Once again, welcome back to our monthly series on CMF data! In the last chapter, we spoke about the common mistakes when collecting data through CMF surveys. This time, we will be covering another source that many CMF Designers have huge interest in: competitors’ sales records.

Competitor Data Do’s & Don’ts

Why is this important? While we excel in our design skills, data utilization might not be our strongest suit. Instead of being caught off guard, it is important for CMF Designers to be equipped with the correct understanding of how to utilize data sources.

I’ve seen designers try to use competitors’ sales data per color – as evidence to support their own color proposals. While the motivation is good, there are blind spots that we should be aware of 👀

Most companies’ sales data are confidential information and not publicly accessible.

First of all, most companies’ sales data is confidential and not publicly accessible. Companies protect this information to maintain their competitive edge. Very unlikely companies will release such information to the public, nor do sales channels (e.g. Amazon) have the authority to profits from clients’ sales information. That means, this is going to a dead end street. Don’t waste time searching for it!

Some research groups would conduct surveys on shopper preferences. These are more openly accessible. Example by Slice Intelligence survey in 2016. Note that this type of data sources is still not perfect and may come with downsides.

As an alternative, some research groups conduct surveys on shopper preferences. For example, a survey conducted by Slice Intelligence in 2016 as shown above. Though these types of surveys are more accessible, they also have their limitations. For instance, note that survey participants are general online shoppers and may not be iPhone buyers, which doesn’t make this survey irrelevant, but definitely a detail to be aware of before being questioned.

There are also companies using A.I. detection to capture in-market colors. Both of these are more openly accessible. Design teams can also hire companies to conduct tailored surveys. Revisit Vol 4. CMF Data on Common Misuse for common tips on conducting CMF surveys.

Looking to conduct a CMF survey but don’t know where to start?
Book a time to consult with Rina.

In-market sales performance speaks of the past, but does not promise the future.

The other downside of in-market sales performance is the fact that it speaks of the past, but does not promise the future. Survey results can only tell you what has been happening but that doesn’t necessarily represent the market trend. To illustrate, Color A might have been selling well in the last quarter, but that doesn’t indicate whether it will continue to be popular or start to decline.

On-shelf colors are limited, and do not capture buyer preferences across the full spectrum of colors.

Also, remember that competitor sales data reflects limited options and doesn’t capture consumer preferences across the full spectrum of colors. Color A might have been successful for Company Z, but it may be specific to its industry or its particular choice of saturation and brightness that attracts consumers to purchase such CMF SKU.

On the other hand, if Color A hasn’t been doing well for Company Y, it doesn’t necessarily mean the color is generally a poorly performing color. It could be the specific shade of this color that is not preferred by that industry’s consumers.

Use available competitor data to shape portfolio strategy, instead of blindly duplicate its color.

It all comes back to one principal about data – data is just numbers, read into the background story to shape the right strategy.

Even if you could access competitors’ sales data, it might not provide the specific insights you need. Sales data alone doesn’t capture the full context, such as marketing strategies, regional preferences, or product positioning, which significantly impact sales figures.

Use available competitor data to shape your portfolio strategy, instead of blindly duplicate its color.

Imagine data is like bottles of salt and pepper on the kitchen shelf and ingredients in the fridge. You might be able to get easy-to-access ones from a common grocery store, or even get scarce ones sometimes. But either way, it is you, the chef, knowing how to cook these ingredients that can actually bring out a tasty dish.

We’re coming closer to the end of our monthly CMF Data series. Hope you’ve enjoyed it so far!

Looking to implement CMF data into your strategy but don’t know where to start?
Book a time to consult with Rina.

Problem-solving ??? ?????. Former head of CMF at Motorola. A New York-based and world-traveling Design Consultant with over 13 years of specialty in CMF Design. 高雄囡仔,前摩托羅拉CMF設計團隊負責人,目前定居於紐約並遊牧世界,任自由撰稿人兼CMF設計顧問,持續投入在CMF設計的科普推廣,並為WGSN及羅技等公司提供CMF專案支持或諮詢服務。

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