4 July 2014 - 10:22pm | by Hive

Big Data: what is the missing link for FMCG brands?

Big Data: what is the missing link for FMCG brands?Big Data: what is the missing link for FMCG brands?

Big Data has been extensively talked about as a strategic imperative for brands. So far, the buzz has focussed around individual purchase data collected by retailers, banks and utilities, but what about FMCG brands?

Unsurprisingly, global FMCGs such as Unilever and P&G are now committing to using data as a strategic tool to drive their businesses.

P&G’s supersavvyme community recently won the Data Strategy Award for Proximity’s work on ‘Mums on a Mission’. The promotion used both social media and coupons to track their consumers’ path to purchase.

Unilever’s chief marketing office, Keith Weed, says: “We are already able to tell a consumer when he’s walking in the park (we know his location) on a hot day (we know what the weather is like there), where the nearest place is to buy a Magnum and send him a code for a discount.”

Smaller manufacturers are catching on too. Paterson’s Shortbread and Berberana Wine are now using data to gain a competitive advantage at low cost. As first movers in their categories they have the advantage, knowing competitors will need to invest heavily to catch up.

Why does Big Data matter to FMCG?
Big Data enables brands to be more relevant and responsive to their consumers. Retailers, such as Tesco, are already masters at this with their loyalty card activity.

Combining individual consumer data with purchase data enables retailers to segment their customers in fine detail. Consequently, they can target consumers with personalised, relevant communications that really hit the mark.

While it’s clear that Unilever is embracing Big Data, I’m sure Keith Weed would agree that their example highlights the missing key element for FMCG brands: individual purchase data.

Did that Magnum discount code actually result in a sale? How do they know? Also, do they need to keep sending discount codes and continually discount the brand to keep him engaged? Or will this just annoy him and prompt him to opt out of Unilever’s database? And how does Unilever measure the return on inestment (ROI) of this campaign without accurate sales data?

Analysis companies such as Dunn Humby or Nielsen can help brands to measure overall sales performance, but not to know exactly who their consumers are and why they bought a certain item.

Brands that create Big Data that links individual purchase data to their promotional activity gain an indisputable advantage because they can accurately measure their ROI and respond intelligently. Using Big Data to drive intelligent promotions creates a massive opportunity for brands to increase sales without resorting to price discounting.

One category-leading FMCG brand is already successfully employing this tactic to sell 3.2 packs more per annum to its database; a 74 per cent increase versus their typical frequency of purchase.

Anchor Butter and its agency, whynot!, are currently using Hive’s intelligent promotional platform to gather individual purchase data from consumers and generate more active users from their database. By being more relevant and responsive, they have seen a 50 per cent increase in active consumers and recently picked up the IPM Gold Award for long-term loyalty.

How can FMCG brands link promotion data with individual purchase data?
Printing unique codes on packs unlocks the enormous potential Big Data holds for FMCG brands. Plus, thanks to modern technology, it is now cost-effective and can be implemented easily without disrupting production.

I can claim this with some confidence as Hive manages more than 2bn unique codes per year and has a 100 per cent success rate in enabling code printing.

When consumers register and enter codes, it enables brands to collect high quality behavioural and individual purchase data in a single view. They are then perfectly placed to engage consumers in a highly relevant and unique way.

This accurate, intelligent data can also distinguish fact from theory. For example, there is a distinct difference between what people say in surveys about their buying habits and how they actually purchase goods.

Intelligent promotions that are more relevant and responsive are key to building loyalty and driving sales. However, FMCG brands will only achieve this if they fully embrace Big Data that includes individual purchase data. It’s a strategic imperative at a low marginal cost that no brand can afford to ignore.

Jonathan Jackson
Managing Director
Hive

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