Bill Bishop, Brick Meets Click"Big data” — new systems that allow the meshing of huge amounts of timely information and insights from traditional metrics like sales and inventory and unstructured data like e-mail and social media — is a white-hot topic in marketing circles.
Looking long term, the Food Foresight 2013 trends report sees big data transforming agrifood marketing and competitive advantage as we know it.
Many people point to last fall’s presidential campaign as the game changer.
The Obama campaign effectively sliced and diced big data with unprecedented precision to determine which clusters of voters were key to victory and how to get them to the polls.
While this is all in the early stages of development, the implications to agri-food marketing and competitive advantage are well worth exploring.
A brickmeetsclick.com study (“Moving Forward with Big Data — The Future of Retail Analytics,” April 2013), chronicles thoughtful retailers and suppliers drawing insights from demand tools such as sales promotions, loyalty programs and the merchandising mix, even actions by competitors.
Equally, if not more, important for produce are efforts to optimize operations, reduce out-of-stocks and increase inventory efficiency. Big data, for example, can track product quality as it travels to market.
It’s becoming practical to have multiple temperature sensors on the same truck (versus just one). This gives the receiving organization the ability to manage products, even cases, differently depending on how they are handled in transit. It can lead to big savings for handlers and retailers and greater value to growers.
The collection of big data is already occurring across the agrifood continuum — from precision farming to retail — but no one is connecting the dots from production to retail or “field to fork” in the name of strategically improving shopper satisfaction and product marketing.
Many farmers are using big data on the farm to increase productivity, deliver the right product quality and size, and to optimize inputs and natural resources. Big data allows farmers to demonstrate that they know and care for their orchards, for example, one tree at a time and are responsible stewards of the earth’s natural resources.