How To Improve Profitability & Outperform Your Competition: the Guide to Data-driven Decision Making
HOW TO IMPROVE PROFITABILITY &OUTPERFORM YOUR COMPETITION:THE GUIDE TO DATA-DRIVEN DECISION MAKING A.J. Riedel, Sr. Partner
The movie Moneyball depicts data-drivendecision making in action. The movie Moneyball tells the story of how Billy Beane and his Harvard-educated quant whiz kid protégé Paul DePodesta turned the Oakland Athletics into a team that consistently made the playoffs over a number of years. And they did it using data-driven decision making. The Athletics were near the very bottom of the league in terms of their financial capacity to spend on acquiring talent. Through detailed analysis of every imaginable baseball statistic, the duo uncovered the true underlying drivers of success for a baseball team. They uncovered the massive inefficiency in how baseball talent is priced and were able to exploit this inefficiency to their advantage. Billy and Paul figured out how to gauge and price the true worth of every ballplayer. The morale of the Moneyball story is that data-driven decisions result in significantly better outcomes than gut feel, intuition, or conventional wisdom.
Recent research proves that companies that rely heavily on data analysis are likely to outperform others.Researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania studied 179 large publicly-traded companies. They found that the companies that adopted “data-driven decision making saw measurable improvement in productivity and other performance measures. http://misrc.umn.edu/wise/papers/1a-1.pdf
What is data-driven decision making? If you do a Google search on the term, most of the search results relate to the use of data-driven decision making in education. In the education world, data-driven decision making is defined as “A process of making decisions about curriculum and instruction based on the analysis of classroom data and standardized test data. It is based on the assumption that scientific methods used to solve complex problems in industry can effectively evaluate educational policy, programs, and methods.” http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/misc/glossary.htm The practice of data driven decision making in education has exploded over the last five years as educators have discovered how powerful data can be when promoting school improvement. Data driven decision making has been credited with improving teacher quality, improving curriculum, promoting parental involvement, & narrowing the achievement gaps amongst various student populations.
What is data-driven decision making in business?The process of making product development and marketing decisions based on the analysis of consumer, marketplace, and competitive data.
Most housewares companies are usingdata-driven decision making of a sort –they are basing new product decisionson what their competitors are doing.
But most housewares companies are notcollecting and analyzing consumer data.
Marketers still rely too much on intuition. “A recent Corporate Executive Board study of nearly 800 marketers at Fortune 1000 companies found that the vast majority of marketers still rely too much on intuition – while the few who do use data aggressively do it badly. On average, marketers depend on data for just 11% of all customer-related decisions. In fact, when we asked marketers to think about the information they used to make a recent decision, they said that more than half of the information came from their previous experience or their intuition about customers. They put data last on their list – trailing conversations with manager and colleagues, expert advice and one-off customers interactions.” http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/marketers_flunk_the_big_data_test.html
Most decisions are made by HiPPO.Many housewares companies use HiPPO-driven decision making (the “highest paidperson’s opinion”). HiPPO stands for “the highest paid persons opinion”. The term refersto those people who have the final word on any design issue on the basis that theyrethe highest paid person in the room.Certainly, intuition grounded by years of in-market experience should always be listenedto carefully, but it pays to augment even the best intuition with data.In today’s volatile business environment, judgment built from past experience isincreasingly unreliable. With consumer behaviors in flux, once-valid assumptions canquickly become outdated.
Housewares manufacturers have an average new product failure rate of more than 50%.If you are a typical housewares company, somewhere between 25 and 50% of the newproducts your company introduced in the past five years met the company’s successcriteria. What Percent of the Products Developed by Your Company is the Last Five Years Met Your Companys Success Criteria? More than 50% Between 25 and 50% Less than 25% 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Percent of RespondentsWhat’s more, you are probably wasting 50% or more of your new product developmentbudget developing marginal products that have a low probability of marketplace success.
Here are the top six reasons you should adopt data-driven decision making. 1. By changing the way you make decisions youll outperform your competitors.2. You’ll reduce the number of suboptimal decisions being made by your managers. 3. You’ll reduce your risk of making costly marketing & product mistakes.4. You’ll save money by weeding out the marginal products that have a low probability of success before you’ve invested in tooling. 5. A larger percent of your new products will be marketplace successes.6. You’ll get a better return on your new product investment.
