Case Study: Imperial Tobacco

Improved Collaboration with a Behavioural Clustering Approach. Leading supplier supports retailers with an improved category understanding, driving targeted and customer focused insights.

Case Study: Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco - Improved Collaboration with a Behavioural Clustering Approach

Leading supplier supports retailers with an improved category understanding, driving targeted and customer focused insights

Imperial Tobacco - Improved Collaboration with a Behavioural Clustering Approach

The Challenge

In an industry that remains ever challenging, tobacco goods manufacturers must strive to differentiate themselves from their competition to provide retail partners with credible and accurate category advice, tailored to suit customer demand.

A recognised Global Leader and the largest tobacco manufacturer in the UK, Imperial Tobacco works in collaboration with a variety of retail partners across 160 countries worldwide, offering a portfolio of successful brands including Lambert & Butler, JPS, Golden Virginia and Gold Leaf.

Imperial Tobacco Case Study

Imperial Tobacco has a rich history of working successfully with retailers to offer category management advice across cluster, assortment and space planning; ranging from national level recommendations through to retailer specific for key multiple accounts. With rapid market evolution, Imperial Tobacco continually strives to maintain and grow its thought leadership and support to retailers through improved category excellence, offering the most credible category analysis and advice.

In a bid to remain, competitive Imperial Tobacco realised a key requirement in the next stage of its journey; to become more customer focused by adopting a more granular and automated behavioural clustering approach. This would provide an improvement to the existing methodology which saw Imperial Tobacco utilise EPOS data analysis to generate bottom-up clusters but proved restrictive due to taking weeks at a time to conduct manually and without providing the true level of granularity required to yield the best insights for the cluster. What’s more, the existing approach lacked the flexibility for Imperial Tobacco to quickly react to retailer requirements within a short time-frame at key category review periods.

Imperial Tobacco analysed a number of options, including the possibility of building a solution in-house and after careful consideration determined that the best approach would be to select a forward thinking partner who could offer both industry experience and a software solution to provide automated customer focused analytics and accurate store groupings.

At Imperial Tobacco we put our retailers first and support their growth with an improved and dynamic category understanding to meet their needs” said Dean Elson, Distribution and Availability Executive at Imperial Tobacco, “Galleria’s industry experience and approach made this a natural progression for Imperial Tobacco to fulfil our needs with the ability to rapidly provide customer focused insights.Dean Elson, Distribution and Availability Executive, Imperial Tobacco

A Partnership for Success with Behavioural Clustering

In June 2013 Imperial Tobacco began working with Galleria, the leading provider of retailer and manufacturer category optimization solutions and consultancy services, working with some of the worlds’ largest retailers and vendors including Coop Denmark, Giant Eagle, Imperial Tobacco, Morrison’s, One Stop, Safeway, Tesco, Unilever and Woolworths. Galleria provides consumer focused solutions for clustering, automated assortment and space optimization supported by detailed analytics and reporting tools designed to meet the needs of retailers and suppliers.

Imperial Tobacco Case Study

Working in collaboration with Galleria’s Professional Services team to implement Galleria’s Behavioural Clustering Software gave Imperial Tobacco the ability to efficiency create store and category level clusters based upon consumer buying behaviour, identifying like-stores and providing fast, actionable insights tailored in-line with the strategy and objectives of each retailer.

Eliminating the need for weeks’ worth of manual data analysis and complex spreadsheets, Galleria’s Behavioural Clustering solution provides Imperial Tobacco with the ability to automate performance based analysis for each retailers store estate and across all channels through rapidly evaluating all available product attributes and with the creation of a consumer decision tree to identify key variation and efficiently generate consumer focused store clusters.

