Every manufacturer and every retailer knows that the weeks of the year are not of equal importance. If, for example, you sell pencils and backpacks, you know that there is time in the late summer — the “back-to-school” season — that can either make or break you.

But key weeks can also make and break you.

It’s fairly common for a company to look at the numbers from its key weeks and see only the obvious (sales are up!) and miss the less-than-obvious (everyone’s sales are up, and our market share fell!).

Recently we worked with two brands from very different spaces that had just such a blind spot.

In the first example, a clothing manufacturer, let’s call it Brand X, thought that things were going quite well. Sales were rising most every month compared with a year earlier.

But that was only half the picture.

When we looked at the manufacturer’s weekly sales data, we found a very different story. The entire segment was seeing sales rise on a monthly and annual basis — but Brand X was lagging behind its rivals in key weeks. While Brand X’s overall sales were better than before, they were worse than those of competitors in the most important times of the year. Brand X was losing share in a rising market.

We saw a situation with a children’s product manufacturer that was both quite similar and quite different. Sales of one of its most longstanding brands, let’s call it Product Y, were declining. The parent company needed to move quickly to re-strategize and turn things around.

This time, a look at weekly data and Account Level Reports (in which retailers allow manufacturers to see detailed information about how their items perform) showed the issue could be price related.

The marketplace was flooded with dramatically deep discounts of items that competed with Product Y, causing both a key retailer and the manufacturer to lose dollar share in one of their largest categories. And those discounts got deeper during the key pre-Christmas season.

As it turned out, price collaboration was required between the retailer and the manufacturer to better position Product Y during key times of the year.

Finding solutions to situations such as those faced by Brand X and Product Y isn’t easy (and will likely involve a lot of conversations with retailers). But the solutions can only be found when we look at the right set of data and uncover the real problems.

For more stories such as the one above, download the mini e-book by The NPD Group called Six Retail Insights Hidden in Data.

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