Data-driven decision making does not mean you need a multi-million dollar budget.Adopting data-driven decision making does not require a multi-million dollar budget for retail store tracking data, data-mining, analytics software, or huge quantitative research studies.And unlike Billy Beane and his team, you don’t necessarily have to plow through every imaginable statistic stored in your company’s databases. The Athletics used mounds of baseball statistics to figure out how to gauge and price the true worth of every ballplayer.For housewares manufacturers, the answers to your most pressing product and marketing decisions won’t be found in statistics. The answers will be found by talking with and understanding the people who buy and use your products.
To get started using consumer data to make product & marketing decisions,you need a few simple data collection tools. Market Research Online Online survey software Community (MROC) A "dedicated online community for qualitative market research purposes”, otherwise known as a Market Research Online Community or MROC. You can build and manage your own in-house panel, have a company like Communispace build and manage your panel for you, or use a third party panel such as my company’s HomeTrend Influentials Panel.
And people with analytical, creative, and outside the box thinking skills. Even more important than the data collection tools is the brain power to analyze and make sense out of the data. If you don’t have people in your organization who have strong analytical, creative, and outside the box thinking skills, you should find an outside resource who does.
THE QUESTION:WHAT FEATURES SHOULD OUR NEW PRODUCT HAVE?
Manufacturers tend to want to cram as many KPD into their new products as possible.What features should the new product have? That is one of the first questions that theproduct development and marketing people have to answer when they are starting todefine a new product concept. Most housewares manufacturers think “more is better”. They believe that the more features they put into a product, the more customers will like it. Or they want to be able to claim to their retail customers that their new product has the highest KPD (Knobs per Dollar) in the category.
But consumers don’t buy products because of KPD.They buy products they think will solve a problem better than what they are currentlyusing. They buy products that they believe will be easier to use or easier to clean.They buy products that will make their lives easier or save them time.
Start by understanding your consumer.A manufacturer of small kitchen electrics decided that they wanted to get into thecountertop microwave market. They contacted me for help in figuring out what functionsand features they should put on their new microwave oven that would really set it apartfrom all the microwave ovens on the market today. They expected that I wouldrecommend that we do a comprehensive analysis of all of the competitive microwaveovens. Instead, I recommended a consumer needs assessment.To develop products that are significant improvements over the products that are currentlyon the market, you have to thoroughly understand the people who are buying and usingthose products. You must understand what problems consumers are having with theproducts that are currently on the market so that you can come up with ideas that solvethose problems. You must understand where current products fall short so that you candevelop products that consumers will like better.
Type of research study: consumer needs assessment.•I started with questions about their microwave oven. Questions like how long they’veowned it, how much they paid for it, what brand they own.•The next set of questions addressed how satisfied they were with their microwave oven..•Next, I asked what they cook in their microwave oven, and how often they cookdifferent types of foods in their microwave oven.•I asked questions about what cooking functions and features they would want if they ifthey were buying a new microwave.
The research revealed that there are four distinct segments of microwave oven users. The first and largest group is people who use their microwaves mostly for melting and reheating. The second group is the people who use their microwave mostly to heat up leftovers. The third group is the people who use their microwave mostly to heat up frozen foods. The fourth group is people who use their microwave to prepare whole meals.
The functions and features people want depends on what they use their microwave oven for. Are these cooking functions: functions Are these features that you absolutely that you absolutely must have, functions must have, features that would be nice to that would be nice to have but are not have but are not necessary, or features necessary, or functions that you dont that you dont need or want? need or want? Control lockout Child lock Delay start Convection Racks for bi-level cooking Multi-stage cooking options Speed cookKeep Warm/Simmer Convection Instant On Controls One-touch cooking categories Popcorn button Reheat Shortcut keys Sensor Interior oven light Defrost Timer Carousel turntable 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% I don’t need or want this function I don’t need or want this feature This function would be nice to have but is not necessary This feature would be nice to have but is not necessary I absolutely must have this function I absolutely must have this feature
Decisions made based on consumer needs assessment Based on the research findings, my client decided to target the two smaller segments of microwave oven users -- the people who use their microwave oven mostly to heat up frozen food and the people who use their microwave to prepare whole meals. Their microwave ovens would address a common complaint of these two segments of microwave oven user – that they couldn’t just put a food into the microwave and walk away. Their microwave oven would take the guesswork out of microwave cooking and would have features and functions such as auto reheat and defrost, sensors, One Touch Express Cook for common frozen food categories, Multi-stage cooking options, and Racks for bi-level cooking.
THE QUESTION:SHOULD WE INVEST IN TOOLING FOR ALL OF THE ITEMS IN THE LINE?
