Useful consumer insights, anybody?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine
Are vendor’s "insights" too biased to serve much use for retailers?
Says one major retailer: "There are two sides to every story, but I feel like we aren’t getting much in the way of useful consumer information from vendors. There’s no added value. Vendors of course are trying to sell cases, and so are we. But you often get such slanted presentations that it’s not helpful. I’m not saying they’re lying necessarily, but if we want to get a feel for category performance trends, we’ll get presentations from three or four vendors."
"We figure if we listen to three or four versions of ‘the truth,’ the real truth is more likely to come out. Vendors should be a good steward of the retailer’s time and effort, and make solid recommendations backed up with real numbers. Sometimes it takes a lot to follow their stories, and you feel like, ‘Come on, now. We’re just talking about one category, and one line. It shouldn’t be all that complicated.’"
The lack of useful consumer insights is one of the most consistent criticisms retailers have about their vendor partners. Piles of data on consumer demographics and buying habits rarely seem to add up to a credible plan for action, they say.
"Vendors seem to think it’s necessary to recite a pile of BS to us, and then when our eyes glaze over, they slip out the order blank," said another frustrated buyer. "They don’t research our stores or our strategies to come up with meaningful tactics.
Well, I’ve been hearing this for many years.
For their part, vendors tell me that retailers expect them to be psychic, and remove all risk by giving them winning plays that are guaranteed to score. Both sides agree that "figures can lie, and liars can figure."
The most common complaint? Bar charts that are out of alignment, skewing results in the manufacturer’s favor. So allow me to recommend “How to Lie with Statistics,” by Darrell Huff.
A couple of buyers told me the best-selling book has helped them detect what I call "nonsense boiled in vegetable oil" in some vendors’ presentations. When I checked, you could get it for under $3 on Amazon.
Are retailers expecting too much around vendor insights? Is there a way both sides can work toward coming up with objective insights?