Incorporating big data into the beverage business

Data has become an integral part of the food industry, playing an important role in everything from tracking products through the supply chain to collecting information about consumer preferences. Retailers, restaurants and consumer packaged goods brands have narrowed down their data tracking as much as possible to gain the most detailed insights they can achieve. This narrowing of data collection includes drilling down to individual product categories -- such as beverages.

Whether selling beverages in a refrigerator case at a retail store, planning beverages to be offered on a menu at a foodservice establishment or developing and manufacturing packaged beverage options, data and analytics are an important part of company operations. And companies are taking a number of different approaches to collecting data about consumers’ beverage preferences, according to Subrata Chakrabarti, vice president of platform and industry marketing at Anaplan.

For example, many beverage companies connect geographical data and purchasing trends to individual stores, while others collect data on influencers and use that data to engage with them in the form of multichannel campaigns and promotions, Chakrabarti said. In addition, loyalty card companies, which collect a significant amount of shopper data anyway, are making their data available to other types of beverage businesses to help empower their decision making and share consumer insights, he said. Data has also become a powerful tool for optimizing assortments, streamlining supply chains, analyzing trends that appear on social media and planning and executing brand campaigns.

“Food and beverage companies are embracing big data and embedded analytics to optimize decision making. This requires a thoughtful approach to data analysis and information management, supported by a robust, flexible, and scalable planning and decision-making platform that connects all components of the business,” he said.

According to Chakrabarti, data and analytical insights in the beverage business start at the retail level and trickle down. Companies track purchasing decisions at the item level via physical, online and mobile channels, and that data can be applied to making decisions about merchandising, assortment and supply chain.

But at the end of the day, just collecting data isn’t enough. Companies have to take a step further and turn that data into a decision-making tool to help optimize their beverage business, Chakrabarti said.

“The ability to connect data and analytics across the business can help food and beverage companies track shifting priorities among segments of consumers. A company that can connect such parameters and preferences into their planning and decision making process stands to profit tremendously,” he said.

But that is often easier said than done. There are many challenges associated with tracking and using data that is dynamic and diverse when it comes to making business decisions, and those challenges can be made even more difficult when companies don’t use updated technology tools to manage their data, Chakrabarti said.

At restaurant chain Red Robin, Anaplan‘s software allows its more than 400 locations to collect a variety of sales and operating data and apply that data to the beverage item level, according to Chakrabarti. The company applies data that comes from about 10 different sources, including menus, points of sale, inventory management and daily sales, to analyze the performance of menu items and make any necessary adjustments at the store-level on a weekly basis.

When retailers, restaurants and CPG brands adopt platforms and strategies that allow them to optimize consumer data, it can allow them to personalize their beverage services and meet consumer demand for experiences that cater to their individual needs, according to Chakrabarti.

“This is where data and analytics intersects with individual consumer desires and requirements. If personalization is the new normal, thn retail, CPG and beverage companies can no longer consider potential buyers as groups,” he said.

In order to deliver a true personalized beverage experience, retailers and restaurants have to make connections between consumers and products in real time, drawing from data collected through different channels from points of sale to social media, taking many different variables into account and constantly evaluating their performance while staying ready to adapt and make changes, Chakrabarti said. That’s where a platform like Anaplan can come in.

“Ability to process all data -- including social media, videos, images, and audio data -- will be critical for decision-making. Investment in a modern cloud technology architecture, with API capabilities for third-party and mobile app connections, will prove greatly beneficial,” he said.

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