Type of research: Product Screening TestA kitchenware manufacturer developed a line of 19 innovative new kitchen gadgets acouple of years ago. Before they invested in tooling, they wanted to find out howinterested consumers would be in each of the items.Respondents were shown an illustration and a brief description of each item in the lineand asked to read a description of the product. They were asked how interested theywould be in purchasing the product.
Purchase likelihood ranged from 42% for Concept C to 7% for Concept S. If this product was already available at your favorite store, how likely would you be to purchase it? Concept S Concept Q Concept O Concept M Concept K Concept I Concept G Concept E Concept C Concept A Competitive #1 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% Very likely Completely likelyPurchase likelihood ranged from from a low of 7% to a high of 42%. A purchase likelihood score of 7% means that 7% of the survey respondents said thatthey would be “very” or “completely” likely to purchase the product at the given price.
A strong correlation between purchaselikelihood scores and how well the product met company expectations. Failed to meet Exceeded TOP TWO BOX Met sales sales sales PURCHASE LIKELIHOOD expectations expectations expectations WATER PITCHER 60% X FRUIT & VEG 48% X SLICER PASTA SCOOP 41% X VEGETABLE PEELER 38% X TOOL HOLDER 36% X ZESTER 32% X ICE CREAM SCOOP 27% X BUTTER SPREADER 26% X AVOCADO TOOL 25% X TEA INFUSER 25% X SERVING TOOL SET 24% X CHEESE GRATER 18% X SUGAR SHAKER 18% X SALT SHAKER 14% XAll of the products with top two box purchase likelihood scores of 30% or more met orexceeded company expectations. All the products with purchase likelihood scores of 24%or below failed to meet expectations. Products with purchase likelihood scores in therange of 20% to 29% fell into the gray area: three failed to meet expectations and twoexceeded expectations.
Decisions made based on product screening test Based on the results of the concept test, the client dropped the five items with less than 15% purchase likelihood from the line, saving them an estimated $17,000 in tooling costs. But then the client fell back into decision-making by HiPPO. I had recommended that the client introduce the five products that had purchase likelihood scores of 25% or more. They chose to go ahead and introduce 9 products that scored less than 25% on purchase likelihood. Two years later, I conducted a study to compare how well each product did in the marketplace to their purchase likelihood scores.
WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OFMARKETPLACE SUCCESS FOR THIS PRODUCT?
Type of research: Product Concept TestThis case study illustrates how product concept testing can be used to determine if there isa big enough market for a new product.. I seriously wondered how much demand there isgoing to be for a specialty single-use small kitchen electric appliance that automates jam &jelly making, especially when it is priced at almost $100. So, I conducted a product concepttest on a product that was already in market. Ideally, this type of research is done early inthe development process before much money has been invested in development andtooling.
There is considerable interest in jam and jelly making. Do you make your own jam and/or Are you thinking about starting to make jelly? jam and/or jelly? Yes 30% Yes 35% No 65% No 70%The research revealed that jam and jelly making is a pretty popular activity. 35% of surveyrespondents make their own jam and jelly. The majority of them have been making jamand jelly for a number of years.The research also revealed that there is a considerable increase in interest in jam and jellymaking. 30% of survey respondents say they are thinking about starting to make theirown jam and jelly.
But interest in jam and jelly making does not translate into interest in the jam and jelly making appliance.23% of respondents said they probably or definitely would purchase the Jam & JellyMaker at the suggested retail price of $99.99. Assume for a moment that you are planning to do some canning this year. If this product were sold at one of your favorite stores for $99,99, how likely would you be to buy it for your own household or as a gift in the next 12 months? Definitely or probably would Might or might not Definitely or probably would not 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Many respondents are not interested inthe product because of the $99 price tag. “The price is very high for a product that wouldnt be used on a daily or even weekly basis.” “I cant afford something that expensive to use Only once or twice a year. If I did make jellies more often Id make the investment.”“It is so cheap to make jelly and Im betting that mostpeople who are making it themselves are doing itpartly to be thrifty. A $100 price tag seems ridiculous.” “Seems expensive since this would be a new activity for me and I dont yet know if I would like it and stick with it.”
Highest positive purchase likelihoodamong the people who already make their own jam and jelly. If this product were sold at one of your favorite stores for $99,99, how likely would you be to buy it for your own household or as a gift in the next 12 months?Among respondents who are thinking about starting to make jam and/or jelly Among respondents who make thier own jam and/or jelly Among the total sample 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Probably would Definitely would
Respondents who already make jam andjelly appreciate the time and moneysaving benefits of the appliance.“If it would save me time, Im all for it.” “Its worth it to not have to manually stir constantly. I can in large batches, so this would be extremely helpful..” “It would make my life so much easier!.”“I think it would save me money in the long run!”.” “Because every year I spend about that much or more and with a ton more work..”
