Many small and medium-sized CPGs are still challenging Excel to manage trade spending, and ultimately find that the metrics are entirely too difficult to review & measure, easily or effectively. The data detail is a critical part of any brand’s selling story, but taking the time to translate can often be daunting and a lot of administrative time to execute against. And CPG moves quickly & cyclically.
So while the number of SMB CPG manufacturers using Excel has gone down from 2/3 in the mid-2000s, it’s still very often the natural place brands begin when starting to organize their data. For its age, it is a really basic yet unique tool you can still bend a great deal of functionality out of.
The problem with trying to use Excel to manage & analyze trade spending is that ANY brand’s data is ultimately too outsized to measure in that tool. The dialogue of a deal isn’t naturally linear. It is difficult to keep track of who promised what deal to which retailer by event, and once the corresponding deductions start coming in, it becomes less of a data story so much as a nightmare. It feels impossible to get a timely, big picture perspective, and trying to do planning or getting reports with different views by retailer, brand, promotional event, or region is complex, time consuming and incredibly challenging for even the most excel savvy teams.
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