5 key questions manufacturers should ask data providers

5 key questions manufacturers should ask data providers

Analyzing data can be extremely confusing for manufacturers, but it doesn't need to be. Think of data as business intelligence. What are your needs and objectives? What questions do you want answered? This will help you determine where to start.

There are several data sources available to any manufacturer: 

Internal data includes your shipment data (data that tracks the movement of your products to distributors and retailers); your promotional data (trade spending including all the costs associated with a promotion); and inventory data (your inventory of products ready to be shipped).  

External data includes syndicated data, consumer data, retailer point of sale data (POS) and distributor/wholesaler data.  

A closer look at external data:

  • Companies that purchase retail sales data in order to resell it also provide syndicated data. Syndicated data allows you to compare your items with competitors and also monitor your sales at the category, brand and item level in a retailer, market, region and country. This data is usually very expensive and confusing to use and understand, largely because it's robust. Don't be afraid to ask an expert for help. An expert can provide strategic sustainable business building insights with a high return on investment. 
  • Consumer data includes buying habits, customer usage, loyalty and trends. 
  • Wholesaler/distributor and POS data is typically free and only includes your items. It is especially useful in analyzing promotions and managing item sell through. This data should be used to augment and support other data sources.  

Data can be viewed in several ways. Some companies offer basic, canned reports that are great for a quick reference/review of your sales. Topline reports, however, do not give you a competitive advantage. Custom reports offer a specialized in-depth look at your business and are the single best tools to help manage your business and grow your brand.

How do you make the most of all this data? Here are the five key questions to ask your data provider:

  1. What do the different measures mean?
  2. Which measures are most important and why?
  3. What reports or reporting tools are available and how do I access them? 
  4. Which reports will help me grow my business?
  5. How do I go beyond the topline reports?

Talk with a certified category management expert about your data. The right expert can produce results that will outperform billion dollar brands. He or she will help to help you understand:

  • How is your brand performing in each market/retailer?
  • How is your competition doing and are they outperforming your brand?
  • Is there a hidden opportunity to reach more customers?
  • Are your promotions attracting new customers?
  • Are your customers selecting your competitors when you're out of stock?
  • What steps do you need to take to become a preferred vendor?
  • Are you maximizing your trade spending? 
  • What is the best everyday and promoted price for your product?

What kinds of data do you rely on? Share your tips in the comments.


Daniel Lohman CMS4CPG.com logois the owner of Category Management Solutions (CMS) which provides innovative strategic solutions for natural and organic CPG companies interested in gaining a significant competitive advantage.
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