Godzilla of Availability. Really?
If that’s your question then clearly you are not up to date on monster movies. Godzilla is Earth’s saviour now. Just like consumer brands. For their power play during the pandemic despite the headwinds of political uncertainties across the world. Data played a significant role in their resilience. “How?” you ask. We say, “Read on.”
Earlier this week, the government of India asked automotive manufacturers to share details of the parts that are imported for each product. That information gives auto firms their competitive edge, and of course, they are leery of sharing the information. But the trend of governments asking manufacturers and companies to share sensitive data is on the rise. E-commerce companies are already sharing information about their sellers.
As troublesome as these developments are, they point to one thing. Data is the new economy. The more you have it, the richer you are. So where do consumer brands stand in this new economy?
The pandemic has already accelerated the move towards digital transformation. Brands like Jyothy Labs that were ahead of the curve by investing in technology to transform their supply chains have fared better than their competitors during the lockdown. But it’s undeniable that brands are not entirely clear on how data and analytics investments can give them a competitive edge.
In May, we spoke with the business leaders of UNIBIC and O’cean Beverages to understand how they ensured product availability despite the lockdown and the role of data insights. Here’s what they did.
With Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador, O’cean Beverages’ energy Drink, One8 hardly escapes attention. What’s less known is that the brand belongs to the Narang Group whose portfolio includes water, chocolates, tea, coffee etc. Still, the pandemic brought many things to a grinding halt for the Group which relies heavily on modern trade for its distribution.
The brand’s solution was to turn to data and insights. Through primary and secondary research, the company focused on demand and supply insights. Within the first 15 days of the lockdown, they identified two trends – consumers’ shift to immunity-boosting products after buying essentials and their preference for home deliveries.
Predictably, the brand first saw demand for its products in the tea, coffee and unflavoured water categories. The market later shifted to their vitamin-boosted, flavoured water. In the third phase, consumers’ need to indulge themselves followed, and the brand’s chocolates and energy drinks came into focus.
Based on the insights, the brand made strategic decisions. They stopped the media spending and investments in trade marketing. But fulfilment was still a challenge. They identified distributors with massive sales volumes and helped them to get permits to deliver. For distributors that couldn’t get permits, they started direct store delivery. To do that they tied up with bulk delivery companies like Delhivery and B2B single-point deliveries through Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo.
For the biscuits and confectionery brand, it was a combination of team and technology. The company has a strong team of 10 leaders who leveraged data to identify market opportunities even in a lockdown. In addition to identifying retailers with the greatest need for stocks, they also were able to understand what they needed and how they wanted it. Their criteria were to identify outlets where the big biscuit brands did not have a presence. In each locality, they identified 5-10 stores and ensured 100% availability and delivery to those outlets. The approach paid off in impressive sales volume growth even in the pandemic.
The critical difference in UNIBIC’s approach was in how it rallied its teams to rely on technology and data insights in a crisis. The organisation had invested not only in retail intelligence platforms but also in evangelising the technology to its teams. They branded their retail intelligence platform as Bizom Sach (Truth). The platform lies at the heart of the organisation’s dependence on gaining 100% insights into the depth and width of its coverage, availability and distribution. While making these behavioural changes took time, their investments paid off when they needed its teams to make data-driven decisions the most.
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