Commentary

The Measurement Mosaic

In shopper marketing, we live or die on "sell-in" and sell-through."

(A) Sell-in refers to the act of selling a shopper program into a retailer (i.e., how successful you are in getting a retailer to buy into your program); and

(B) Sell-through is the idea of velocity (i.e., how quickly the product is moving across the program).

For a Hispanic shopper-marketing practitioner, this presents intriguing conundrums, because when it comes to Hispanic marketing, metrics tend to be far less precise. Therefore, KPIs (key performance indicators) at times are trickier. What I often find in examining Hispanic retail metrics is that the picture is less clear, period. Mind you, this doesn't mean you don't have a picture, but merely that it is less sharp than in the general market. So, instead viewing of a high-resolution photo, you see a mosaic.

There are two fundamental drivers to the “resolution” of Hispanic shopper metrics:

(1) A significant amount of the sales data is directional. Traditional syndicated sales data for Hispanic stores are categorized as “Hispanic,” because 30 to 50% of the trading area is Hispanic. Therefore, a significant amount of the point-of-sale sale data being considered is non-Hispanic.

So, when developing benchmarks and performance goals, it is vital to take this into consideration and try to normalize some of these numbers. You do so by looking more closely at stores with higher densities of Hispanic shoppers (80% or higher), as well as very low-density Hispanic stores (10% or lower). Along with syndicated data, I have also seen fascinating big data developments on Hispanic shoppers. For example, there are now suppliers like Luminar (owned by Entravision Communications) that can take a deep dive into Hispanic shopping baskets to better ascertain purchasing dynamics. By understanding exactly what is filling 15 million Hispanic shopping baskets, you gain a better grasp of what the shopper really wants. As they say in the business, "Tell me what you buy and I will tell you who you are."

(2) The independent channel is in many cases under-represented. A significant percentage of volume
 from Hispanic grocery sales is derived from the independent channel, which for the most part is not covered by traditional panel sales data. The good news is that this has been changing of late. Independent grocers realize they are behind larger grocers when it comes to sales data. That stands in the way of manufacturers investing their fair share against the channel. But these smaller chains know the void also represents a revenue opportunity, and have responded with initiatives that deserve our attention. These include:

Jetros Cash and Carry. Catering to more than 100,000 mostly Hispanic bodegas in the Northeast, Jetros is now providing sales data on its customers. Jetros works on a membership model (think Costco on steroids), so specific customer sales data for this highly fragmented and complex channel can be a powerful tool for getting your arms around inner-city multicultural sales.

Krasdale Foods.Krasdale claims to have the largest Hispanic grocery share in four New York City boroughs across their C-Town, Bravo, and AIM banners in what is probably the most diverse Hispanic market in the U.S. Serving 200 supermarkets and 1,600 bodegas, its corporate spinoff, Alpha I Marketing, fills a significant data void.

Unified Grocers.As of December 2013, Unified announced a new partnership with Nielsen in which 700 stores have agreed to allow Unified to collect their data for Nielsen analytics. With more than 400 Hispanic stores in its portfolio, generating more than $5 billion in Hispanic sales annually, this will go a long way toward plugging data voids on the West Coast.

The best way to both develop an accurate picture of your Hispanic business and establish better KPI benchmarks is by combining what I like to call "top down" (syndicated and big data metrics) for the broad strokes with "bottom up" (independent store sales data) to fill in the gaps. To my mind, that is a picture of Hispanic shopper success fit for framing.

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