What the Audit Parallelogram Means to Retail Analytics

We have referred to the audit parallelogram a few times in this blog as Middlegame has devoted a lot of focus on assortment, pricing and merchandising for emerging markets. I thought it would eventually be a good idea to explain the audit parallelogram concept in a little more detail, but I got beat to the punch: Last month, a client directly asked for an explanation. Below is a summary of that write-up: Continue reading

Much Ado About Coverage Analysis: The Wrong Metrics Prevail

Coverage means different things to different people. Generally, clients refer to it as the comparison between shipments volume from internal auditing systems and the volume reported by a retail tracking service like Nielsen provides. Subsequently, “coverage analysis”is an appraisal of the quality of the overall service including the sampling approach, collection methodology and data processing. In theory, the shipments data and the retail measurement data should be nearly identical. Sometimes a lagged effect helps to converge the two data streams. Continue reading

The CIA Platform Expands Scenario Planning

While developing several hypotheses for a series of scenario-planning exercises, I noted that the Middlegame “wide-angle view”across the entire category offers an enormous opportunity to expand beyond the simulation capability of traditional marketing response models. I was surprised that I hadn’t shared this before with this client. We immediately started talking about whole new ways to leverage the CIA® platform and quickly address issues that the client thought could only be done by building, fielding and analysing a survey. Continue reading

Rethinking the Weekly Scanner Data

Over 20 years ago, I led a minor revolt at IRI that eventually had CEO Gian Fulgoni make an executive decision. John LaRocca and Jim Sullivan had given me permission to write a position paper on why IRI should forego providing weekly data and move to delivering daily data. Efficient Marketing Services (EMS) was about four years old and led by a couple of ex-IRI executives and supported by one of the Middlegame heroes, Lee Cooper, that was mentioned in a previous blog. EMS was starting to be recognized as a strong competitor given its backing by Nielsen and was starting to deliver store-level daily information at the SKU level. We were hearing a lot about from our clients at P&G. Continue reading

More Is Less

A recent Wall Street Journal article put one of the most repeated Middlegame findings front and center. Most portfolios are too big and managing all these SKUs is draining clients of resources to effectively compete and win through pricing and merchandising. Although the article focuses on the full-scale introduction of Aldi to the retail market here in the United States, the learning from their strategy thus far is identical to what we see when looking at many of the portfolios of our clients.
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Blabbering About Marketing Analytics

In late September 2017, I participated on a panel at the Marketing Metrics & Analytics Summit in Chicago. A few weeks ago, I realized that the team at Insights Exchange Network had sent me a transcript of the session shortly after the conference. Hopefully, I was somewhat articulate for the audience without being too controversial. I decided to put these remarks here on the blog. Continue reading

Levels of Demand: A Deeper Dive


Last year, I reacted to a Retail Wire discussion on category management by going into three ways to increase sales. Recently, my colleague Anne mentioned that I kind of left the conversation hanging and that further discussion about the ways that marketing tools work depending on the level of demand being pursued was in order. I agreed and wrote this post… thank you, Anne. Continue reading

Promotional Price Cuts Are Just Another Product Attribute

For quite some time, Middlegame has argued that promotional price cuts are only an additional attribute for the product during those six or seven seconds that the average shopper surveys the category and makes a choice. It was probably far from controversial when we described these and other merchandising conditions as “temporary” attributes in alignment with predominant TPR (temporary price reduction) terminology. However, price reductions and merchandising conditions continue to use advanced analytics that primarily ignore that these temporary product attributes should probably be evaluated side-by-side with the permanent product attributes. Continue reading

Why is it called ATG?

Sometimes we use the blog for shameless promotion, but often I like to talk about people who have been important to Middlegame. We call these our “heroes” entries. Earlier this year, we had a soft launch of our cloud-based simulator studio software . It leverages an integrated stack of primarily SQL and Python to process the data as well as some incredible HTML to provide the user interface. Continue reading

Another Great Renovation Story, but this Time it’s Back to the Three-Ways-to-Grow-Sales

A great discussion was started on Retail Wire in early August about “reinventing” category management. Graeme McVie offers an excellent and very Middlegame-oriented introduction of how category management should be used: Continue reading