it’s critical food manufacturers are also able to analyze, interpret, parcel and present that data in meaningful ways.

When considering prospective perishable and/or CPG analytics solution providers, ask them what kind of analytical support they will give you on an ongoing basis. Or, consider using a tool that can assist with this process.

For example, at Bay Food, we use a tool called Bedrock. This data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) platform is instrumental in telling our team what the data is saying. It quickly and easily helps us determine why a retailer should carry a product, and maximizes our ability to tell that story in sales meetings, supported by hard data.

Why it’s important your broker also buys data

Remember, we mentioned earlier that perishable and CPG analytics solutions providers will prohibit clients from sharing complete data sets with anyone outside their organization. At Bay Food, we always recommend our food manufacturers buy data directly. But, since our clients can’t share that data with us, we also buy data ourselves.

Why’s this important?

Your retail food broker should be there to support your food brand from a regional and retailer level. They need deep insights into:

  • How your product is performing where they’re selling it
  • How you’re comparing to competitors,
  • What up-and-coming trends you should take note of

When it comes to getting a product on retail shelves, it’s imperative food manufacturers work with a broker that buys data. This is because you can’t sell the product without selling the why. Put another way, you can’t tell a compelling sales story if you don’t have the facts. And you don’t have the facts if you don’t have the data.

But, getting your product into stores is not your broker’s only job. They’re also responsible for managing your business long-term. The broker should be looking at the relevant data every month, to:

  • Keep your sales going
  • Know how your promotions are doing
  • Ensure incremental growth on base items
  • And the like

A broker that has continuous access to the data affecting your category and product is the one that can most likely course-correct or jump on new opportunities right away.

Conclusion on the necessity of data-driven insights

As does every sector, the retail food industry continues to evolve and advance. What has been historically a very relationship-driven industry is now also embracing technology, data and analytics.

Relationships very much still matter. In fact, it’s a point of pride for Bay Food Brokerage, evidenced by the thirty years we’ve invested in developing strong relationships with our manufacturer and retail partners.

Relationships are still very important for opening doors to meetings and category reviews. But, it’s now data that is largely driving decisions and determining what those manufacturer-retailer relationships look like moving forward.

Looking for a Southeast retail food broker that understands the importance of investing in a perishable and/or CPG analytics solution and leveraging data for clients? Contact us today.