How social media data is transforming the CPG industryDave Sheluga
- All Blogs, Marketing Analytics, Social Media Analytics
- Last Updated on October 5, 2016
In this issue of our #highondata series, Dave Sheluga,Director of Consumer Insights at Ardent Mills,discusses how social media analytics have changedmarketers understanding of their customers, and their ability to shape the future of the CPG industry.
About two years ago, we saw an increase in demand for using social media data toenhance understanding of trends seen in secondary research data. What were thebenefits marketers saw in doing this?
The marketplace around consumer packaged goods changed abruptly in early 2011. Marketers found thattraditional marketing tools that served them well for 40 years were no longer working so well. And marketresearchers discovered the need to view the marketplace more broadly. They were too focused on current,core consumers. Social media and internet analytics allowed savvy marketers and researchers to discoverand learn quickly in a disrupted marketplace.
There seems to be a natural evolution from there to using social media data as a primarytool to get a granular understanding of consumers. What is the biggest impact socialmedia data has had on Ardent Mills understanding of consumer insights?
Weve abandoned focus groups, and all but abandoned traditional surveys. Focus groups are a slow and
expensive way to discover and explore. And surveys often require you to know the answers you are looking
for, before you run the survey. With social media data, you can quickly explore topics and discover many
patterns, trends, and insights, without predetermining what you are looking for. The biggest impact is helping
us see what was previously unseen.
How has this understanding helped in product innovation?
Internet analytics has helped us see trends two to three years into the future. We saw the onset ofenlightened eating and purity in foods as early as 2009, and made significant moves into organic wheat.We are now innovating with heirloom, ancient, and artisan wheats that we predict will be in demand 2 to 3years from now. Today, there is little awareness of heirloom and artisan wheats, even among leading edgeconsumers and product innovators. Internet analytics show us that all the trends are in place for theseheirloom and artisan wheats.
What are some of the challenges of working with insights from social media?
Heres the challenge. We want to know the future, but we dont know what it looks like. The insights frominternet analytics come very close to showing us the future, but our inherent human doubts cloud thepicture. You need to have your own very broad-based knowledge of many marketplace trends social,emotional, demographic, economic, political and technological to reduce doubt and increase faith in theinternet analytics. I know that when Ive shared insights from my internet analytics work, Ive found it hard toconvince people who dont have a broad view of the marketplace.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen marketers or market researchers
make when deriving insights from internet analytics?
The biggest mistake is looking for an easy answer, a simple yes-no answer. The successful business person
views these insights as learnings; not pat answers. New learning builds upon prior learning. Its not one-stop
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