Incrementality Goes Beyond Assortment, Pricing, and Merchandising

The overwhelming majority of our work at Middlegame focuses on Assortment, Pricing, and Merchandising to provide what we call Shopper Response Analytics. The significance of these three to overall brand performance is enough to keep us busy and is often at the heart of enormous opportunities we see for our clients in emerging markets. However, this obviously isn’t the only place where marketers focus their efforts. Continue reading

Thinking like a Portfolio Manager

In the blog “Evaluating Price Response as Opposed to Price Elasticity”, I reinforced the powerful impact of transforming the marketing mindset from the “brand management” approach (which has dominated the FMCG market) to a “portfolio management” approach. Continue reading

Using Shopper Response Analytics to Breathe Life into Shopper Marketing

Over the summer, a guest viewpoint in Progressive Grocer proclaimed that shopper marketing was dead. Basically, the argument was that retailers must embrace the success in strategic targeting of promotions by Kroger and those facilitated by the analytics provided by 84.15. This is the “customer of one” approach.  Middlegame would never debate the importance of growing loyalty and increasing the portion of sales attributable to repeat purchases. However, we think that the main problem with shopper marketing is the lack of focus on transferred demand and incrementality. Continue reading

Has the CPG Business Model Truly Failed or Are We Ignoring What Made the Industry Great?

Last year Forbes reported on a survey of more than 200 global FMCG C-suite executives from both the retailer and manufacturer sides of the business. The article summarized the findings with a fairly dire outlook: stating that, “antiquated marketing and brand-development models are hobbling retail and consumer products companies, chipping away at sales, earnings and market share”. The author went on to explain that efforts to adapt FMCG to how technology has transformed the shopper have overwhelmingly flopped. I debated these comments with the partners at Middlegame extensively. We agree that the era of E-commerce and the social nature of the internet have made things more difficult for FMCG, but they probably represented more opportunity than threat. We saw the real issue as something more fundamental. Continue reading

Reliance on Retail Tracking Data to Deliver Category-Wide Analytics

In a recent client meeting, a description of the CIA® methodology led to an in-depth conversation about the use of retail tracking data acquired via scanners in developed markets or audits in emerging markets. It was a great discussion and reminded me of several of the foundational ideas that led to the formation of Middlegame. This is an excellent topic for the blog to share or refresh the conversation on whether category-wide analytics require household panel data. Continue reading

Connecting with Winners in Consumer Packaged Goods

A recent report by McKinsey and Nielsen highlights how FMCG companies could drive winning performances. It is an excellent analysis of top management practices within North American companies and is worth at least skimming through. Overall, the document compares what they have explained as “winning organizations” in FMCG versus the rest of the companies. Several criteria defined the winners. The most notable were sales growth and the response rate to various marketing efforts aligned with our typical assortment, pricing and merchandising initiatives. Continue reading

Evaluating Price Response as Opposed to Price Elasticity

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Last year, Amy Gallo published “A Refresher on Price Elasticity” in the Harvard Business Review). It was a great primer for how most analytics firms address price questions from marketers, and I am a little frustrated with myself for taking so long to comment on it. Continue reading

Innovate or Renovate?

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All of the key principle here at Middlegame got our start in sales and marketing at The Coca-Cola Company, aka what insiders simply call “The Company.” We preach many of the do’s and don’ts we’ve learned over the years with The Company to those who will listen.  And despite our analytics platform being called CIA®, none of us know the directions to Langley, VA. Continue reading

Understanding the Value of the Brand Versus the Value of the Brand’s Price Position

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Recently, Middlegame leveraged our novel tool, the Competitive Interaction Analysis (CIA)®, for a very unique purpose. A Middlegame client wanted to a more customer-based evaluation of brand equity. She had worked with other researchers applying conjoint analysis, but was worried about the lack of accounting for the full marketing mix as well as very different channel dynamics that the brand was experiencing.

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Refreshing the Concept of Share of Voice in Media Effectiveness

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At Middlegame, we usually work with direct shopper response levers like assortment, pricing, and merchandising. It is probably at our insistence that buyers shop by SKU which makes it our go-to level of analysis. However, we sometimes get asked to provide a detailed assessment of incrementality versus transferred demand for the media investment. Continue reading