Telling Data’s Story With Graphics

Experiments with graphic presentation of data are making it easier for sales people to see how they’re performing right in the field, according to Joseph D. Bruhin, chief information officer of Constellation Brands.

U.S. consumers might not recognize the name Constellation Brands, but if they drink beer, wine, or liquor, they have probably consumed at least one of the brands it markets and distributes: Corona Extra, Modelo Especial, Clos du Bois, Robert Mondavi, and SVEDKA Vodka are among the company’s more popular offerings. Constellation is a publicly traded S&P 500® Index and Fortune 1000® company, with 2015 net sales of approximately $6 billion and 7,600 employees. It is headquartered in Victor, New York, with operations in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Italy, and Mexico.

One of Constellation’s marketing goals has been to reach customers where they live. The company’s 2015 annual report notes that, “Mobile marketing is helping to build awareness — and loyalty — for our wine and spirits brands through targeted emails, online sweepstakes and coupons, shopping and food-pairing apps, dedicated social media pages, contests, and more.”

But making sense of the data generated by those kinds of marketing and sales efforts is a particular challenge, and one that is top of mind for Joseph D. Bruhin, Constellation’s senior vice president and chief information officer. Bruhin’s role includes developing new tools for sales people to use in the field and new measurements for understanding how products are performing at retail. He has been particularly focused on making data easy to analyze and understand.

In a conversation with Sam Ransbotham, associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and the MIT Sloan Management Review guest editor for the Data and Analytics Big Idea Initiative, Bruhin details the particular challenges faced by companies in the beverage alcohol business and the role that graphics are playing in helping employees more easily track sales against metrics.

Can you give us an overview of Constellation Brands’ approach to analytics?

As anyone in analytics can tell you, obtaining meaningful measurements is not always easy. Our company has a diverse portfolio of more than 100 beer, wine, and spirits brands. They cross many categories and price points. And within the U.S. beverage alcohol industry, a three-tier system of distribution has been established that brands must follow, making data tracking even more difficult.

Tier 1: Constellation makes a product and sells it to distributors. Tier 2: Distributors sell the product to retailers. Tier 3: Retailers sell the product to consumers.

3 Comments On: Telling Data’s Story With Graphics

  • payne_eric | September 4, 2015

    For an article about using graphics, one would think you would show some visual examples. Also, when MIT uses the word ‘experiment’, I’m expecting a scientific method not a marketer’s ‘let’s try something and roughly guess that it’s working.’

  • john Bangs | November 26, 2015

    Got to agree with Eric. I was expecting to see some fascinating and insightful graphics and maybe some ways of representing data that I was unaware of ….

  • MinhChau Tran | October 18, 2016

    Article is about data with graph, but i don’t see any graph, could you please upload some examples. Thanks

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