By Joe Palermo
For any CPG manufacturer operating in three or more countries, global reporting should be a fundamental part of strategy development, execution and measurement. Whether managers use the resultant reports to ensure compliance with centrally generated marketing and sales plans or to support regional or global expansion initiatives, global reporting provides market information and analysis that will drive more profitable business decisions. Other benefits include improved benchmarking information, a better understanding of category dynamics and new opportunities, and the ability to establish new products faster and more successfully across regions and countries, facilitating an improved understanding of pricing patterns across countries.
The first step in any global reporting project is to determine what should be included or excluded from category definitions. The next step is to determine the level of harmonization and integration required to reflect those definitions. While it is essential for multinational or global companies operating in foreign countries to respect the established consumer preferences in order to succeed, this can create challenges to harmonizing brands across countries. For example, it is a common practice for manufacturers to produce a product under a different name in different countries.
One fabric softener, for example, is known as “Snuggle” in the United States and Canada, “Comfort” in the United Kingdom, “Coccolino” in Italy and “Mimosin” in Spain. To convey an accurate representation of market share, managers must calibrate the data used to evaluate global market share to reflect multiple names for the same product. Once managers have reconciled different product names, they can interpret data to shape strategic and operational decisions. In this case, one approach would be to map the various brand names to a common description, such as “Snuggle (global),” and allow the individual local brand names, as well as the global brand name, to appear when drilling down into a local country’s data.
The final step is drilling down into the data to extract additional insights. With data input from all over the world coming from multiple sources, both internal and external, with varying product descriptions, segmentation and periodicity, digesting this information can be a labor-intensive task. Moreover, depending on the source of the information, translating the data into actionable strategies and tactics may require learning different access tools.
One effective method of determining which channels require attention globally and evaluating competitors’ marketing positions is data visualization. A graphic representation of brand performance in comparison to competitors makes it easy for managers to understand and evaluate a broad scope of data from key global retailers.
Global reporting is a complex exercise, but a valuable one. To streamline the process, CPG manufacturers should outsource this function to a company that specializes in the CPG area of global harmonization, hosts multi-country information and employs a state of the art data agnostic web based platform.
To read more of the research on Global Reporting, please contact Joe Palermo, vice president, Global Integrated Solutions, IRI.