Implications of Product Concept TestWhen I first saw the jam and jelly maker, I seriously wondered how much demand there is going to be for a specialty single-use small kitchen electric appliance that automates jam and jelly making, especially one that is priced at almost $100.What I found that there is strong purchase interest among people who make their own jam and jelly.What’s more, the segment of the population that makes jam and jelly is large enough that this could turn out to be a nice niche product.
Type of Research: Package TestThe manufacturer handheld household cleaning tool had come up with several differentversions of the package. The question they needed to answer was: which design is goingto catch consumers’ attention at retail and provide enough information to convince them thatthe product really works?Respondents were shown three different versions of the front panel and asked threequestions.Next, respondents were shown a list of six different product benefits and asked which wasmost important to them and why.Finally, respondents were shown two versions of a side panel and asked which design did abetter job of selling them on buying the product and why.
Package B was the best of the three front panel options. Which of these three packages would be most Which of these three packages is best at likely to grab your attention and make you want communicating what the product does? to take a closer look if you saw it in a store? None of themNone of them Package C Package C Package B Package B Package A Package A 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Which of these three packages is best at making you want to buy the product? None of them Package C Package B Package A 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
One product benefit – the very specific claim of what the product eliminates -- was far more important than the otherfive. Side panel A was the best of the two side panel options. Which product benefits are most Which of these two side important to you? panel alternatives does a better job of selling you onEliminates 99.9% of germs, viruses, buying the product? bacteria, and allergens Safe chemical-free sanitizing Neither Kills germs, viruses, and odors Side Panel B No chemicals or residue Side Panel A Faster than sprays and wipes 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
The package did not answer some of the questions that prospective purchasers had about the product.“How long does it work? How often do you need to use it?Can it be used on fabrics? How do you know its working?” “How long does it take to sanitize an area? ” “Does it clean as well as removing allergens and microbes?”“How long do I need to hold it above the surface? How much areais covered by the light? do I need to move the wand over every inchof counterspace slowly and in a particular manner?”
Decisions made based on package test Use front panel version B but use the more specific product claim. Add more information about how the product works to the back panel. Use the layout of side panel version A but add scientific proof that the product really does work.
Type of Research: Pricing TestThis manufacturer had developed an innovative new type of utensil tray. The mostprofitable price would be $19.95 but they were concerned that consumers would not bewilling to pay that much of a premium in a category where the average utensil tray costabout $10.We did an online concept test but instead of one purchase likelihood question, we asked aseries of three questions.
Of the three prices tested, the $14.95 price point is the price point that will generate the most volume.Assume for a moment that you are in the market for a utensil tray. If this product were sold atone of your favorite stores, how likely would you be to buy it for your own household or as agift in the next 12 months? $19.95 $17.95 $14.95Definitely would not 12% 16% 15%Probably would not 21% 26% 21%Might or might not 37% 55% 43%Probably would 20% 3% 21%Definitely would 9% 0% 1%•29% of the respondents said they probably or definitely would buy the product at $19.95.•At $17.95, an additional 2% said they probably or definitely would buy the product. At$19.95, these respondents were fence sitters; they might or might not buy.•At $14.95, an additional 22% said they probably or definitely would buy the product. At$19.95 and $17.95, these respondents were fence sitters.
WHY ISN’T THE PRODUCT SELLING AS WELL AS WE THOUGHT IT WOULD?
Type of Research: Diagnostic TestA manufacturer of high-end small kitchen appliances recently introduced a new convectiontoaster oven that had a number of features not found on other high-end convection toasterovens, including a new heating technology that promised better cooking performance. Theywere confident that consumers would be willing to pay $249.99 for such a well-featuredtoaster oven, even though the best selling competitive toaster ovens cost $50 to $75 less.But the product was not selling as well as they thought it would. So I conducted adiagnostic test to help them figure out why the product wasn’t selling. A diagnostic test usesthe same battery of questions that are used in a product concept test.
