While recent market trends have led many consumers online, in-person retail remains the bedrock of the global economy. Unsurprisingly, then, location data is widely recognized as a valuable tool for unlocking growth. With it, businesses can gain insights into the offline habits of their customers and figure out where competitors and partners are located to optimize decisions like site selection.
Among the businesses that most often use location data are consumer packaged goods brands. Because shelf space is a finite commodity, location data is a key way for these companies to maintain a competitive advantage by best allocating resources. But making good use of location data isn’t without its challenges; for example, it’s often difficult to pinpoint what location data can do for your business or how to verify data quality, particularly in international markets.
Keeping that in mind, let’s think about how location data empowers CPGs to better understand their audience, choose the best retail partners, advertise smartly and scale globally.
Use Location Data to Better Understand your Audience
From the point-of-sale to stock information, the retail industry is brimming with data. Yet these data points are only part of the story. Awareness of consumer behavior in the offline retail world can help brands drive sales, find ideal customers, and innovate.
For example, foot traffic data allows CPGs and retailers to understand the customer’s path to purchase. It shows where consumers dwell and which competitors they shop at, as well as complementary sites they visit before and after your business. This can help brands and retailers understand why a sudden drop in sales is occurring or why products seem to be selling better at one location in a county than another.
Identify Ideal Retail Partners to Maximize Value
Location data also allows CPGs to make the right choices about retail partnerships and distribution plans. Metrics that provide a clear picture of paths to purchase or trade areas, for example, can be repurposed to think creatively about which environments will do the most good for a particular product. Further, this same data can assure potential partners of why your products are a perfect fit for their locations.
In addition to helping lock in retail partners, location data increases CPGs’ competitive intelligence. By locating and analyzing competitors, CPGs can improve their regional, national and even international advantage for desired market segments. For example, a detergent brand might conclude that there are simply too many household goods retailers in a zip code to be successful in that location. Similarly, POI data can help that brand discover areas where its products will fulfill an unmet market need. Retailers can use the same data to select sites and pick products likely to win in a given location.
Leverage Smart Advertising to Stay Competitive
With a geographic understanding of their audience, partners, and competitors, CPGs can get smarter about advertising their products. This starts with the right marketing strategy, which might include mobile or geotargeting to reach consumers directly. Or, a brand might act on data-driven insights to incorporate geofencing or geo-conquesting so as to steer customers toward certain stores — a strategy CPGs and retailers alike can deploy.
CPGs can also rely on location data to measure the impact of their online and offline marketing activities. Regardless of whether they’re working with a marketer or handling things in-house, these analytics map the impact of every campaign, from ad placement to sales. This equips brands with the know-how to strengthen campaign targeting, which promotes market penetration while reducing advertising spend in the long term. Similarly, retailers can use location data-driven measurement to justify brand ad spend and build growing media networks.
Scale Globally With a Holistic Data Strategy
The many benefits that location data offers to CPGs are contingent on securing access to highly accurate, actionable information. This is easier said than done, especially in international and developing markets. As much as 70% to 90% of international POI data contains errors, which leads to wasted personnel hours, misleading insights and suboptimal growth.
When investing in data, CPGs need to make sure that it’s accurate, of course — but also that every national and international set is comprehensive, up to date and consistent. Vet data providers by asking them what steps they take to shore up the quality of their information.
Finally, it’s important that location data contracts are supported by complementary technologies that empower the CPG to maximize the value of its investments across business intelligence and marketing applications. This might include CDPs capable of networking globally, as well as protocols and workflows that help teams to locate, interpret and act on relevant location data. An end-to-end approach such as this eliminates information silos and empowers both CPGs and retailers to do what they do best: think inventively, act quickly and promote growth at scale.
Geoff Michener is the CEO and Co-founder of the geospatial data company dataPlor, where he steers the company’s strategy as it aims to provide the world’s most comprehensive and accurate POI data. He previously co-founded the small business data company Prospectwise, which was sold in 2016, and was a nuclear counterterrorism contractor. Michener hails from Colorado and is a proud Pine Ridge Reservation tribal member.