What Does Derek Jeter Have to Do with Data for Wine? A Lot More Than You’d Think.

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Do you know about The Player’s Tribune?

Founded by retired Yankee Derek Jeter, The Player’s Tribune delivers daily sports conversation and publishes first-person stories directly from athletes.

Cool, right?

I’m fascinated by this idea. Partly that’s because I’ve been an athlete my whole life and I love “sports talk” and reading stories by athletes who give voice to their own experiences. And partly I love Player’s Trib because the whole model turns journalism on its head, and puts the responsibility of storytelling in the hands of the very people whose story it is to tell.

Straight from the source, so to speak.

This week we’re taking inspiration from Jeter and introducing a new series within Enolytics 101: The stories of data in the wine world, told by the people who actually live it.

The idea is to shine a light on people in roles that often go unrecognized. Too grow awareness of this work. To widen the conversation. To expand understanding that “data” can be valued, “user-friendly” and doable, by people just like you and me.

Today we’ve lined up the first installment of the series, featuring Randy Browne, Business Analytics & Insights Lead at C. Mondavi & Family.

What’s below comes straight from the source. In his own words. By someone just like you and me.

[Emphasis in italics are mine.]

How did you learn about data? How did you get comfortable with it, as something you “do” as part of your everyday job? 

One of my very first careers out of undergrad was working for an advertising research firm. The firm was one of the pioneers of the “science behind advertising” and we did research upon research to help prove out what makes “good” advertising. I spent seven years there and worked with a lot of d\smart, driven, and data-centric people. The culture of the company inspired you to prove out hypotheses, both yours and your clients’, and to ultimately utilize research findings to drive the brand and advertising strategy of our clients’ products and services. If you weren’t comfortable using data to help make recommendations and decisions to clients, you weren’t of much value to the client or the firm. I’ve taken that data-centric mindset with me to every job I’ve had since, and have made a career out of using data, analytics, and consumer research to help drive the growth of the companies I’ve worked for or worked with. 

What value does working with data add to your role on a day-to-day basis?  

Today’s decision-making process across any organization needs to be engrained with data. The “data voice” should have a seat at the table when it comes to all key strategic decisions of the business. At C. Mondavi & Family, my team works with data each day to help our internal clients (Sales, Marketing, National Accounts, Finance, Executives, Supply Chain) understand their business in greater detail. The value that data brings is enormous…but you can also get paralyzed with too much data. Having people and tools that help you and your team focus on the “right” data is key. That takes time to develop, but just like anything else, the more time you spend with data, the more muscle memory is formed, and you and your team learn what to focus on. You become much better trained on the ability to help solve pain points and uncover opportunities for the business

What’s the biggest challenge you face, when it comes to data in the wine world?  

Once you get beyond the four big players in the wine industry, the acceptance, usage, and understanding of data and analytics is hit or miss. The wine industry is behind other Beverage Alcohol industries like Beer and Spirits in their usage of data and analytics, let alone other CPG industries (and well behind Tech, Pharma, Consumer Services, etc.).  If you want to get a true understanding on how data-centric organizations are run, you’ll need to also look outside of the wine industry.

With that being said, there definitely are wine companies that are more forward-thinking in their usage of data and data has become part of their overall DNA.  Whereas, there are other wine companies that haven’t embraced data as much as they should and are still relying on relationships with retailers and distributor partners to guide their business. That doesn’t work anymore. You need to take control of where you want your business to go. Retailers are consolidating the number of SKUs in their stores, especially those SKUs / shelf space that aren’t delivering the ROI needed to keep it on the shelf. Relationships can help you keep your product there for a few extra months, but ultimately, how is your product / brand going to outperform the other 1000+ SKU’s on the shelf or 100+ other wines on the wine list, or even whether your tasting room delivers a superior experience vs the many other choices consumers have? What’s the story you want to tell? How are you different?  What makes you unique and a “must have”? Data can help with this and should be an essential part of the story you tell your retailer / distributor partners, as well as your consumers. Analytic-based data tools and a sales force / support staff / company that understands the need for data and uses it to their advantage will be much farther along the data and analytics ladder than those that don’t. Moving from descriptive analytics (the what) to predictive analytics (the so what and now what) can be a game changer for wine companies. BUT, it takes resources, i.e. $’s to invest in tools and the right type of skill set (people) to bring this type of competitive advantage to the forefront.