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Steve, (Small Business) Brand Product Manager: tracking popular trends

Indix, Brand Category Manager

Steve, Brand Category Manager working at a mid-size manufacturing company making upscale women clothing

At Indix, we have been speaking with brand managers, pricing analysts, category managers, and retail merchandisers (broadly referred to as product managers) to create a better and more effective Big Data product intelligence platform for them.

Naturally, different product managers have different ways of going about managing and marketing their product, but the combination of insight – such as accurate product related information, real-time knowledge of the competition, accurate historical metrics – and intuition – such as owning your product, understanding your customer, and following your gut – creates product magic in the right hands.

Product managers in multiple fields have spoken with us about their working style. Through a series of blog posts we have been examining their pain points and challenges through fictional characters; each post features a composite made up of the people we spoke with and researched. Today, we are introducing Steve, a Brand Product Manager working at a midsize manufacturing company making upscale women clothing. Steve is also juggling the tasks of many other positions combined: category manager, marketing manager, product line manager, and brand marketer.

Steve relies on his well-honed intuition in order to move each line of product. The feedback came to us from a number of sources but we’ve created this persona because product managers at midsize brands often don’t have access to new tools, and rely on a combination of Internet search, accumulated knowledge, and gut instinct when managing and marketing their products. Midsize companies have smaller budgets and can lack access to extensive data on the competition. They rely on experience when planning.

Here Steve discusses his pain points and challenges in his own words:

“I need to know what’s going to be popular and what’s going to sell in upscale casual basics at least two seasons ahead of time. We sell t-shirts, tanks, and knitwear to boutiques across the country, and I have to forecast trends early and be accurate. In fashion, historical metrics can only tell you so much. When I lack data, I get creative.

You know all those glossy ads at the front of the magazine that you probably skip over? They are my crystal ball showing me the future. In terms of my business: those ads are the reason I knew pastels were in while jewel tones were fading fast. I didn’t know what my direct competitors were selling but Celine was all dusky rose and no fire engine red, so what I lacked in hard evidence I made up for with intuition and creative sources.

I’d love to know with certainty that larger retailers in the northeast are seeing light grey and mint green taking over the formerly ubiquitous black, but besides some online research I’m making moves based on what I see in the real world.”

This example is unique for a clothing retailer, but the idea is not. When data is lacking, product managers find ways of seeing and planning the future of their businesses. As the brand grows so too will product lines and distribution channels, and the responsibilities of a PM juggling multiple positions grow at a pace that can quickly overwhelm.

At Indix, we provide product assortment, product availability (e.g. out of stock situations), price trends, promotions, insights on channels and competition, and more in real-time. We use big data analytics and visualization to deliver actionable insights.

Of course, product managers will always have their gut instincts, but with help from Indix, they can find opportunities quicker, identify new trends just as they emerge and make their jobs just that much easier.

If you are a Brand Product Manager at a small or a mid-size brand/manufacturer/retailer, we would love to hear from you. Please leave your feedback via comments.

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