male grocery store assistant taking inventory for product assortment planning

Why Product Attribute Data is the Best Kept Secret in Assortment Planning Tools for Retailers

Test New Products Strategically

As a retailer, you’ve probably found yourself in a common but important debate: How do you provide customers with their everyday needs while also evolving so you stay relevant in today’s marketWhen you’re held accountable for your store’s present-day performance and building long-term growth, that’s a tricky balance to strike. Most stores—especially independent and regional grocers—have limited shelf space that can’t accommodate the stream of new products hitting the market every year.  

Independent and regional grocers didn’t always have access to data because it was often scaled only to enterprise retailers or was so complicated it felt like it required a Ph.D. to understand. That has thankfully changed and now retailers of all sizes are relying on data to test products, explore emerging brands, and discover the niche their store can own. Here’s how retail leaders—from category managers to executives—are doing it.  

What is Product Intelligence?

Product Intelligence is attribution information that SPINS captures from products, including front-of-label, and back-of-label, and brand call-outs.

“We think it’s powerful to not only call out what is in the product but also what isn't,” says Kristin Litchfield, Director of Business Development (Product Intelligence) at SPINS. “Think allergies, diets—shoppers are becoming savvier about what they’re looking for.”

As more shoppers make purchases, the SPINS Product Intelligence attributes library gathers more information that you can learn from and plug into various aspects of your business.

Expert Lens: Best Practices for Product Assortment Planning

Why Do Retailers Rely on Product Attributes in Assortment Planning?

Litchfield says that those savvy shoppers are a great reason to integrate data into your day-to-day operations: It’s both a window into what customers want and also meets customers where they are. For example, in the last year, COVID has accelerated the online experience and eCommerce habits, and product Intelligence attributes helped retailers deliver a better customer experience across all of those fronts.  

For instance, certifications play an increasing role in buying motivation for shoppers committed to sustainability, a specific diet, or transparent product methods. SPINS attributes include certifications so you can something more interesting is going when clean products are selling well across categories.  

specific chocolate product doing well might not seem noteworthy, but if it shares the same clean label certification that is also on growing plant-based burger patties and oat milk, then it’s probably a trend you should take a closer look at and promote to customers on at every possible interaction. Carrying more of these products doesn’t just let you gain sales from a growing trend; it also signals to the shopper that you are leading the way for new options they should try or that few other retailers are providing. 

“Retailers are using data more and more, it's almost imperative for them to do so now.”

woman reading product label in grocery store
Product Intelligence is both a window into what customers want and how your product assortment stacks against their demand.

How Retailers are Using Product Intelligence to Test New Products

Before you focus on innovation, you want to make sure you’re stocking the everyday items your customers expect from you. Category and channel sales data lets you know the reliable sellers that are table stakes in your store—the brand of bread, types of produce, meat and meat alternatives, and more. Those are the items you never want to run out of because that’s what gets your customers through the door.  

Once you have those stocked and know they are consistent performers, you can start to find out what differentiates you from the competition and where you can test a new product. Customers come to your store because you stock the everyday products they need to get through the week, but they’re also choosing you over a big-box retailer because they expect you to push them a little bit as well 

They can discover new products that they haven’t heard of based on how you merchandise or run a promotion, or they might seek you out to try a new trend they’ve heard about recently. Retailers can look in the SPINS Product Intelligence database to see which products they should stock to satisfy that inquisitive customer.   

“We capture lots of product information…and we’re constantly looking at how those trends are translating not only within a particular store or across that store but across the retailers they compete with,” says Litchfield. SPINS can spot emerging trends within up-and-coming items or new call-outs before the mass market takes notice. “[We] triangulate where those trends are going, and we can help our customers understand that a trend is picking up.” 

Stay Innovative in the Assortment Planning Process

Retaining a loyal customer base requires a balance of providing them with the products they need and helping them discover new offerings that haven’t hit the mainstream yet. Let SPINS help you find the combination that works for you and your shoppers. Contact us to learn more about SPINS Product Intelligence today. 


How Attributes Helped a Retailer Improve Category Growth

When a SPINS exclusive retailer wanted to boost category growth, they realized attributes held the information they needed. By looking at what was performing well in their stores and across the market, they discovered where their strengths and weaknesses were. Find out how they turned attribute data into results.

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