Q&A with Bedrock Customer Success Robert Esquivel and Marlene Robinson
1. Can you please tell us a little about yourselves and what you do at Bedrock Analytics?
Marlene: I have been in the CPG industry since 1997, when I started at Clorox in the Hidden Valley & KC Masterpiece Division as a Sales Analyst. I have spent my entire career in this industry, focusing primarily on data analytics and syndicated data management. I’ve worked for Ghirardelli, Diageo and Safeway in Category Management and Buyer roles, leading teams and partnering with retailers and manufacturers to leverage data to maximize overall category growth. As having previously been a buyer for Safeway I have a unique perspective into what retailers are looking for from their vendor partners. I’m also an entrepreneur with two patents and a product that I sell globally, giving me insight into the go-to-market process and managing a brand. I’m a Customer Success Manager.
Robert: Hi there! My name is Robert and I started my career as a Category Analyst on Johnson & Johnson’s west field sales team. I was part of a sales leadership development program that gave me extensive category analytics training. After J&J, I worked at Clorox as a Senior Sales Analyst doing much more in-depth macro analytics. At Bedrock, I am a Customer Success Manager, ensuring that all of our customers are happy and utilizing Bedrock to its fullest so they have the insights they need to supercharge their growth.
2. What are the most important KPI’s a CPG company should measure when trying to understand their product’s sales performance?
Marlene: Determining the performance of a product boils down to how much is being sold where, when and at what price. An organization will have goals associated with each of these KPI’s, and having the ability to track performance against a goal is the key to understanding what’s going on with a product.
Robert: It all depends on where that company is at in the product life cycle. I always ask my customers what their top priority is. It is all dependant on that CPG’s situation. For example, a startup should likely focus on distribution, while a larger, more established company is more likely to focus on market share.
3. How can CPG companies become more data-driven and make analytics a core part of their culture?
Marlene: Embracing data is often a top-down element of the culture in a business. If leadership believes it’s important, then everyone else will. Providing sales and marketing personnel with access to user-friendly tools that help them to be more successful in their jobs is mission critical to building a data-driven culture. Not everyone can be an Excel guru or know how to extract data from the complicated syndicator systems. But everyone knows how to click and browse to find a key diagnostic trend in a chart or graph. Bedrock is the key to unlocking data’s potential.
Robert: Two things need to happen for a company to become data-driven. The first is a big cultural shift to transition to a data centric company. Leadership should take the charge. Furthermore, we recommend they invest in data. This can be anything from systems, training, and employees with data backgrounds. At Bedrock, we preach full integration within the company, allowing us to make every user data savvy.
4. What are the top traits or data points retailers look for when considering a CPG product for their shelves?
Marlene: Retailers want to bring things to the shelves that will drive overall category growth. While they have limited space on which to display the best of the best to their consumers, they want to bring only those items that will inspire consumers to purchase. Knowing the flavor trends of the category or the size, type, fragrance, etc. that is the most appealing or growing the fastest are usually good facts to know. A company needs to have data to prove that what they’re selling is going to bring dollars to the retailers pockets.
Robert: Is this going to grow my business (category)? That is what retailer buyers really care about. A vendor can showcase their performance at that specific retailer buyer’s category, but it all goes to nothing if that buyer’s business is declining. Therefore, it is important for vendors to showcase why consumers will come into the store to purchase their product. This can be in the form of growth, consumer attention, increases in distribution, etc.
5. What are some of the most common questions you hear from your clients?
Marlene: The top three most common questions I get are some variation of:
1. How can I convince a retailer to add my new item to my assortment? (The answer has a lot to do with how the current items are performing and if they’re going to bring incremental sales to the category with their new item.)
2. How can I help my team save time with monthly Category Reviews? (The answer to this is Saved Selections and Multi Export tool. We can help create the template for the entire team to follow and with a few clicks and an export, each sales team can be reviewing their business in minutes, rather than hours or days.)
3. How can I make sure my Distributors and Wholesalers are executing against the goals I have set for them? (With this the answer is usually in distribution, promotion or price tracking, which is all a few clicks away inside of Bedrock.)
Robert: The questions I get most often include:
1. How do I standardize my consumption and category review process?
2. How do I track my products versus my competition?
3. What story do I have? In the CPG world, “story” signifies a data message that shows your brand is outperforming competition and will drive that retailers category growth.
6. What are the main challenges CPG companies face that Bedrock is trying to fix?
Marlene: The big hurdle that I see CPG companies facing is finding the tools that allow sales people to sell without having to be data experts or having a large number of Analysts and Category Managers supporting them. Our platform allows sales people to become data savvy and analytically independent quickly and easily.
Robert: The main challenges CPG companies face is data. Retail buyers increasingly want to see the facts. This industry has yet to make the cultural transition to being both technology and data savvy. Bedrock is that solution. By signing up for Bedrock, you gain access to a data software that allows you to make that cultural shift.
7. How is Bedrock different from other analytics offerings for the CPG industry?
Marlene: We require very little training before a user feels like an expert using our platform. Syndicators like IRI and Nielsen often have 2 and 3 day courses that users have to enroll in to fully understand how to utilize the platform, and then they have to be Excel experts to use the data that has been extracted from the system. Bedrock truly democratizes the data for all skill levels.
Robert: The current analytic offerings have stuck to traditional methods such as Excel and Tableau. Bedrock is its own software, and our product innovation ensures data is easy for our customers and that cultural data-centric shift is that much easier. Furthermore, we offer the best service the industry has to offer. Every client gets their own Customer Success Manager and Analyst. This person is available at any time for questions and guidance. We even have an in-app chat function that lets you connect to a personal analyst at a moments notice!
8. What is the best advice you can give a CPG sales manager as they prepare a presentation?
Marlene: I often guide our users to the Ranking Reports first. Getting an understanding of what’s trending in the Retailer prior to building a selling story is important. Things like what’s been recently discontinued, what’s recently been added, how are the subcategories trending, and what is the health of the category compared to other retailers in the market. Also understanding how your item will help grow the category or market share is critical because speaking to the bottom line of the retailer is key.
Robert: What’s my success story and how does this benefit the person you’re selling to? If they ask themselves this they can craft a presentation that will have the buyer interested in taking their product.
9. How has the CPG industry evolved in recent years? What major shifts do you foresee in the next year or two?
Marlene: The shifts I foresee are that retailers are going to have to be more competitive in the e-commerce space. Delivery, online shopping, and additional online purchasing options that are not available in store but available for delivery — these are all things that consumers will demand, so CPG companies and retailers will have to adjust.
Robert: From the retailer side, the industry has seen massive shifts. Large retailers continue to acquire small retailers ,while e-commerce continues to grow as a sales channel. From the vendor side, companies have adapted more to data to support constant changes in the marketplace. I foresee the vendor side shifting towards technological solutions to continue adapting and growing.
About Bedrock Analytics
Bedrock Analytics powers the growth of today’s leading CPG manufacturers. The company’s cloud-based analytics platform and insights automation tools enable sales managers and business analysts to harness the power of data in order to craft powerful sales presentations that capture market share and drive increased revenue. Tracking more than $100 billion in CPG sales across more than 80 categories every month, Bedrock’s simple, powerful analytics platform and machine learning algorithms enable anyone within an organization to quickly and easily get the insights they need to close more deals. For more, visit bedrockanalytics.com.