Dunnhumby Launches BzzAgent Dashboard -- With Some Help from Unilever

Packaged-Goods Giant Helped Refine Pulse Social-Media Tool

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When Dunnhumby bought BzzAgent last year, it wasn't immediately obvious to the outside world what the synergy would be between a word-of -mouth marketing network and the analytics company behind loyalty programs at Kroger Co. and Macy's among others.

BzzAgentPulse Sentiment feed
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Click to view tracking of reviews

But with the official release of the analytics dashboard BzzAgent Pulse by Dunnhumby USA, the strategy becomes a little clearer. The system, built on data combined from the two companies, slices and dices sales impact of buzz-marketing programs among the million registered BzzAgents in just about every imaginable way, in addition to providing detailed analysis of sales impact from BzzAgent or other marketing efforts.

For marketers hankering for accountability from their social-media programs, Pulse tracks BzzAgents' social-media presence on behalf of brands on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere -- also tracking reviews [see image left] and attributing sales lifts to WOM programs. It also tracks campaign impact by shopper segment, identifying for example how much came from new households vs. existing ones.

BzzAgentPulse Shopper Insights feed
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Click to view shopper insights tracking

"The tool is brilliant," said Oliver Bradley, eCommerce innovation and shopper insights manager for Unilever, who's spent the past six months with Dunnhumby working on refining Pulse. "I've seen a lot of dashboards in my time. I think BzzAgent Pulse is the best."

Importance of words
While Pulse is chock full of numbers, what Mr. Bradley, a former Marmite brand manager, actually likes the most are the words -- culled from verbatim discussions between BzzAgents and their social-media contacts.

"The word cloud is really interesting in terms of having a sense of what people are talking about. You can then drill into themes -- such as 'tastes like homemade,' or into negative feedback to see what specific comments were," Mr. Bradley said. "The other tab I use a lot is the one with reviews on it."

The word cloud can be sorted by customer segment, with the default segmentation scheme being that used by Kroger but with a possibility of overlaying a marketer's own segmentation system.

If purchase data suggests a certain segment is buying more or less of a product than expected, the word cloud and associated verbatim can help identify why, said Malcolm Faulds, senior VP-marketing of BzzAgent, adding that it's being used often to diagnose issues with new products at early stages.

"What we're really trying to do here is bridge the shopper data Dunnhumby has with the qualitative feedback we're getting from brand advocates," Mr. Faulds said. "It's like an ongoing focus group you can slice and dice according to the dimensions that are important to you."

Useful across the board
Pulse draws data not just from the million BzzAgents, but also from the Dunnhumby Continuous Panel, a group of 6 million households drawn from the Kroger shopper database and normalized to provide a national view of product sales, he said.

Oliver Bradley
Oliver Bradley

Mr. Bradley said BzzAgent Pulse has proved useful across Unilever functional areas -- including sales, brand marketing, market research and research and development.

"It's not just for people in e-commerce or in brand," he said. "R&D needs access so they can read firsthand what shoppers think about the taste of some of our products or fragrances or consistency, the kind of in-use characteristics they need to fix or improve on."

That hits on a theme Dunnhumby increasingly has focused on both with retailers and consumer packaged-goods marketers -- "organizational engagement" -- or using shopper data and analytics throughout the organization.

One key reason for the deal was that BzzAgent works primarily with marketing people while Dunnhumby works primarily with the sales teams, Mr. Faulds said.

"The premise of Dunnhumby buying BzzAgent was so that they could build on customer loyalty to identify advocates, and then identify certain loyal customers who could become brand advocates," Mr. Faulds said. "It's still about taking care of your best customers, but then going beyond it by directly engaging them and giving them opportunities to get even more involved with brands, and do that in a way that penetrates social networks of people who will buy more. "

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