Scanner data is a widely used information source, but relying on scanner data alone can lead to significant knowledge gaps.
In highly competitive industries like food and beverage and pet products, companies are always working to better understand consumer preferences, buying habits, and market trends to help maximize profitability.
Scanner data is a widely used information source, but relying on scanner data alone can lead to significant knowledge gaps, as Industry Studies Manager Jennifer Mapes Christ explained in a recent video interview. Additional insights are needed for a holistic view of an industry and its future direction.
Learn more about the pros and cons of scanner data—and other useful types of research to incorporate into your growth strategies—by watching the video discussion. A quick summary of Jennifer’s key points is also included below the video.
The Narrow Scope of Scanner Data
Scanner data keeps track of the barcode information that’s scanned at checkout to identify the item counts and note the value of sales associated with them, according to Jennifer.
Scope matters when it comes to data and missing a market segment can result in blind spots. Some types of scanner data are limited to certain retail channels, typically brick or mortar. But even then, it may not include all brick or mortar chains. For instance, it might be missing retail sales of food and beverage or pet products that occur at a specialty store or at a convenience store, and in some cases, a club store or a discount store.
E-commerce can be another blind spot for some of these scanner options, when customers order online to pick up from their grocery store, or make purchases through e-tailers like Amazon, Thrive Market, and Chewy. In addition, many products from startups are sold direct-to-consumer and shipped straight to home.
By sticking to scanner data, you are only going to see sales data for a classic store-based channel, and you might miss up-and-coming trends that will happen next.
Limited Predictive Value
Another point to keep in mind is that scanner data is a snapshot in time. Scanner data tells you what's happening now, but you might really be more interested in knowing what's likely to happen in the future and what growth will look like in the next year next five years. Knowing where the opportunities will be can allow you to have the right capacity in place, and the right products to meet changing consumer needs.
Lack of Context
Finally, scanner data tells you relatively simple information—are people buying yogurt, are people buying canned pet food—but it’s not telling you about eating or buying occasions. For instance, you can learn about breakfast cereal sales, but do you know if consumers are eating it for breakfast or a midnight snack?
Another Source of Consumer Insights: Packaged Facts
Scanner data is just a starting point. Market research from Packaged Facts can help give you a fuller picture of the market.
Packaged Facts provides proprietary in-house consumer insights surveys that ask the “why,” “what,” and “when” questions to probe deeper. Our database has decades worth of industry knowledge and information from both Packaged Facts and our sister brand The Freedonia Group to really analyze across categories and predict what’s happening next. By tracking industries for years, we’ve seen evolutions over time and can apply those patterns to pinpoint where the market is heading in the future.
Packaged Facts considers broad themes and questions, such as important trends regarding mealtimes versus snack times, how people are eating at home versus eating out, who is doing the eating (parents or kids), how immigration affects the way people eat and shop, where people are getting their information about food or pet products, and how people are thinking about indulgence versus health versus price versus sustainability. We use this analysis to highlight where the opportunities are and what sorts of products and marketing opportunities or channels may be the most promising.
Packaged Facts research also uses a cross-disciplinary lens. For example, sustainability is always a key issue. We’re thinking about it on the pet side, and the food and beverage side, and we’re also looking at how sustainability affects packaging. So there’s a unique interdisciplinary perspective we can provide because of the breadth of our research coverage.