What CPG Sales Teams Can Learn from Pixar About Storytelling

Bedrock Analytics

by Bedrock Analytics

September 6, 2020

Name the one thing Pixar does best. No, not animation, although the movie studio behind hits such as Cars, The IncrediblesToy Story and Coco is certainly good at the visual aspects of its craft. But the one thing they are known to do better than maybe any other movie studio in the world is storytelling. If you’ve ever been drawn in by the heart-wrenching storyline of just about any of its movies, you know exactly what we mean.

Theme. Suspense. Structure. Style. Pixar’s storylines have them all. And as you might suspect, the company has boiled down the art of storytelling to a proven formula. It goes something like this:

  1. Once upon a time, there was ____________.
  2. Every day, _____________.
  3. Then one day, __________.
  4. Because of that, _________.
  5. Because of that, __________.
  6. Until finally, ________________.

Within this framework, Pixar is able to get people to laugh, to cry, to shriek with joy and ultimately to fall in love with its movies. It’s a basic and yet extremely flexible storytelling framework that offers lessons well beyond the world of scriptwriting and movie making. For CPG companies, it offers the perfect lens through which to view their sales presentations and ask how they can incorporate better storylines into their pitch decks.

Bedrock Core’s Storylines feature

At Bedrock, we believe that the best sales presentations are those that tell compelling and convincing stories. In fact, one of the primary features of Bedrock Core is what we call “Storylines,” a series of related charts and Visualizations that layer on top of one another to create a guided data story. While Bedrock Core is a powerful analytics tool that will give you any data you need to understand the sales and performance of your brand, its products and your competitors, Storylines takes these data points and presents them in a narrative-like structure that makes it easier for you — and for your retail partners — to get to the true insights.

There are distinct Storylines for your product’s (or its competitor’s) brand, market, velocity, promotion, shares, pricing, distribution and ranking. They don’t always stick exactly to the Pixar formula, but Pixar’s storytelling principles can certainly be found in the way each of our Storylines walk audiences through a sequence of data events, or “chapters,” that lead to a final, focused insight.  When organized into a single slide, we call it a Bedrock Storyboard.

Let’s take a look at how this storytelling framework might apply to a fictional cereal company.



Once upon a time, there were a number of cereal brands

Our Storylines features lets you set up the narrative of your story by presenting retailers with important background details. For instance, you could show how all of the top cereal brands perform in a certain market or for that specific retailer. This performance can be further broken down by sales volume, price comparison, or market share. Once you discover who the biggest competitors are, Storylines will also let you drill down into their business to find out what items they’re selling and how those products are performing.

Every day, these cereal brands were dominated by the 3 biggest companies

Next, we might use Bedrock’s Drill Down Capabilities to examine a brand’s source of volume, so that we can compare which items are driving the growth of our brand. Storylines’ Visualization tools enable you to break out these volume reports by items, brands, manufacturers, segments, subcategories, categories and more.

Then one day, a new cereal brand started running promotions

Maybe you introduced your cereal product to the market with a series of promotions. And maybe that display was so effective that it immediately resulted in a boost to sales. Our Promotion Storylines lets you show exactly how effective a certain promotion was and what impact it had on a specific market or retailer. You can effortlessly track packaging changes, product reformulations and trade promotions within our events module for you and your competitors.

Because of that, your cereal brand’s velocity took off in the US

Next, you can use our Velocity Storyline to show how quickly your brand grew within a market or for a particular retailer. This lets you show trends over time that indicate a sustainable sales, velocity and distribution growth for your product.

Because of that, the cereal brand was able to increase its price and grow sales

After establishing its market presence, you might have found that your product was able to increase its price. Our Velocity and Pricing Storylines let you dig into your product’s price by market or retailer, or you could also compare pricing of multiple products within a single market. You can also compare the current pricing to pricing from a year ago to see trends over time. Lastly, Bedrock’s advanced capabilities allow for visual price clustering across all SKUs in a category in seconds.

Until finally, our product became the #2 cereal brand in your market

In this case, all the promotions, pricing strategies and other factors contributed to help make your product the second leading cereal brand in that retailer’s particular market, as we found through our Ranking Storylines.

Ready to build your own Storyline?

This fictionalized account is just one example of the type of story Bedrock Core’s Storylines feature can help you create. With the platform’s flexibility, granularity and ease-of-use, there’s no limit to how your story might unfold. The platform walks you through basic Storylines to help you come up with the most convincing stories to tell retailers. And if you need a little extra help, just use our Bedrock Assist™ professional services team to talk to one of our expert CPG category managers.  We employ a team of ex-retail buyers, brokers, sales & marketing managers in addition to seasoned category analysts.  We utilize many of the same storytelling methods that film studios employ to develop custom selling stories for retail sales calls.

With Bedrock Storylines, any CPG sales manager or analyst at your organization can steal a page from the Pixar playbook to help tell retailers the storylines they want to hear.

To learn more about how Pixar creates stories that connect with audiences, click on the video below.