by Peter Weiss

Challenge

Our client, an American retail food distributor, needed an interim brand manager—someone who could hold things together in an employee’s absence. The company needed someone to lead the development and marketing activities for a specific product line, as well as someone to develop strategic assessments for the category and manage the business against operating plans and budgets.

Understanding the Business

Our consultant developed an analytical model to understand the performance of core products and seasonal products, and found something interesting: sometimes, despite enduring popularity in the market, the company’s seasonal products showed poor performance.

There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the drop-off in sales; the same products performed very well during different promotions. “We weren’t getting the lift we thought we’d get—the sales just didn’t materialize,” said the director of retail products.

Point B knew we needed to look at the timing of when these products were coming to market. We discovered that the problem was timing. When seasonal products hit the market just after a core product was on sale, sales of the seasonal product were sluggish because customers had stocked up on the core product. But when the seasonal product was offered alongside the core product, even when the core product was on sale, customers would buy them both.

“Part of the role is understanding the business and being able to communicate what’s not working, and Point B did that exceptionally well,” says a director of marketing. “They helped us visualize the data and build a predictive model so that we could not only see the spikes and the dips, compared to previous years, but also better plan our product portfolio and promotional plans.”

Exceeding Expectations

By working with Point B, the company beat its fiscal year 2013 annual sales estimate for this category by 10 percent.

The company also has a new perspective on the performance of limited time offers, core products, and promotional offers. “Thanks to Point B, we now have a better understanding of the true level of incremental sales for seasonal products, as well as better tools to schedule new promotional offers,” the director says.

As a result, the company’s forecasting has improved. “Point B’s analytical approach helped us uncover important insights into the performance of our products,” the director says. “Point B helped us understand how to position our products appropriately, giving us critical metrics in a format that’s both comprehensive and easy to understand.”

By visualizing the data and using timelines as a tool to understand how promotions affect one another, the company’s leadership can now make more accurate, and more ambitious, sales forecasts that will drive more revenue.