November 5, 2020

How Sales Data Compares to Grocery List Data

What are the benefits of each, and how should you use them?

Is there such a thing as too much data? For many CPG marketers, it can be hard to choose from the plethora of options available, and even harder to figure out how to use the data once it is in their hands. Ultimately, the goal is always to develop a strategy that feeds itself; any data collected should inform future marketing spend, improve targeting, and make advertising efforts more effective.

One of the most effective sources of measurement for CPG brands is sales data. Sales numbers tell marketers what items within a product line are most popular, what regions and stores perform well, and when items are most likely to fly off shelves. While it is still difficult to tie marketing spend to actual sales, sales numbers are still the definitive measure of overall product performance.

Despite the definitive nature of sales data, marketers can never rely solely on these numbers due to several factors. Most brands do not have the ability to collect sales data in real-time from their retail partners, leading to a delay in evaluating the effectiveness of the marketing tactics they used to promote specific products. Additionally, brands can only collect their own sales numbers, which creates a gap when evaluating performance compared to competitive brands and categories as a whole. Finally, it can be difficult to evaluate sales performance by retailer and region without third parties that charge a premium for the privilege.

While grocery lists vary from point-of-sale data in that they don’t technically show where and when products are sold, they have been proven to closely reflect sales (link). Most people don’t add items to their grocery lists with the intent to not buy them, so it stands to reason that most items shoppers add to their grocery list will be bought in store.

Thus, grocery lists can also be an effective tool for CPGs seeking to fill gaps in measurement. Because they provide real-time data on grocery performance, marketers can use them to make quick evaluations of recent developments and predict new trends. Grocery list data also provides the opportunity to expand data horizons beyond one’s own brand into categories and competitors. Using grocery list data is also relatively simple; groups like AdAdapted do all the work to turn around reports on things like item performance, category trends, and brand rankings.

Sales data and grocery list data both have clear upsides… So when should you use them?

Sales Data:

  • Use when you need firm numbers to prove how product lines are performing
  • Use when you need to know which retailer is the strongest partner for your brand
  • Use when you want to compare how your brand sold year-over-year

Grocery List Data:

  • Use when you want to know how your brand is performing in comparison to competitors and/or your category as a whole
  • Use when you need to know sooner rather than later if a current event is affecting the market for your product
  • Use when you don’t have the resources to pay a big name firm for a sales study

For more information on how grocery list data can help your brand, contact

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