Meet the Data Wonks Who Work in Beer, Booze and Food

How a kitchen expert, sales exec and booze analyst are using data to sell more cheese, beer and cocktails.

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Robin Ross, Associate Director of Culinary
Kraft Foods Group

Robin Ross, Kraft Foods Group
Robin Ross, Kraft Foods Group
What is the household penetration of parchment paper? It's a typical query thrown to Ms. Ross, who oversees the marketer's "pantry study," conducted every four years to determine the most commonly used ingredients and cookware. Kraft surveys 2,000 households using an eight-page questionnaire. The data guides Kraft as it develops recipes, package instructions and products. Some recent insights: People are using smaller skillets and more ethnic spices. As for parchment paper, while usage is on the rise, it's still not omnipresent. So Kraft stuck with foil when developing recipes for its new Fresh Take brand of cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs.

Nick Lundquist, Director of National Accounts
Sierra Nevada

Nick Lundquist, Sierra Nevada
Nick Lundquist, Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada has steadily increased its use of data to guide sales strategy, a charge led in part by Mr. Lundquist, a philosophy/pre-law major and former beer-truck driver. When seeking more space at groceries, his team will often cite "basket ring" information showing that the average Sierra drinker buys more expensive products -- like fine meats -- than fans of other brands. At convenience stores the brand uses demographic data by ZIP code to only target locations that have plenty of its core consumers: men ages 22 to 44 with incomes of $75,000-plus. "We don't want to be everywhere," Mr. Lundquist said. "We want to be where we are supposed to be."

Vanessa McClain-Duer, Senior Analyst
Global Consumer Insights, Beam Inc.

Vanessa McClain-Duer, Beam
Vanessa McClain-Duer, Beam
When you are looking for insights on a brand that didn't exist just a few years ago, you've got to get creative. Such is life at Skinnygirl, the upstart low-calorie cocktail brand that Beam acquired from reality-TV star Bethenny Frankel. Because there is no brand history to pull from, marketers must marry a bunch of data sources. A lot of that falls to Ms. McClain-Duer, a former sensory scientist at L'Oreal who these days combs through market research to determine Skinnygirl's next steps. One example: Loyalty-card data revealed that Skinnygirl fans are into Greek yogurt, which led the brand to hang coupons on bottles in a cross-promotion.

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