“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” — Jim Barksdale.
Metrics like market share, sales and distribution, estimated by the retail tracking service (aka retail index and retail measurement service), are fundamental to formulating marketing strategies and sales plans. These are the vital facts that yields insights on market structure, channel performance, brand health, competition and sales performance. For this reason, retail tracking is the source of the data that practitioners feed on most often. And though it is not rocket science, it is important that you clearly comprehend what your retail tracking service captures, know the strengths and limitations, and understand what the metrics really mean. This is important because your strategies and plans must be based on information that is correctly interpreted. And the purpose of this chapter is to impart an understanding of these aspects of the service.
The chapter covers in some detail the six key processes — universe definition, retail census, sample design and recruitment, data collection, data processing, analysis and interpretation — that make-up a retail tracking service. It explains the metrics supported by the service, relates the benefits and applications of the service, and illustrates how the data is interpreted.
Most of the cases in this book feature retail tracking data. The Little People case at the conclusion of Part VI, which is based entirely on retail audit data, facilitates a deeper understanding of the application of distribution and sales data.