Is GFK data accurate? According to several vendors, large retailers like JB Hi Fi and senior marketing managers, the answer is an emphatic “no”? One TV vendor described the latest TV sales data for January as “pure GFK fiction”.Garry Lamb the Managing Director of GFK Australia claims that the data collected and analysed by GFK is an “accurate estimation” because of GFK’s “mathematical” and “analysis” skills which are used to guess what some retailers are selling in Australia.
Lamb admits that in the consumer electronics market, his company does not have access to data from JB Hi Fi, despite JB Hi Fi having over 30% share of the overall consumer electronics market and over 40% share in several categories tracked by GFK with other retailers.
Instead the European company, who charge vendors and distributors millions, for their sales data, use their own analysis skills, to “estimate” what JB Hi Fi and retailers like Retravision WA who don’t give GFK access to their sales data, sell.
Earlier this week ChannelNews published a story about TV sales in January. The numbers we published had been supplied to a major vendor as part of an overall GFK report on the volume of TV sales in Australia in January 2011.
The data revealed sales as per the brands listed.
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However brands like Soniq who exclusively sell via JB Hi Fi claim the data issued by GFK is not accurate.
Song Su, General Manager of Soniq in Australia said: “Based on our sales, in January, we should have been in fifth spot on the GFK estimation of TV sales in Australia. The GFK data is not an accurate interpretation of sales in the Australian market,” he said.
“We sell exclusively through JB Hi Fi and our sales for January, which can be verified by JB Hi Fi, reflect that we did significantly better than several of the brands listed by GFK including several other Chinese brands that are sold by other retailers,” He added.
The CEO of another Chinese brand not identified by GFK said: “We are dumped into ‘others’ despite strong sales in Australia. The GFK data is pure fiction, which for the price they are trying to charge should be a lot more accurate”.
Mark Leathan, the former Marketing Manager of Samsung’s consumer electronics division and now Marketing Director of Caltex, said: “GFK data is not accurate nor is it an accurate estimation of what is being sold in the market. When you don’t have access to large slabs of data such as JB Hi Fi sales, you cannot accurately estimate sales, as the JB Hi Fi of 18 months ago, when GFK lost access to their data, has changed. They sell different brands and have different go to market methods”.
A former senior LG Product marketing manager, who now works for a competing brand, said: “The industry knows that the GFK data is not accurate, but it is all we have in Australia. GFK has a monopoly on collecting sales data and while it does give buyers an estimation of sales, it is nowhere near an accurate estimation. One only has to look at customs data for goods imported into Australia, to see how many brands GFK does not count”.
Defending GFK and the omission of data such as Soniq TV sales, Lamb said: “Our numbers are not an accurate reflection of what has been sold via retailers. It is an estimate, based on our mathematical skills, the date we collect and our analysis ability, which is based on knowledge of sales data collected across 120 Countries, allows us to estimate what JB Hi Fi and other retailers have sold”.
“We are not collecting data in JB Hi Fi stores, but that does not mean the data we deliver to vendors and retailers is not an accurate estimation,” Lamb said.
When it was put to Lamb that sales of house brands and brands like Soniq were not being accurately reflected in GFK data, he said “We do not count or estimate sales of house brands. There are at least a half dozen ways that we analyse data to get an accurate estimation”.
When asked whether Sony was actually #1 as reflected in the GFK TV sales data issued to retailers, Lamb said “We never talk about individual brands.
What GFK is not able to answer is whether house brands, which several retailers claim are selling through in large volume spanning iPod attach, TV and in the notebook market are having an impact on branded sales.
JB Hi Fi Marketing Director Scott Browning claims that JB Hi Fi will not lift the ban on GFK.
Last year he said that doing business with GFK was “high risk”.
Browning said at the time: “The information we have is confidential and while we do not mind sharing it with suppliers, we do not want to share it with GFK. You could say that we are moving to the dark side and that suits us because the Australian market is small and we are growing.
“Last year we grew 30 per cent and we do not want tier 2 or 3 competitors getting access to what we see as valuable information. It’s high risk dealing with GFK. We are very competitive and it is hard to justify doing business with them,” he said.
Last year Bill Crichton, the Managing Director of Sanyo, complained that his sales data was being dumped into “other” by GFK despite the fact that he sold over 170,000 TVs in 2009. Following our story and discussions between GFK and Sanyo the Japanese company’s data is now being counted with the latest GFK report putting Sanyo in fourth spot behind LG.
At the time Crichton said: “GFK data is expensive data, up to $1 million dollars for big brand vendors. In the TV market we have between 6 and 8% of around 2.4 million flat panel TVs, yet we are being counted as others. There are also several retailers whose sales are not being monitored by GFK, so their data has to be plain wrong” he said.
Do you believe that GFK data is an accurate reflection of consumer electronics and IT sales in Australia. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org