How to use data to develop a winning assortment strategy

By Joshua Weatherwax

6 min read

August 16, 2021

Today’s consumer packaged goods manufacturers have access to a seemingly infinite amount of data on their customers, product performance and shopping behaviors. But how do you use the numbers to your advantage? It’s easy to get lost in the data, and the trick is figuring out which data point answers your immediate question, and what the data says your next step should be, without sinking too many hours of your life into analysis.


Leverage data to get ahead in product assortment

Fine-tuning your assortment on retailers’ shelves is one challenge where the right data at the right time can make a big difference. Gaining and defending shelf space at your retail partners’ locations is critical for sales growth, and the right data can demonstrate that your products are a profitable addition to the shelves. 


Of course, assortment is never exactly the same between retailers, so it can be a massive logistical undertaking for small and medium-sized businesses to develop an optimal strategy for each retail partner and location.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic also continues to make retail unpredictable. Products getting delisted is always a significant concern for manufacturers, but this risk is heightened in the fast-evolving post-COVID landscape. Of all products launched in 2019, 29% disappeared from shelves in 2020, and 31% of products launched in January 2019 were delisted within the first 12 months, according to NielsenIQ.



Incentivize retailers to keep you on the shelf 

You’re already confident that your products can perform well and fill a gap in the market. But in order to succeed, the products must get on-shelf in front of customers. Getting the right product lines, the right mix of your products, on the right shelves in the right markets makes a huge difference in sales. Consumers know where to find their favorite products, and come back every week to restock. 


With delisting rates high for new products and small businesses, a proactive assortment strategy is essential. Showing a retailer that certain products are helping to grow different categories and also to increase customer loyalty will give your retailer partners an incentive to prioritize your business and keep your products on their shelves.


Manufacturers with a detailed assortment strategy backed by unbiased data have a better chance of not only building a loyal customer base, but also demonstrating that to retailers. 


Unbiased data is key to winning the trust of both your current and would-be retailers. Winning new distribution in a category review requires objective data to prove your product’s case. Likewise, maintaining and growing that relationship also requires concrete, data-driven proof of your brand’s success.


Customer needs and expectations vary widely and change often, and staying on top of trends is a crucial part of developing a winning plan for assortment, pricing and promotion. Arming yourself with the right data that shows your products are profitable and that they are an asset to a retailer can help you avoid losing shelf space, and develop an iron-clad strategy for leading with the right products at the right time.


The best way to defend and grow shelf space is with data. Of course, a lot of that data has often been inaccessible for emerging brands.


A host of business intelligence tools and datasets are available to today’s CPG manufacturers, but how do you make sense of them, or decide which approach is best for your brand? There’s plenty of data to go around, but you probably don’t have the time and money to spend to interpret it. 


That’s where NielsenIQ Brand Score can help. This tool analyzes billions of complex data points and breaks the numbers down into actionable scores. This lets you zero in on where your products may be at risk of being delisted, and identifies tangible next steps you can take to improve your shelf organization, and ultimately increase your category sales.

Use NielsenIQ Brand Score to defend shelf space

No product is guaranteed success, no matter how large of a team and budget a brand has in place behind it. The good news is, today, small and medium CPG brands can use NielsenIQ Brand Score to get unbiased, actionable data quickly and painlessly, to better inform their assortment strategies. 


Ineffective and complicated tools are an obstacle that smaller manufacturers often struggle to understand. But when your brand is growing, you don’t have that time to waste. 


NielsenIQ Brand Score enables you to immediately assess your assortment performance by retailer in comparison to competitors with a simple and intuitive Assortment score index. In addition, you can dive deep across key drivers such as your velocity ($ sales/TDP), Opportunities, and Risk analysis at an item level. 

Use NIQ Brand Scores to implement your assortment strategy


NielsenIQ Brand Score does the hard work for you. Automatically identify all opportunities for your items to expand distribution and the dollar value of that expansion. And, importantly, watch out for those items in danger of being delisted.


NIQ Brand Scores tell you where you're at risk of being delisted


With NielsenIQ Brand Score you will know in an instant how your assortment strategy measures up. Several metrics are distilled into a single score, resulting in a concise evaluation of where your brand is winning, what needs improvement, and how you stack up against competition. Get started today for free access to actionable recommendations to grow your sales.

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