Startup Beginnings and Shopper Insights with emporio analytics

 (From left to right) The Founders of emporio analytics: Gerd Palmer, Philipp Stegmann and Andreas Luppold.

(From left to right) The Founders of emporio analytics: Gerd Palmer, Philipp Stegmann and Andreas Luppold.

"Andreas and I (Gerd) had a 'blind date' of sorts on the island of Malta, we fell in love with our joined vision as most business partners do, and things took off from there..."

So originated the beginnings of emporio analytics and their journey into consumer data and insights. Gerd and Andreas, two of the three co-founders of emporio analytics, believed that it was their unique portfolio, product, and approach which branded emporio analytics as a feasible business solution to everyday brand problems. From what first started out as a simple innovation lab for shopper insights on Malta, has evolved into one of the most trusted shopper marketing analytics provider for brands and retailers in Asia Pacific, Europe and Russia.

Throughout the interview, the founders of emporio analytics - Gerd Palmer, Andreas Luppold and Philipp Stegmann - demonstrated their inventive flair for shopper insights and an artistically intense picture of their startup beginnings, combining true innovation and shrewd adaptability with the idyllic backdrop of a Mediterranean paradise.

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Tish: So when did Philipp become part of emporio analytics?

Philipp: I first started out as a client, but soon our ideas aligned and I was more than happy to get onboard with Gerd and Andreas.

Andreas: When things first started at the island of Malta, both Gerd and I realised that we had a passion for research combined with analytics, and Malta had the potential to support an innovation lab to gain insights into the shopping habits of these cosmopolitan young people on the island.

Gerd: In fact, one of the biggest brand companies that we pitched this idea to called us up when we were back in Germany, and told us to head back to Malta to start implementing our idea immediately!

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Tish: You started your career at Ferrero, the chocolate company right?

Philipp: That's right, I was in the new products department. I experimented and worked with data to understand shoppers, and the reasons why they bought the products they do, the performance of products etc. There, we built a 360-degree picture of the shopper and tried to understand their behaviour with the help of the then growing amount of available shopper data.

Gerd: In our line of work, it's important that we would never ask shoppers what they buy or what their shopping behavior is. Reason being, we just wouldn't get an accurate answer by asking them.. This is because most of a shopper's purchases are impulse buys (in most categories), and it's a phenomenon that every shopper experiences - 70-80% of their purchases are subconsciously influenced. So we would rather read the shopper behavior from the data, not from survey.

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Tish: But why this line of work, why shopper marketing analytics?

Philipp: The way brands market their products to consumers are constantly changing, and there is a growing need for brands to understand who their shoppers (not only their consumers) are, what triggers their purchases, as well as the limits and barriers of purchases at the Point of Sale. To make this understanding, brands would need a lot of information. Luckily, digitilisation makes data readily available, but how to make sense of it for shopper marketing purposes in a mainly brick-and-mortar driven environment?. When you look at successful companies such as the Ubers or Amazons of the online world, they only got to where they are because they know how to utilise user behaviour data from their site and deftly tailor their products and communication to users individually.

Andreas: True, and despite the growing e-commerce market, we've noticed that shoppers still feel inclined to enter a store to touch and interact with the products. We've realised that, hence equipping ourselves with the tools and methods of successful companies, such as data-driven A/B testing, behaviour analytics, predictive analytics and segmentation to try and understand how a decision is made. Our main philosophy is to bring our expertise in understanding real behaviour to brand owners in a brick-and-mortar world to enable them to implement true data-driven shopper marketing.

Gerd: It's funny, because when I stepped into LEVEL3's space, the first thing I saw were the words 'Experiment, Pioneer and Collaborate' on the walls. I initially thought you put those words up specially for us, because they accurately epitomised emporio analytics! We have always believed strongly in experimenting, and placed heavy emphasis on collaboration - in the brands case collaboration between retailer and brand based on advanced shopper insights.

Andreas: Naturally, we don't own the stores, brands or the data. What emporio analytics does is to bring these factors together and generate actionable insights from the available shopper data (e.g. from Loyalty Cards) and combine it with our shopper research expertise. Additionally we observe that companies who have the insights, lack of the experience on how to turn these into actions in a data-driven personalised marketing world.. That's where we step in and bring together shopper research, shopper data analytics, and shopper marketing consulting.

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Tish: So what has happened for emporio analytics since getting into business in 2014?

[Gerd, Philipp and Andreas laughs]

Gerd: A lot was happening…. But at the moment, the most exciting thing for us is that we're about to close a huge collaboration agreement with a leading retailer in Southeast Asia! [raps knuckles on the wooden table]. Another good example of what happened would be the onboarding of  the Dixie Group in Russia, the fourth biggest player in the country, which we've just closed a deal with, or being the preferred global analytics provider for SPAR International, the world's largest network of independent retailers.. Furthermore we had exciting projects with brands where we used data to optimise promotions, pricings or planograms based on advanced insights with a much higher accuracy than before.  Of course, we're also working very closely with brands and retailers in Germany, our home country, and are managing real-life shopper labs in places like Moscow and Yekaterinburg. So indeed very eventful few years.

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Tish: You mentioned experimenting, does that happen at shopper labs?

Gerd: Precisely, and there are many things that you could do too. Markets are incredibly saturated these days; just because you bring in a new beer product, it won't mean people would start drinking more beer! Product placement and the different touch points in a store make a huge difference too. We would set up two to three different scenarios in real-life, and see what happens when we change the shopper's world. We can precisely measure the effect using shopper data (e.g. from retailers loyalty cards)

Andreas: It's important to note that we're not manipulating the shopper.

Gerd: On the contrary, we're putting ourselves into the shoes of the shopper and asking ourselves: "What's convenient for the shopper?" It's not about optimising the merchandise chain or the shelves, but rather creating the best shopping experience for consumers in an environment where they aren't stressed.

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Tish: And what about the greatest lessons you've learnt?

Philipp: It's always about the people as they're the decision makers. The philosophy that LEVEL3 champions: Experiment, Pioneer and Collaborate - They are values that are very important for success today. Try it out, build networks, do something new, and be open to failure. In Germany, there's a saying “Es gibt nichts Gutes, außer man tut es!”, that basically means 'Just do it'. And that is what people should do: Try out, Measure the effect and implement successful innovations. Try. Track. Turn. Data enables brands to do exactly this which was before only available to the online world.

Gerd: Another learning would be this - IT alone is not a solution, because the numbers will not help you or give you a solution. You need to know the problem behind the numbers, the thoughts behind the people, how decisions are made and how thoughts influence purchasing decisions.

Andreas: It's about combining the research, analytics and experience to come up with better shopper marketing solutions that are not only actionable but feasible as well. According to our slogan: Shopper. Knowledge. Actions.

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Tish: What can we expect to see from Emporio Analytics in the upcoming years?

Philipp: When it comes to Asia, we intend to build shopper labs with test environments for brands to test their new products, placements and promotions. And using more and more Shopper Data (e.g. with loyalty cards) to help our brand clients to solve problems. The response from brands is very favourable, which creates a great opportunity for us. We also intend to onboard many new and powerful retailers in the years to come. These are just some of the many plans that we have in mind, so you'll see.

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emporio analytics is a member of LEVEL3 — a collaborative innovation workspace that brings Unilever, startups, and entrepreneurs together to deliver meaningful business impact.

Tish Wong