Behavioural Cluster Planner provided the perfect fit by giving:

  • A more granular category understanding, providing valuable insights for key multiple accounts as well as the independent store estate
  • An efficient approach to clustering, removing the need for manual spread-sheet analysis
  • A method to combine performance analysis with demographic and geographic overlays to give a true customer understanding
  • A credible and fact based approach offering transparency to retail partners with easy to understand calculations
  • The flexibility to combine bottom-up performance with top-down constraints for customer focused clusters which remain in-line with Imperial Tobacco’s individual retail partners strategies
  • A fast implementation; taking just 4 days to get up and running
Offering the right products at the right time and in the right quantities to customers is the goal of suppliers and retailers alike” said Elson, “Galleria’s solution supports us by providing a collaborative tool to offer our retailers targeted clusters and actionable insights in a very short period of time.Dean Elson, Distribution and Availability Executive, Imperial Tobacco

Seeing the benefit...

Below are just a few examples of Imperial Tobacco’s use of Behavioural Cluster Planner to gain a more granular category understanding to work more collaboratively supporting retail partners:

Competitor Insight

The solution is utilised to gain a valuable insight into the competitor clustering model and was able to quickly highlight a missed cluster opportunity where there were clear differences in customer purchasing habits in comparison to all other clusters. Imperial Tobacco were able to clearly illustrate this to the key multiple account and this new cluster was recognised and added to the existing clustering solution.

Without Galleria’s Behavioural Clustering Solution we would have missed this key opportunity, losing value sales to this account.Julian Francis, Merchandising Executive, Imperial Tobacco


Targeted Assortment and Space

Imperial Tobacco Case Study

The solution is utilised in collaboration with an existing key multiple account where Imperial Tobacco had a long history of producing over 800 individual store planograms. The existing model was time consuming and labour intensive when it came to planogram creation and maintenance and what’s more, the retailer themselves were struggling with the required resourcing levels to cope with on-going range and planogram maintenance.

Galleria’s Behavioural Clustering Solution was utilised to gain a better category understanding and to illustrate the similarities in customer purchasing patterns with targeted store groupings. The account was so impressed with the findings that they progressed with a trial of one cluster driving better targeted assortments and planograms. This gave such successful results that the cluster solution was implemented across all stores and the planogram volume was reduced from 800+ down to 75. Overall feedback from this project see’s that not only has the retailer’s resource decreased substantially but sales have remained flat so this simplification has reduced labour cost with no impact to sales.


Improved Operational Efficiency

Imperial Tobacco were approached by a large retailer to reduce their current cluster volumes in order to streamline the category management process and to make implementation more sustainable. Using Behavioural Cluster Planner Imperial Tobacco were able to reduce the overall category cluster count from 12 clusters to 6. This resulted in a much more manageable category to maintain, simplifying the overall planogram count and achieving the retailer’s objective for a more sustainable yet targeted approach.


Improved Customer Understanding

With thousands of Independent Stores throughout the UK, Imperial Tobacco recognised that improving category understanding and becoming more customer focused with clustering was a key priority to their retailers’ development. Using Behavioural Clustering, Imperial Tobacco were able to cluster the entire independent store estate, building cluster profiles and gaining actionable insights in just a couple of days. 28 distinct clusters were identified, showing clear variation in customer purchasing patterns enabling Imperial Tobacco to tailor assortment and planogram recommendations in-line with demand and arming field sales rep’s with valuable and credible customer insight for improved partnerships.

The Future

As for the future, Imperial Tobacco continue to leverage the benefit of improved customer insight with targeted clusters and better credibility with retailers by offering targeted category management advice in-line with customer demand.

About Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco Logo

Imperial Tobacco Limited is the largest tobacco manufacturer in the United Kingdom currently employing over 500 staff, headquartered in Bristol with a manufacturing base in Nottingham, England. Our product portfolio includes leading tobacco brands Lambert & Butler, JPS, Player’s, Golden Virginia and Gold Leaf.

Imperial Tobacco Limited is part of Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, a multinational tobacco company with international strength in cigarettes and world leadership in fine cut tobacco, premium cigars, rolling papers and tubes. The Group currently has 46 manufacturing sites and around 36,000 employees and operates in over 160 markets.

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