Analytics Plus Insights Equals Success for Church & Dwight 

By Dale Buss

Church & Dwight dominates the stain-fighting part of the detergent aisle in the grocery store with OxiClean. And its other brands, ranging from Arm & Hammer detergents to Nair hair remover, have substantial spots in several other categories scattered around the supermarket.

But whether it has a dominant brand or only an also-ran in a given segment, the company increasingly has come to rely on a combination of shopper marketing and category management to work successfully with retailers on leveraging Church & Dwight products and sales to the advantage of both parties.

“Whether it’s shopper marketing or category management, our [retailer] customers trust us,” Jon Troy, until recently the director of category management for the Ewing, N.J.-based company, told “We come back with information that helps them better understand their category and where the opportunities are there. We’re partners with them.”

Church & Dwight has been layering shopper marketing on top of its earlier competencies in category management, Troy said. “That’s been easier to do as our customers have better data than in the past and more shopper-focused programing. We have more data from Nielsen and customers loyalty-card programs. We’re better able to understand the shopper than ever before.”

Thus, instead of account-specific marketing programs of the past, he said, “We’re able to do more targeted programs focusing on the shopper we both want to attract. With every customer offering similar products across every channel these days, there are a lot more choices for shoppers for meeting their trip needs. Each [retailer] needs to focus on which trip needs they want to meet, and what will they need to be the [destination], and how their shoppers will behave in their stores, and what’s currently being addressed through that outlet for that shopping trip.”

OxiClean is an important brand for Church & Dwight. The laundry-stain-buster has about a 45-percent share of its category, depending on exactly how it’s defined. “OxiClean is driving the category and our business,” said Troy, who now is insights and analytics lead for marketing for the company. “Consumers get the products they want while we and our retailer partners drive category and brand sales.”

To maintain its lead in the segment, Troy said, “You must have consumer insights as well as shopper insights, so that when you go to market partnering with customers, you are starting with the shopper in  mind and making sure anything you do is beneficial to both you and your customer – all working toward meeting the shopper’s needs.”

In the stain-fighter category, for instance, Church & Dwight continuously invests in consumer research “including identifying unmet needs to feed innovation,” Troy said. The company also “overinvestes” in media spending: With less than half of the category, though the largest share, Church & Dwight’s “share of voice” in the segment is about 75 percent.

“It drives people to the category and makes people aware of the category and OxiClean, and drives them to the shelf,” Troy said. And applying its strength in category management in the segment that it dominates, the company also recommends to participating retailers other, even competing, products that should be on their shelves with OxiClean.

But while advertising is a primary driver in the stain-fighter category, retailers’ price-promotion activity also can shift the numbers. Troy said that it isn’t as easy to tell whether shopper marketing truly influences consumers significantly in the segment.

“It’s a limitation on shopper marketing because you’re less able to quantify the ROI, where with pure trade promotion I can look at it and say, ‘I invested X in a feature or display, and this is the lift I got.’ Or from marketing you get impressions from traditional media measurement.

“With shopper marketing it’s more fuzzy how you quantify it. One reason is that it’s almost never done by itself; there’s always another component such as trade promotion or even how the shelf is merchandised. It’s difficult to pluck out what shopper marketing is driving.”
Troy concluded: “But there are no more shortfalls with shopper marketing than with trade promotion or category management. When they’re all used together holistically, that’s what drives business. When they’re all driven by insights, that’s a key piece of it as well.”

But while Church & Dwight has developed category-management competencies across its product lines, it sometimes has to take a back seat in that practice to bigger brands in segments where it’s not nearly as dominant as in laundry stain-fighters.

“We’re in many categories that are important to us, but our share of those categories is less important to our customers,” Troy said. For instance, oral care “is important to us, but we’re a smaller piece of the overall business, so the likelihood is the category management there is going to have something to do with Crest or Colgate. In cat litter, it’ll probably be Clorox, Even in laundry, P&G is huge in that category.

“We have very big and forward-looking competitors in most of our categories.”

Still, Church & Dwight can provide valuable insights to retailers and an “unbiased perspective that helps our customers drive their business. That’s our advantage. Customers trust us. We come back with information that helps them better understand the category and where the opportunities are. We’re partners with them whether we’re called category captains or not.”

Church & Dwight also is at the forefront of a new effort among CPGs and retailers to improve category management across the board, Troy said. A cross-industry and cross-functional task force began working on this concern a few weeks ago.

One prong of this effort is to have a greater focus on shoppers as brands and stores collaborate. The second aspect is “how to get more manufacturers and retailers involved in the collaborative process,” he said. “Big manufacturers don’t’ work as much with smaller retailers as they could, and big retailers don’t work as much with third- and fourth-tier manufacturers. All retailers and manufacturers can add value in the collaborative process, as long as they keep the shopper at the forefront of their plans.

“There’s a way to do this,” Troy said, “and also serve the shopper best.”

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                                                                              March 2014