Today, consumer package goods (CPG) companies are selling more categories of products through a wider variety of channels to a broader range of customers Terry Stickler Stibo Systemsacross a wider geography. To meet these challenges, they need consistent and accurate information about their products and customers in order to better promote and sell through their value chain of distributors and retailers.

While high-quality products and services are still important, consumers have expanded their expectations to include exceptional customer experiences every time they interact with a product. Accurate product, partner and customer information must be gathered and reviewed to understand individual customer journeys for buying and using a particular product. The challenge for brand management is still focused on how to find and collect data, but also increasingly more about how to put it to work. 

Overcoming challenges within segmented brand management
Segmented brand management among different business units and too many siloed information systems are other challenges that create a fragmented approach to brand and product information management and may be damaging to a company’s outward-facing appearance with customers. Persistent out-of-stock problems, poor local translations of product information, missing or inaccurate ingredients on product labels and highly publicized and costly recalls all can create a negative image for manufacturers. However, it is often the internal systems and processes that depend on accurate data for customers, products, partners and channels to prevent issues that may ultimately drive customers to the competition.

Taking charge of critical information assets across the organization ensures that nothing gets in the way of consumers buying the products. As a result, many CPG manufacturers are already leveraging multi-domain master data management (MDM) technology to gain better control of the widespread information needed to promote their brand throughout the value chain. 

Obtaining greater value from an organization's information assets is essential to elevating brands and to helping refrigerated and frozen food manufactures fuel improved growth and competitiveness. Building brand value results in more customers repeatedly purchasing products and services, which leads to the ultimate prize—brand loyalty. Unfortunately, food manufactures often have too many redundant systems and data sources across global business units. Requirements from manufacturing, suppliers, distributors, retailers, worldwide regulatory compliance and consumers alike placed additional complexity on managing this staggering amount of data.

Storing and tracking data for raw ingredients alone presents a significant challenge, especially since accuracy is critical. A single ingredient can come from many sources, each of which may have a different origin and composition. Typically, it’s part of an overall bill of materials or recipe for making the end product. Now, visualize taking that ingredient through the entire manufacturing process at all production sites, and then taking the end product through the value chain of distributors and retailers on to store shelves and into the hands of consumers. 

Labeling errors are costly for food manufacturers, especially if a recall occurs. Publishing accurate information for brand managers, business units and value chain partners is a complex task, and many companies have come to rely on MDM technology to eliminate errors and redundancies. With the right systems in place, business units and other corporate data consumers can access accurate, integrated views of customers and products. Also, performance evaluations can be accurately generated for value chain partners, retail promotions and product launches. Overall portfolio complexity is also reduced, resulting in inventory reductions, and critical information that is shared or published in any channel is accurate and up-to-date.

CPG companies looking to expand on a global scale have to deal with an array of challenges, including adhering to local regulations, meeting regional market demands and reaching customer expectations. Reliable and consistent information is critical for product labeling, safety standards, regulatory compliance, product promotions and value chain data lineage. Yet often, it’s difficult to maintain accurate, consistent information across worldwide markets. Not only do the right products need to go through the right channels, they also must reach the right markets and consumers at the right time with the right price.  

Food manufacturers often lack accurate, up-to-date product information because product data is isolated in different brand management functions (with separate systems and data definitions), which can result in decreased brand vitality and incomplete brand value creation.  However, consistency in brand and product identity doesn’t just happen on its own, especially without centralized data and content management. Accurate, up-to-date information is essential for building strong brand equity across all value chains. Consistent, rich product information and messaging for the entire value chain goes a long way toward helping food manufacturers improve the customer experience while elevating their brand.