Business challenge

This mid-size alcohol business competes with massive beverage firms that possess multi-million-dollar marketing budgets and huge distribution operations. How can it win market share?


The company uses IBM Analytics to explore third-party data on all alcohol sales nationwide, serving up rich insight into regional preferences and changing consumer tastes.



the company stock the right bottles in the right stores to capture sales


fresh insight into evolving consumer tastes and regional preferences


suppliers to assess and boost the effectiveness of their marketing spend

Business challenge story

Taking on the big guys

The alcohol industry is dominated by a handful of global players that boast multi-million-dollar marketing budgets. Extensive distribution operations make it easy for these commercial giants to ensure sure their beverages are stocked at every store, bar and pub. For smaller companies that want a slice of the action, this market is a tough one to crack.

Ready to take on the challenge, one mid-size alcohol company decided to take a fresh approach to winning market share in this competitive industry. With limited resources, the company couldn’t afford to have stock sitting unsold for an extended period. It realized that insight into local tastes would help it get products flying off the shelves—but how could it accurately identify consumer preferences?

With IBM Analytics, we can continuously improve and refine the ways we report on our business, driving greater insight and commercial success.

Spokesperson, a wine and spirits company

Transformation story

Serving up full-bodied insight

In some countries, government liquor boards exercise tight control over the market. They collect granular data on alcohol sales across all brands, channels and types of beverages, and make it readily available. By using IBM® Cognos® Analytics to explore that data, this mid-size company can go far beyond scrutinizing its own performance, and instead investigate broader trends at the category or regional level.

A spokesperson for the company explains: “We are very fortunate to have detailed data on all sales across the market, and we can slice and dice it to study the figures in detail. We generate reports on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to keep an eye on what’s happening in the market, and help us spot any new trends early on. What’s more, technical people and business users from across our organization work together to create relevant scorecards and dashboards in Cognos Analytics, so that people in each area of the company have the right information at their fingertips to make smart decisions.

“One of the big benefits of using Cognos is being able to standardize the delivery of information across our organization. Everyone has access to a single version of the truth, and all reports are created in the same format and using the same metrics, so our reports are consistent and accurate.”

Results story

Brewing up success

By analyzing rich data from the liquor boards, this mid-size company is distilling potent insight into the alcohol market and cooking up a winning recipe for commercial success.

“We can see which varieties of wine are currently most popular with consumers, and start stocking more of them to capitalize on the sales opportunity,” continues the spokesperson. “In addition, we can see how our prices compare to those of our competitors and build a clearer picture of where we stand in the market.

“Accurate planning is crucial in our industry, because we import wine from overseas with a lead time of four to six months. Identifying current trends doesn’t cut it; we need to be able to predict them. Today, we have a solid foundation for forecasting, so we can make sure we have the right product assortments at the right time to entice consumers and maximize sales. By giving our sales, marketing and operations teams better access to information, we can use the steady flow of goods from our overseas partners to maximum benefit.”

IBM Analytics is also helping the company build blossoming relationships with its trading partners.

“We work with wine and beer suppliers from all over the world,” adds the spokesperson. “They trust us to bring their goods to market in a way that appeals to their target audience, and we are accountable to our suppliers regarding how we represent their products. Part of that accountability is making sure that we are driving sales to hit an agreed target. For example, if our suppliers invest in advertising and promoting their goods at a festival, we need to report back to them about how effective their marketing spend was in lifting sales.”

Never resting on its laurels, the company is already looking at new ways to sharpen its analytical capabilities.

“Typically, we create reports based on the last two years of data from the liquor boards to unlock insight into recent trends, although in many cases the data goes back 20 years,” elaborates the spokesperson. “Two or three times a year, a senior executive might ask about the 10- or 15-year trend of a specific category, or want to know when we or a competitor launched a particular product. At the moment, to answer those types of enquiries, we have to go back to our archives. We can’t always run simple queries, because some information is in unstructured formats such as PDFs, and the schema of structured data may have changed. With the latest offerings from IBM Analytics, we will be able to gain rapid, accurate insight from those repositories.”

Furthermore, the company is looking to take advantage of other types of unstructured data – such as pictures of how its products are stacked on shelves at stores, or consumer sentiment data from social media. By marrying this unstructured information with sales data using IBM Analytics, the company can refine its tactics to boost revenues and market share.

The spokesperson concludes: “We have been using Cognos for more than 13 years. During that time, we have seen the solution grow and mature, backed by a clear roadmap. With IBM Analytics, we can continuously improve and refine the ways we report on our business, driving greater insight and commercial success.”

Wine and spirits company

This mid-size company sells beer, wine and spirits across the US and Canada.

Solution components

  • Cognos Analytics
  • Consumer Centric Retailing
  • Consumer Products: Digital Operations

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