How Emerging Brands can Craft Compelling Sales Stories with Limited Data Sets
Bedrock Key Takeaways
- You don’t need mountains of data to find an actionable key insight
- An insight can tell a story, a story can inform a selling strategy
- Limited data sets can contain a variety of insights
Data-backed analyses and visualizations are the bread and butter of the CPG industry (outside of actual bread and butter, that is).
Syndicated data has transformed how we distribute, package, and market products, while informing every major decision made across sales and executive teams. With data, your emerging brand can become a CPG sales giant. Without it, your entire company faces great risk.
Which raises a question — what happens when your analysts don’t have enough data?
Limited Data is Better than No Data
Data can be expensive. An entry-level package could cost anywhere from $20k to $60k per year, and that’s just for starters. Generally speaking, companies can afford this data baseline dataset once they hit the $5-$10 million range.
Of course, that assumes that a company is capable of analyzing that data. Lots of small and emerging brands don’t know how to utilize data sets once purchased, or cannot afford to hire analysts who can comprehensively study it. Any executive who decides to spend $100,000 on limited data wants to be absolutely certain they’re getting valuable insights. When they can’t, the data needs get pushed back for another day — a day that might never arrive.
There are some silver linings here. First of all, even limited data packages offered by providers like SPINS can meet most needs. Secondly, there are analytics tools (like Bedrock) that exist precisely to help emerging CPG companies that have limited data resources and expertise.
But the most important positive detail? You can still construct an engaging sales narrative using the most limited of datasets. CPG stories draw on trends and opportunities, but at their core, they present an actionable insight that says something about your product category. Having more data can tell a more comprehensive story, but for a startup that isn’t always possible, or even necessary.
How to Work with Limited Data
Here is the starting point for all emerging brands: if you have enough data to find the thread of a story, you have an actionable insight. Your marketing efforts, sales presentations, and promotions can all be based around developing the potential of that insight. With time and the right strategy, it will grow into something much bigger.
Actionable insights can be generated from all kinds of limited data sets:
- Trends: Ideally, brands want at least 12 weeks of sales data to establish an industry trend, though it is possible to go smaller with the right insights. For example, let’s say you sold 8 premium chocolate bars four weeks ago. This week, you sold 40. While these data points are far from comprehensive, they tell a clear story about product growth that grants you an edge in presentations.
- Seasonal sales: As is the case with chocolate sales increasing around Easter, for example, most product categories fluctuate depending on the time of year. For brands with limited data, seasonal sales are a great way to track year-over-year growth.
- Retailer Portal Data: Many of the retailers that an emerging brand might already be in offer data to manufacturers at little to no cost. While this may be limited to your own items within the stores (i.e. no information on competitive items), it can still help you create stories at that retailer, or similar format stores within the region. Retailer portal data can also help fill in gaps when you have limited banners within your Syndicated data package.
Once you have a key insight and a story to tell, it’s easier to build a strategy. As an emerging brand, market segmentation is often the quickest way to help your product stand out in a unique sub-category. Perhaps your cereal doesn’t compete with mainstream brands, but it’s far more effective against organic cereals. What’s your specific benefit within that segment? Is your organic cereal the best tasting? Fastest-selling? Does it have the highest dollar per point of distribution? Each detail lends more weight to your sales narrative.
Always remember that you aren’t selling directly to customers — you are targeting retailers with your presentations. You need stories and insights that show value across an entire product category. Your buyers want to know what’s in it for them, so it’s important to highlight these two talking points:
- Velocity: Perhaps you haven’t sold many items, but did they sell quickly? If a retailer only shelves three items and they sell every week, that’s worth increasing distribution for.
- Distribution metrics: What do your dollar sales per point of distribution look like? Limited sales data can certainly be reframed if your product has the highest dollar sales when compared to established brands.
Emerging startups will always face challenges in acquiring data that paints a complete picture of a category, brand, or product. That said, limited data is not the end of your story. If you have just enough information to generate an actionable insight, it’s still possible to enter sales presentations with your best foot forward.