The product was comparable to the competitive products on desirability, believability, and uniqueness. But fell far short on purchase likelihood. How likely would you be to buy this countertop oven for your own household or as a gift in the next 12 months? Convection Convection Convection Toaster Toaster Toaster Oven A Oven B Oven C Countetop Oven C at $149.95 24% 8%Price $249.95 $179.95 $149.95Desirability 72% 71% 72% Countetop Oven B at $179.95 21% 12%Believability 74% 83% 75% Countetop Oven A at $249.95 6% 2%Uniqueness 56% 61% 59% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%
The added features weren’t worth paying more than $200 for, especially in a product category where a good quality machine could be purchased for much less money.I dont see any feature worth the premium price. You canget a good toaster oven for the $100 price range that cancook a frozen pizza... All the fancy "store in memory"sounds like a gimmick.” “I’m not sure that the extra functions of the oven would Justify spending so much more than I would for a regular toasting oven.”
Implications of Diagnostic Test The reason the product was not selling through well was because the unique features were not perceived by consumers as delivering enough benefit to justify paying such a high price.
SUMMARY Data-driven decision making is the process of making product development and marketing decisions based on the analysis of consumer, marketplace, and competitive data. Data-driven decisions result in significantly better outcomes than gut feel and intuition. Product and marketing decisions require consumer data. You don’t have to have a multi-million dollar budget to get started using data-driven decision making. Much of the consumer data collection can be done using online survey software and a Market Research Online Community.
About the HomeTrend Influentials Panel HomeTrend Influentials pick up on new home-related trends and embrace new home goods much sooner than the rest of the U.S. population. (For example, as of June 2011, 76% of HIPsters own smart phones compared to an estimated 38% of the total population.) If HIPsters embrace a new product, very likely it is going to be embraced by mainstream Americans within a couple of years. If HIPsters reject a new product, very likely the product is not going to be embraced by mainstream Americans either. HomeTrend Influentials are home owners who like their homes to look up-to-date and like to keep their fingers on the pulse of what is new for the home. They are constantly redecorating and making improvements to their homes. They enjoy talking with their family, friends, and co-workers about what’s new for the home and they are sought out by friends and family for advice on what to buy for their homes and what to do to their homes. They are very active in community, civic, and political activities. They readily try new food, household cleaning, laundry, and housewares products that they see advertised or in stores and they eagerly recommend the products that they really like to others. HomeTrend Influentials are well educated, articulate, insightful, and eager to share their opinions with manufacturers. They are savvy consumers. HomeTrend Influentials participate in a variety of different research studies ranging from e-mail surveys to in-home interviews to home-use tests to online click-through surveys to focus groups, both traditional in-person and online. http://www.4rmg.com/research-data-collection-and-analysis/hometrend-influentials-panel/
About Riedel Marketing Group In business since 1991, Riedel Marketing Group (RMG) is a trusted provider of authoritative market and consumer intelligence on the U.S. home goods and housewares industries. RMG helps housewares and home goods manufacturers make informed product and marketing decisions that will lead to new product success. RMG is the only market research company that specializes exclusively in the housewares industry. We have expertise in data collection and analysis. – We have extensive experience with product concept tests, concept screening, market and competitive assessments, home-use tests, and Internet-based research. We tell you what the data means and what to do as a result. – We answer not just the “what” questions but also the “so what” (what are the ramifications of the data) and “now what” (what do we do as a result of this study) questions. We have our own proprietary consumer panel. – Our Market Research Online Community, the HomeTrend Influentials Panel, is a good sample population because they are the bellwether for the mainstream population. We have a proven track record and satisfied clients. – We been providing outstanding service to housewares manufacturers, industrial design firms, inventors, and industry trade associations for over 22 years.
About A.J. Riedel A highly regarded marketing authority in the housewares industry, the top forecaster of housewares trends, and an advisor to many housewares companies. AJ founded Riedel Marketing Group in 1991 to help housewares manufacturers solve marketing problems and develop strategies and plans to grow their business. With over 25 years of marketing and market research experience in total, A.J. has specialized in the housewares and home goods industry for more than 20 years. Her knowledge and understanding of the housewares industry encompasses market dynamics, channels of distribution, consumer behavior, and consumer trends. After earning her MBA at UCLA, A.J. spent the early years of her marketing career in the consumer package goods industry. She helped jump start Wheaties cereal sales at General Mills, increased Grey Poupon sales at RJR Nabisco, and revitalized the air cleaner business at Norelco/N.V. Philips. Because of her extensive background marketing consumer products as a manager for General Mills, RJR Nabisco, and Reebok, she is able to bring the tools and disciplines of consumer package goods marketing to bear on the housewares industry. A.J. has spoken at numerous industry functions and meetings and is the medias "GO TO" person for trends and insights in the housewares industry. She is frequently quoted in national newspapers and magazines including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Wall Street Journal, and industry trade publications. A.J. lives in Phoenix Arizona with her husband and son.