Data Equals Power—for You & Your Brand

Apr 10, 2019

With more than 1,000 IGA stores in the U.S., 6,000 globally, and nearly 100 years of heritage behind the IGA brand, you’d think that IGA’s position as a key player in the grocery industry big leagues would be more than firmly established by now, right?

Turns out, that’s not exactly the case. “The power of independents—and specifically IGA—is misrepresented and misunderstood by nearly everyone in the industry,” IGA CEO John Ross says.

According to Ross, it all comes down to one pretty specific reason: data. With a national chain, data collection is easy. Each store is on the same POS system, each manager is dialed with a similar operating plan, and all the data about a store is available to a chain’s marketing teams and CFO in real time, giving them everything they need to show how their brand stacks up.

That’s all different when you’re dealing with a group of independent stores with different POS systems, different assortments, and different ideas about sharing their insider information, particularly as it relates to financials and sales.

Why data matters

Historically, a lack of store-level data has meant that IGA has no way to show its partners and vendors just how powerful the brand actually is. The good news is that several years of national offers and sales data collection are making a difference, and IGA partners and vendors are taking notice.

“For the first time we have an aggregated voice,” Ross says. “Brands who didn’t even have us on their radar are learning we’re in their top 20 or 30 clients, and consensus is ‘Hey, IGA’s a lot cooler than we thought.’”

IGA’s budding reputation has potential to impact not just the brand overall, but IGA retailers as individuals, as well. “For a long time IGA retailers feared that working more closely together would mean loss of individuality. Now we’re realizing when we represent our brand with one voice, our services are less expensive; our manufacturing offers are more impactful; shoppers, competitors, and even legislators see us in a different light. And ultimately, that means IGA retailers have more time, money, and energy to offer the distinctive local experience that make them stand out as unique,” Ross says. 

Making your voice heard

So how do you as an IGA retailer make sure your store-level insights are counted toward IGA’s overall success? Engaging in programs like the IGA National Digital Ad and the IGA Digital Marketing Platform (more coming your way soon!) is essential, but there’s one other important element you may be missing—participating in the annual Independent Grocers Financial Survey.

A collaborative effort between FMS Solutions and NGA, the Independent Grocers Financial Survey provides a thorough analysis on the state of the independent grocery industry. The anonymous survey covers industry-wide trends in key issues such as profitability, consumer attitudes and influences, and cost pressures. Results are broken down by department and average weekly sales volume to help you better benchmark your grocery operation against other independents, and new this year, the survey has IGA-specific questions that will help us better benchmark where we stand as a brand.

“Independents have always faced stiff competition,” says Robert Graybill, president and CEO of FMS, “but year after year our study has shown that independents are able to adapt and win by embracing their strengths. Getting more IGA retailers involved in this study will get us a more accurate glimpse into the innovation and ingenuity that is helping independent retailers succeed.”

Ross agrees, stressing that this is just the beginning of what he hopes will be an ongoing partnership with FMS that will help IGA retailers synthesize the benchmarking insights. “FMS is a respected voice in the world of independent retailing, and we look forward to engaging more with them in the future—through this survey, their continued work with the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, and new initiatives that deliver our retailers actionable ideas to build their businesses.”

How to participate

The deadline to complete the questionnaire is April 30, 2019. Please note, if you are an FMS client, you may choose to have FMS pull that data they have on file to complete the survey’s financial information.

See below to complete the survey online.

Contact Mariie Vélez at, (954) 488-3543, with any survey-related questions.

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