Starbucks uses Data to inform New Product Introduction Strategies

Big data helps retailers make better decisions. With the right data operation in place, any customer purchase or point-of-contact can become a useful piece of information that determines product strategies and identifies areas of improvement. Purchasing data, in particular, makes it easy to identify items or trends that are already popular with customers, guiding retailers towards offering customers products that they’re already interested in.

Here’s a look at a few retail companies that are using purchasing data to curate their own collections of best-selling products:

1. Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola Company’s Freestyle soda fountain dispenses beverages in dozens of different flavors: from Diet Coke to sparkling Dasani water. Freestyle machines also let customers customize their flavor combinations, leading to thousands of different possibilities.

Armed with data gathered from the drinks customers were pouring for themselves, Coca-Cola determined new beverage flavors that were already a hit with customers to develop new retail products. One result was Cherry Sprite, a customer favorite that led to the release of its own ready-for-retail canned beverage.

2. Rent the Runway

The popular subscription fashion service Rent the Runway allows users to rent designer clothing on a one-time or recurring basis, giving subscribers access to high-end fashion at a fraction of the traditional retail price. To improve its product selection, Rent the Runway partnered with fashion designers Derek Lam, Prabal Gurung and Jason Wu to power its exclusive Designer Collective, a capsule of outfits created with the help of extensive customer feedback.

Using data gathered from customer surveys about each clothing rental’s fit, the occasion it was used for and the number of times it was worn, Rent the Runway helped the designers determine the types of rentals that were most popular with customers to help guide new designs.

3. Starbucks

Coffee giant Starbucks has embraced purchasing data to inform its entire retail operations. Using exclusive customer data gathered through its Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, the company gains insights into popular drink orders and determines how users are choosing to customize their beverages.

After data made it clear that customers don’t always add cream to iced coffee or add sugar to iced tea, Starbucks developed and released bottled unsweetened iced coffee and K-Cups of unsweetened tea to appeal to existing customer tastes. The frequency and popularity of customer purchases also help Starbucks determine where to build new locations, decide how to optimize its menu boards based on the weather or time of day and boost customer loyalty. 

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