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Author's profile photo Lothar Volker Wilhelm

Leverage the power of the consumer to sense and shape demand

For years, companies have tackled new customer or market challenges by accelerating and optimizing the supply side as best as possible to improve service levels and achieve higher customer satisfaction. This was usually done via a lean supply chain approach. But this approach has diminishing returns.


In volatile markets the power shifts dramatically towards the end-consumer, and ignoring that new reality will result in, not only, losing market share for existing brands on large scale, but also missing extensive growth opportunities for business.

In a recent blog, The Emergence of the Demand Network we discussed how new concepts like demand driven supply chains, demand-driven forecasting and demand sensing and shaping are taking traction,  and giving companies the tools  to enable an agile and more demand driven business model.

The ultimate goal is, to drive the right business activities across departments and organizations,   and to optimize the under-laying downstream business processes. As I talk to companies around the globe, l consistently here three questions outlining what is really possible beyond hype and myth:

  • How do I unleashing the potential of big data and leveraging information in real-time to manage demand?
  • How can I remove organizational silos to, share this information in a collaborative way?
  • How can I incorporate unstructured data such as social media, POS  and syndicated data into my business processes? (See blog Know what your consumers are thinking, before they do!)

Leveraging real-time demand to drive promotions

Most companies in consumer facing industries are heavily promotion-driven and face the high risks on having the dreaded “Out-Of-Stock” situations during promotion peaks. Even more surprising is that many companies face out-of-stock situations in the “post promotion” timeframe. This is even more disastrous because it can quickly erode revenue and market share and push the consumer towards competitor’s brands.

The key to avoiding this is real time visibility into demand fluctuations to drive analytical and predictive capabilities along with trade promotion optimization to minimize out-of-stock situations and drive higher revenues and market share.

There are many other areas from achieving higher forecast accuracy to introducing better product launches where a more market and demand centric model will pay out.

Leveraging syndicated data to drive marketing

It is often said that ‘marketing is an art rather than a science. However, with today’s technology and the great volumes of data available we are seeing signs that this is changing.

In a recent article we described how Beiersdorf, a leading global provider of skin care consumer products, are leveraging “big data” to gain deeper and faster insights into their market share development so they can stay ahead of their competitors.

Beiersdorf leverage Nielsen and IRI data to analyze market share for various product categories, both at regional/country level as well as global level. They keep track and analyze how a certain brand or category in a certain market/region has evolved over time. They do that on a global level and then they are able to drill down to individual markets.

With this approach, Beiersdorf will be able to automate the data harmonization process dramatically reducing the time lag between global and local market reporting. What used to be a very long and laborious process will be done automatically with more accurate and real time results allowing Beiersdorf to move beyond the logistics of gathering and cleansing data to analyzing the data, developing insights and making effective data driven decisions. Beiersdorf to gain new analytical viewpoints into product attributes such as gender, pack size, application form, benefits, …etc. enabling them to collect more market intelligence and detect key reasons for market share developments and new trends in real time.

So the old adage “the customer is king” is truer today, more than ever before. The key is to harness and leverage this power to sense and shape their thinking and try to stay one step ahead.

Click here to learn more about how a ‘truly’ demand driven approach can change your business.

See you, Volker Wilhelm

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      Author's profile photo Richard Howells
      Richard Howells

      Nice blog Volker.  The demand network is here to stay. This is a great example of how SAP is and can help our customers.