Hot Zones: A new way to boost your brand performance and sales in the on-trade

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At SharpGrid, we are always looking for new ways to help our clients succeed in the on-trade channel. One of the latest concepts we have developed is outlet (POS) targeting through “Hot Zones”. It enables FMCGs to pinpoint their precious resources to high brand-building and category-potential areas across Europe.

What is a Hot Zone?

There are two ways to describe and define a Hot Zone: 

  • In plain words, it is an area where many (typically younger) people spend their time, have fun, eat and drink and spend their money in on-trade outlets such as bars, pubs, restaurants and others.
  • In precise technical terms, it is an area with an on-trade outlet density above 120 outlets per km2.

Our research has shown that these zones are attractive for several reasons:

  • Outlets in Hot Zones benefit from disproportionately high share of people traffic as well as food & beverage revenues. A Hot Zone outlet will generate more exposure and revenues for your brands. In fact 2.2x more revenues to be exact, using our F&B revenue rank indicator in SharpGrid Outlet Census 
  • Outlets in Hot Zones generate significantly highermarketing buzz”. Using our Consumer Engagement Score indicator in SharpGrid Outlet Census, we can determine that a Hot Zones outlet generates 3,5x higher consumer engagement than market average
  • Due to high outlet density, outlets in Hot Zones exhibit lower average cost-to-serve (sales and logistics costs)


To put it plainly, a Hot Zone is an ideal place for brand building, product showcasing and revenue generation at below average route-to-market costs!


A brief look at the data in the Polish on-trade

Hot Zones are a part of the SharpGrid Market Meter live reporting tool. Using Market Meter, we can pinpoint brands that are successfully on Hot Zones and enjoying a relatively stronger position / higher numeric distribution there.

Why is that important? Without transparency about Hot Zones, you might get the wrong perception of your performance. For example, you might be happy about having a high numeric distribution and customer count in the whole market. 

However, suppose your competitors overtake you in the Hot Zones. In that case, it will gradually start eating away at your brands' or products' overall popularity, perception, new consumer recruitment and could cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Let’s look at some specific examples from the Polish on-trade spirits market.


Amongst Vodka brands, Belvedere (32% in Hot Zones vs. 12% overall) or Soplica (28% vs. 18%) are gaining strong advantage in Hot Zones while for example Finlandia (46% in Hot Zones vs 58% overall) is significantly underperforming there.
Amongst Whiskey brands, Jameson (59% in Hot Zones vs 29% overall) or Tullamore (29% vs. 13%) are strongly winning while Ballantines (49% vs. 59%) is underperforming.


With the Market Meter, our clients can assess their and competitor brands and clearly see what advantage they are gaining in brand performance, visibility, and popularity thanks to being present in Hot Zones.


Locating the “hottest” areas

But where exactly are all these Hot Zones located? Most of them are concentrated in city centers, seasonal spots and “busy” areas around  major points of interest. Surprisingly, many could be also found in very sparsely populated areas that attract people / traffic. The smallest town with a Hot Zone we identified in Poland had a population of just 2,000.

An interactive map with Hot Zones along Polish northern coast.


Would you have thought of that? Do you think your resources and investments should be focused on Hot Zones outlets?

As you can see, there are opportunities everywhere. You just have to know where to look for them. If you’d like to learn more about Hot Zones in Spain, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic or Slovakia or if you are interested in discussing how the Hot Zones approach could benefit your business, do not hesitate to contact us.


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