Nielsen, IRI and SPINS: Navigating The CPG Data Syndicators
A CPG in 2022 & 2023 has to use a broad set of data sources to convince a retailer that they can manage their business, help drive category sales and be a partner to be counted on. The main sources of data are syndicated, POS, panel & e-commerce. Shipment data is not used for this purpose.
Syndicated data refers to an aggregated collection of retail sales market data. Unlike direct retail data (POS), syndicated data grants an industry, market, or categorical look at the data rather than just featuring an individual retailer, brand, or product. The organizations that collect, curate and sell CPG market data — NielsenIQ, IRI and SPINS offer increasingly distinct syndicated data. Other data sets include panel, e-comm and others.
When choosing which syndicated data provider makes the most sense for your brand, you need to understand where each data company gets its data from, and which data is actual vs. estimated. The truth is that each of these syndicators have gaps in their coverage, because they all pay for exclusive access to data from different retailers, forcing their competitors (and the customers of those competitors) to have to deal with retail data coverage gaps. Some favor exclusive retail agreements and others must react to their competitors pursuing this tactic.
To overcome these gaps, many CPG manufacturers get data from multiple sources, but that creates another set of problems: When trying to compare the different vendors’ datasets, they find that the categories, labels and even the data itself doesn’t match up. When this happens, the CPG company can either ignore the differences, or invest in unifying the datasets, a manual process that typically requires resources, tools, time and some heavy lifting.
For CPG manufacturers deciding which syndicated data provider (or providers) to work with, let’s take a closer look at each of the major players in the industry.
Founded in 1923, NielsenIQ is an institution in the world of CPG market intelligence. Its extended All Outlet Combined (xAOC) multi-channel market offers its broadest view of US retail sales, and includes figures from food/grocery stores, drug stores, big box stores, convenience stores, and more.
After nearly a century in business, NielsenIQ has cultivated many valuable exclusivity deals with major retailers, each with their own national footprint of retail locations. Combined, they account for one of the largest consumer behavior data networks in existence. Manufacturers looking for retailer-specific data from any of the following channels can only get it (at the time of this writing) through NielsenIQ, either through a standard subscription, or in the case of Whole Foods, through membership in a specialized portal service.
Nielsen will provide it’s data through various products: Data extracts, Byzzer, AOD, Discover, and Connect.
Standard Exclusive Retail Data:
- Whole Foods
- Smart & Final
- Byerlys / Lunds
- Kinney Drugs
- Dollar General
- Family Fred’s
- Other Key Pet Channel Retailers
As a NielsenIQ Connected Partner, Bedrock Analytics can streamline data access and insight generation for NielsenIQ CPG data customers.
Unlike NielsenIQ and IRI, SPINS is focused mainly on the health and wellness ecosystem. While it may lack the mass-market reach of its bigger competitors, SPINS addresses the growing niche landscapes of natural, specialty, alternative, and gourmet product retailers, and thanks to a partnership deal, allows SPINS users to access IRI conventional data as well. There are many times when SPINS is the optimal choice for certain brands.
SPINS maintains exclusive data partnerships with a number of natural supermarkets (excluding Whole Foods), including major players like Sprouts Farmers Market. Its Natural Enhanced market data (natural + specialty & gourmet) exclusivity extends to specialty retailers such as Bristol Farms and The Fresh Market, and its stable of 10 alternative retailers includes McKay’s Market, Doc’s Food Stores and The Vitamin Shoppe. Combined, these partnerships make SPINS the easy choice for manufacturers looking to make a play for any of the smaller, health-forward customer segments that shop outside of the country’s highest-volume retailers.
SPINS will provide it’s data through various products: Data extracts, DaaP, and Satori
Though it’s a younger company, IRI has managed to secure enough data reach to be competitive with NielsenIQ. In fact, a number of its exclusive retail data deals could make it the ideal choice for some manufacturers. IRI’s MULO, or “Multi Outlet,” market offers high-level data across all major industries at the same general level as NielsenIQ. While IRI maintains only a fraction of the employee headcount that NielsenIQ does, it’s managed to cultivate strategic appeal for many CPG manufacturers thanks to a few unique selling points.
One such differentiator is IRI’s focus on securing Kroger as an exclusive retailer in it’s ecosystem.
Exclusive Retail Data (partially accessible through Kroger 84.51 to Kroger vendors)
Portal Data (accessible to NielsenIQ customers as a standalone purchase)
IRI will provide it’s data through various products: Data extracts, Market Advantage, and Unify
There are 3 key data providers for e-commerce: Profitero, Stackline and One-Click Retail. Many of our omni-channel customers buy these data sets to better capture what is sold on amazon.com and walmart.com. Each one of these companies approaches the forecasted volumes that they use to report category & competitive $ sales in different ways. Ensuring that they can map an Amazon ASIN code to your UPCs is key to integrating these data sets. We have successfully integrated these data sets at some of our larger global CPG customers.
While syndicated/POS data (above) is based on sales that happen in retail and is collected via point-of-sale scanners (scan data), these data companies don’t know much about the consumers that purchased the products. Panel data is based on sets of shoppers that have opted to submit information about their purchases to companies like NielsenIQ, IRI and Numerator. Numerator uses gamified apps such as ReceiptHog where users upload images of their supermarket receipts to gain “coins” and participate in coin accelerating sweepstakes. These coins are worth fractions of a penny which these users collect and trade for amazon gift cards. Numerator restricts the submission of the same retailer to 3x per day per user. Nielsen/IRI take a more traditional approach – they have a specific set of shoppers scan their receipts without the gamification, but with similar rewards. These data sets provide deep insights into the participants of their panels (demographics, cross-purchase, frequency of purchase, household penetration, basket sizes, etc). The motivation for the participants of these panels tends to be small amounts of money (“coins,” amazon gift cards, discounts) as nominal side income.
Harmonizing CPG Data with Bedrock Analytics
Bedrock works with any retail data from any source and any product listed above. For CPG Brands wanting to get a full picture of their product(s) performance it can require using many different data sets from various sources. There are another 20 retail portals that many CPGs have to string together to tell a full story (costco, whole foods, home depot, 7-eleven, market6, etc). These data sets usually come with vastly differing organizational structures and layouts, requiring additional time and effort to synthesize the sets together to get the holistic view. While Bedrock Analytics is not a data provider, nor do we collect any syndicated data, we have spent years in the industry and applied that learning to bring you a platform that harmonizes data sets and makes understanding this data and deriving insights possible, with minimal effort.
Bedrock solves this problem on our customer’s behalf by automatically harmonizing product and market data across data sources, allowing customer databases to be updated with new data in minutes, and allowing meaningful comparison across data sources. Through AI and ML, Bedrock’s capabilities can then take managing data to the next level by helping organize and automate the process of creating sales presentations and decks.
With each data syndicator offering its own unique combination of insights and intelligence, CPG manufacturers have no shortage of options to choose from. Making the right decision is a matter of first investing time and energy into getting to know your customers, before reconciling that knowledge against the syndication landscape. Match the known shopping habits of your customer archetypes with the syndicators that provide overlapping data sets, and you’ll be well on your way to dominating your unique corner of the CPG market.