Dealing with big data: how Kondor aligns brands to customers

Beatrice Lafon, CEO, Kondor Ltd

In a digital world where sales and marketing companies are swimming in data on consumer behaviours and trends, it is often those that remain the most responsive and agile that benefit quickest.

At Kondor, it is not just thriving own brands that are seeing the advantages of effectively analysing data, the company’s partners are too. Striving to be the ultimate sales and distribution partner, Kondor continues to make big strides into the international market, as well as expanding its client base back home in the UK.

CEO Dr Beatrice Lafon has made using data a huge focus in how Kondor better services its retail and brand relationships – in particular, Kondor’s ability to combine category management with consumer data to deliver a one-stop shop for its partners.

It looks like they have become extremely efficient at it.

Using data to build trust

Using big data to provide a better service is a key element of Kondor’s business model. The south coast company keeps ahead of the game by analysing the data on consumer behaviours and trends, and aligning it with a brand’s DNA.

This makes for a tailored service with its roots in big consumer data. With the unique ability to look at information on more than 8,500 stores in the UK alone, Kondor can analyse a whole host of consumer and market patterns. With so much data at its fingertips, it becomes less a guessing game and more an expert judgement on predicting future trends and consumer intent.

Providing value for partners

This data also helps Kondor cut costs for partners, one of the big stepping stones to brand success. The more data available, the more Kondor can reduce the “testing of the water”, and deliver a bespoke category-managed solution it knows will work.

Whereas other distributors may only have data on just one range of products, Kondor has access to huge amounts of consumer data in myriad markets. This has helped it consistently provide value to its partners, as well as to consumers through its own brands of consumer electronics.

Whether it is online impressions, clicks, sales figures, consumer behaviours, or market trends, Kondor is clearly making the most of one of the biggest resources ever known.

Visit Kondor to see more of the innovative services they provide to partners.

Video Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to Business Reporters' best of British business campaign. I'm Alastair Greener. And today, I'm talking to Beatrice Lafon from Kondor.

Good morning.

Good morning, Alister.

We hear this term "brand channel partner relationship." Perhaps you could explain exactly what that is.

There's a spectrum I guess in that relationship. At one level, you would call the distributor the one first level of that relationship, which is where you would be a logistic partner for a brand, allowing them to distribute their product to a retail partner. The other end of the spectrum would be more of a service provider where beyond that logistic aspects you would offer all the additional services to your brand or to your retailer to make the relationship even more profitable for all of the parties.

And to make it more profitable, what would the ideal relationship look like?

An ideal relationship is one that is based on trust. So how do you get to a position of trust? Really two key words there-- understanding and communication. Understanding of the brand-- it's DNA, what the owners want to achieve in a given market of a particular time scale, and communications so that at all times you are totally aligned between what the brand owners want to do and what you are proposing to them to achieve the objectives that you've agreed together. So these are the two key words to get to that point.

And one of the key aspects to making sure the alignment is true beyond that communication is the understanding of the local market. And what I've seen that Kondor does is bring to market here in the UK brands that exist in other markets. So that understanding of how you take the DNA of that brand into the local market is just critical to make a success of it.

What do you mean by the "DNA of a brand"?

So the DNA of a brand would be the essence of that bran-- what does it stand for, what does he mean, which customer is it aiming at, what role does it play in people's life.

So how can you take a brand and keep it localised but also keep its identity? How can that work?

So again, it's about understanding that DNA, which you get through of course observation and study, conversation with the brand owners, understanding of your local market, and understanding, therefore, how can you keep all the main elements of that brand and apply it locally. So to give you an example, many of the brands that we would represent are audio brands. And say it's an American run that you're working with. It might be that in the American scene the campaigns might be around music festivals that take place in the USA. It would not be appropriate to use that example here in the UK market because the UK audience might not know about Coachella let's say, which is one of the festivals in the US. However, you could keep the same idea, the same kind of events applied to the UK as an example by using it in a UK music festival as an example.

Tell me more about Kondor-- where do you fit into all of this?

