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Cheese and Cold-Weather Work-Wear Have More in Common Than You Think

You might think arctic work-wear and Italian cheese have nothing in common. And you’d be right. Well, mostly right. It’s only when you consider how they’re made and the companies that create them that you start to see what they share. And how it’s all about building trust.

Trust is the heart of any relationship, whether it’s between people or within a business. Any dating expert could tell you as much. Trust is ultimately about understanding, and in the realm of business, understanding the customer creates trust. And companies better understand customers by understanding data.


RefrigiWear discovered that pretty quickly. Refrigiwear is an industrial work-wear outfit that specializes in clothing and accessories for subzero environments. The company was founded back in 1954 in New York, and since moving to Dahlonega, GA, it has expanded to clothe cold workers across the US and in Europe, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. As business grew, their ability to serve their new customers got more and more difficult. They knew what their customers needed, but weren’t able to respond to demand fast enough to get an edge over their competition. They needed a way to predict exactly when customers needed their products, and build a relationship from there.

The cheese merchants at the Consorzio del Parmigiano-Reggiano had a different problem. A collective of more than 600 dairies in Reggio Emilia, Italy, they oversee the making of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Though they already had a reliable brand, they still ran the risk of being undermined by knock-offs — which could erode the trust they’d built for nearly 80 years. They needed a way to better understand their own data in order to better recognize fraudulent products.

Both of these companies had trust issues. Both solved them with the help of analytics to sift through data more effectively.

RefrigiWear turned to IBM business partner VAI to create a CRM system that tracks customer buying patterns along with product life cycles. They soon discovered that some of their work clothes were ready to be replaced after 18 months. Armed with that knowledge, they could market new products just as their customers needed replacement clothing, keeping them happy — and increasing sales by five percent.


Meanwhile, the Consorzio turned to IBM business partner Gruppo Sinapsi to create an advanced analytics solution that allowed them to meticulously analyze market data and production. This helped them speed up their reporting time from the dairies by 97 percent, giving them a clearer picture of how much of their cheese made it to market and allowing them to detect imitation brands more quickly. Now you needn't worry that your Parmigiano-Reggiano is anything less than authentic.

Building trust is good for business, whether you make cheese or keep workers warm. So check out IBM’s wide array of business analytics products to see how trust and data can go hand in hand for your business.


Infographic illustration by Tim Van den Broeck

This post is a sponsored collaboration between IBM and Studio@Gawker.

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