When we first started writing about Tesco’s efforts to establish itself in America as Fresh & Easy, we came to realize how import Kantar is in the UK. Its market share reports have the power to move the stock market, and countless business strategies are adjusted based on Kantar data.
Less well known is how closely Kantar works with individual suppliers to help them develop strategies that will lead to success. Shopping, in the UK or the US or anywhere around the world, is just not what it once was. There are new channels and new alternatives that have transformed the consumer shopping experience.
Yet, all too often, decisions are made based on gut instinct or what someone’s mentor told them 30 years ago.
Kantar Worldpanel UK is really about two things:
First, putting the consumers at the heart of decision-making;
Second, making decisions based on good data.
Making decisions based on one’s training and instinct is not necessarily a bad idea, but if a market is in flux as retailing is in the UK and the USA, then decisions made based on what worked long ago will often be bad decisions.
We were very fortunate that Kantar Worldpanel UK and some its most important clients were prepared to share case studies related to important produce items.
We asked Pundit Contributing Editor Keith Loria to find out more:
Consumer Insight Director
Kantar Worldpanel UK
Consumer Insight Director
Kantar Worldpanel UK
Q: We’re excited that the two of you will be coming across the pond to present a talk during the Global Trade Symposium as part of this year’s New York Produce Show and Conference. Tell us a bit about your work at Kantar Worldpanel.
Jalaly: We work with the majority of the UK food manufacturers, so everything you would find in a grocery. What we do is help them understand the marketplace and help draw growth from using data.
Cowan: We take our data and help build manufacturers’ stories and they can take that to the supermarkets and retail buyers and use that to gain better listening in the retail outlet. It’s sort of like the Nielsens in America. We do the same thing.
Q: Explain how that’s tied into the UK grocery markets?
Jalaly: We can track how people shop and their shopping behaviors and do reports on big-top line things. Costco’s market share for example, and how that’s coming on. We’ll be making comments on take-home grocery sales and look at the category as a whole, showing the results of the key questions. How loyal are people to a store and category? When they need a quick bargain, will they go elsewhere? How about when they’re in a rush?
Q: How are those answers used to help?
Jalaly: Our clients will use that insight to understand what they need to do differently in the store, whether it’s promotions, advertising or something else.
Cowan: We work on the produce side of things and we have all sorts of different challenges, as they surely do in the states. One of the things is to prevent case decline. For example, in the UK we buy less potatoes than we did five years ago. It’s a real important category and we look to fix that.
Q: I’m sure this will all be part of your talk at the Global Trade Symposium. Can you give us a little preview of what your talk will entail?
Jalaly: The theme of it is “The Same But Different.” We know people have bought groceries in the ’50s, ’60, ’70s and today, but the way they go about it has evolved. This has led to some behavior changes and impacted who the shopper is now compared to who they were in the past. We’re going to talk a little about top lines and similarity and fundamental differences between the way people shop in the UK and the US.
Cowan: In the UK we shop far more frequently because there is a much greater concentration of supermarkets both in residential and non-residential areas. We’ll have graphics to support that at the show. We’ll show what’s happening in the produce market, the parts that have been performing well and growing, and those, such as apples and pears and others, that are really struggling. These are big categories and together they represent about 10 percent of value of the produce market. These have seen long-term structural decline. We plan to address these category declines.
Q: Can you take me through one of the case studies you will be talking about during your talk?
Jalaly: The Pink Lady apples continue to decline year on year. They have such a vested interest. We examine how the brand can be used to leverage changes. One thing we know from shopping habits is that people think about them for lunch, but we need to target snacking and that’s where you will see growth.
Cowan: It’s about targeting occasions and the best way is to target the most visited parts of the kitchen—the fridge.
Jalaly: Another is Florette—one of the big brands in produce that also has the ability to do above the line. This will be lead by Tony Walsh (category controller for Florette) who regularly presents at the various IGD (Institute of Grocery Distributors) conferences here in the UK.
Q: What do you think people will learn? What do you hope people walk away with from your talk?
Jalaly: Hopefully, something interesting. An overview of what’s going on in the UK and that some of the challenges they are facing in the U.S., we are also facing in the UK. We’ll be offering some solutions on how to deal with that. Trying to find the balance between the people who may be more sophisticated compared to a grower or farmer who never looked at data before. One part is about opening the eyes of those who have never used data to how it can be used in a strategic way no matter how small you are and at the same time, educating people on some common problems with big catagories.
Cowan: One of the most important things about the presentation is that it’s going to show people—small produce suppliers, big produce suppliers—that data is something you can use in the produce department to gain that competitive edge. We’ll show that data and produce can go hand-in-hand to help sales grow.
Q: What are you looking forward to about the New York Produce Show and Conference?
Jalaly: When we were at the London Produce Show and Conference, we came across a lot of people from all over the world — Ecuador, Jamaica, all sorts of different countries, all looking to export to the UK. The way we could help them is by showing what the market looked like in a volatile and healthy state, and what the grocers think of those categories. There’s potentially an element of that in New York as well.
Cowan: Plus we have some Knicks tickets, and we’re hoping it snows!
Studying data, as another Brit said in a different context, is “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” For example, is it the case that consumers “shop more frequently in the UK because there is much greater concentration of supermarkets” or has that much greater concentration of supermarkets developed because British homes have smaller refrigerators and food storage areas and gas is much more expensive so people shop more frequently?
The Daily Mail just ran a piece, titled: The big squeeze: Average British home has shrunk by two square metres in just a DECADE forcing families to split bedrooms and even store their shopping in their car.
The average new home built in the UK in 2009 was 818 SF; in the USA, it is 2,164 SF. But that is chicken-and-the-egg as well. Do the larger homes in the US allow us to have lots of storage and thus go for Wal-Mart and Costco runs and stock up less frequently, or is it the expectation that one will be able to have large storage and entertainment areas what leads people to buy larger homes?
And, of course, no country is uniform. Consumers in Manhattan are more similar to British consumers than to rural Americans.
In any case, we are most appreciative that Amir and Chris are coming to New York and that Kantar Worldpanel UK and its clients have agreed to share so much with the industry.
The presentation will be part of The Global Trade Symposium, which takes place on Tuesday, December 2, just prior to the gala Opening Cocktail Reception, the day before the expo.
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Many thanks to Kantar Worldpanel UK and to Amir and Chris. The session promises to be intriguing.