We are kind of the linchpin in between the brand owners like the Samson and the Sony of this world and then the retailers. Kondor as a distributor is as a service provider effectively, linking in over 100 brands to over 250 retail accounts here in the UK. Although we also operate across Europe as well.

So to give you an idea, we service about 8,500 shops here in the UK and about 4,000 shops across Europe. But the UK is 88% of our sales. So historically, this has been our focus.

There might be people who say you know what? There's other people out there who would claim to do the same as you. They would claim to be the linchpin between the brands and the distributors. So what is it about Kondor that makes you unique?

What is special about Kondor is the range of services that we offer. The first one we call category management, and that is really when we operate as the outsourced buying department for the retailer as well as the outsourced salesforce or marketing department for the brand. What that means in reality is then we would create a whole assortment for a given retailer. Say, if it's an audio bit, all the products that you would want on that audio space.

And we would tier the ranges of price points in terms of new mix of brands. We would also put together a strategy around price, around promotions. In some instances we also own the stock in the retailer and do the replenishment, the allocation of stock all the way into the branches of those retailers. And what we also offer is a total lifecycle management of the product for the retailer and/or for the brand. So that you know at the end of a given period we could take the stock back and then dispose of the stock or create a second life for the product. So category management is probably the biggest service that we offer.

One of the reasons why we're good at that is because we use data and market insight to do that. And we fortunate to have access to a lot of information about what our partners are selling in the stores, and a given partner would only know about their given range. So even a big partner like a Dixons or a Tesco might have a range of 200 SKUs. We have data for 8,000 stores, 5,000 SKUs. And from that, we have more information about where the trends are, where the patterns are. And that allows us to provide quality advice to our partner.

So category management, data analytics makes us unique. We're are very strong in terms of online-- 40% of our sales are online. So true expertise on how to work with all the marketplaces not just in the UK but also overseas. We are also often the e-commerce partner to many of our brands. So if you think of Google for instance, who we started to partner with just last year-- if you look at the Google e-shop on eBay-- we designed that website for them. We created it. We manage it. And we fulfil it to the consumer, and we also do the customer service for the end consumer.

As a consumer, if you buy from Google on eBay, you have no idea that Kondor exists when actually we do with all this. So that's another service that we offer, and we are particularly stronger on online. Our focus on anything to do with mobile devices, accessories, and audio-- real strength in that category. That is what makes Kondor unique. Not one service in isolation but the fact that you really have in Kondor a one-stop shop.

I should mention the marketing capability we also have. We have 19 people in-house, and we can offer our partners any aspect of marketing they might want. Something simple as the point of sale to put in stores, all the way to a marketing campaign for a brand wanting to launch in the UK and anything in between. So Kondor is a one-stop shop for a brand and for a retailer in our chosen categories.

Lets look at the distributors for a second because it's a rapidly changing environment. There's so much going on. What do you think are the biggest challenges that they're going to face over the 5 five to 10 years?

I think if you look at the next five years, the big challenge is in our industry always around technology. The pace of technology is always accelerating. The next big wave on the horizon is smart technology. So our business grew on the back of mobile phones and smartphones over the last 20 years. We've think the next big wave is around smart technology, around smart home, smart transports in particular, and then smart health. And these are three areas that certainly we are positioning ourselves to have the expertise to advise our partner in that world, so technology change is a big thing.

The second challenge as I think it's very well publicised-- people do not change phone or mobile device as often as they used to. They consume their media in different ways to the way they did it before. So these changing behaviours of the consumer absolutely impact the way we think of our consumers and how to interact with them.

The last big change is that because of the high cost and margin pressure that all of our partners are always finding, retailers are looking to cut costs more and more. And brands, of course, are looking to also cut costs. So we have to find a way as a chain to be as efficient as we can be as a trio, if you want, of partners to give the consumer the very best possible solution in the most possible cost efficient manner.

And that's really the key, isn't it, to the successful relationship between a brand, and the distributors, and the retailers? And you've given us a great insight into how that actually works and some of the trends that we're going to be seeing over the next few years. Beatrice Lafon from Condor, thank you very much indeed.

Thank you. Thank you for having me.


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