Danone Italy saved 3-4 months of the on-trade commercial team’s time with the Outlet Census Live

Martin Müller

Content Lead

Can you create a killer route-to-market and brand activation strategy with precise on-trade data? Danone’s example shows it can be as easy as a pie, you just need the right tools. In this case, the Outlet Census Live.

Challenge: Changing consumers’ habits

Danone is one of the biggest FMCG companies in the world and as such, it has a broad portfolio of various products being sold in over 120 countries. However, in the Italian out-of-home market, its Alpro plant-based milk brand was not reaching its fullest potential. And it required data-driven planning and execution to go effectively after this opportunity.

“Our goal is to dominate the on-trade market in Italy,” says Silvia Brisigotti, National Account Manager at Danone. “The Alpro brand is already a leader in the off-trade. It has achieved on-trade dominance in other European countries. We, therefore, see a huge potential in the Italian on-trade market as well, especially given Alpro’s superior taste.”

But consumers seem to treat the product differently in the on-trade and off-trade channels. “There is not yet a consumer habit to have breakfast with plant-based milk outside. At home, we are all flexitarians. In the on-trade - not yet,” adds Silvia.

So, how can you make Italians drink their morning coffee with plant-based milk? Some of the biggest café chains were already Danone’s direct customers. Many small, independent outlets were covered through wholesalers. Because of that, Danone’s Alpro Acceleration Team turned its attention to middle-sized café chains with a plan to introduce “Alproccino” - a plant-based cappuccino.

There was a clear need for a strong route-to-market and brand activation strategy. The first step was to find as many middle-sized café chains in Italy and gather as much business information on them as possible. And, as a second step, use this fact base to prioritize commercial activities and increase the chance of acquiring these chains as customers and even better - collaborate with them on brand activation through events, materials or recipes related to the Alpro milk. 

The Alpro team turned to Sharpgrid for support. Our task was to create a “hit list” of possible commercial targets with information on them that would allow the Alpro team to do just that.

Solution: The Outlet Census Live

We provided our support with the help of our ultimate BI tool for on-trade sales, marketing and strategy design and execution - the Outlet Census Live. In it, anyone with access can filter on-trade outlets in any given country based on various criteria and also look up every outlet’s profile with information like:

  • Outlet revenue potential
  • Segment
  • Cuisine type
  • Outlet growth
  • Price level
  • General product and services offering 
  • Opening times
  • Contact information

… and more. 

As is often the case, Danone's specific requirements led us to provide an additional indicator and information on coffee chains, which is over and above what we provide within Outlet Census Live as standard features. To accommodate Danone’s goals, we created a profile for every middle-sized café chain in Italy, using information from Outlet Census Live, to help Danone’s team: 

  • Determine the chain’s potential
  • Prioritize team activities based on said potential

The chain profile is similar to an outlet profile in Outlet Census Live, so the Alpro team could assess and compare the potential on both levels. Each chain profile also has a list of all outlets attached to it. If the responsible person from the Alpro team didn’t succeed with negotiations on the chain level, he/she could start contacting individual outlets and try his/her luck there. 

We also went beyond the café category boundaries (since the standard categorization can be misleading at times) and included places like restaurants or bakeries if they showed signs of being oriented towards coffee consumption. There are a lot of places that function as a café during the day and switch to a bar in the evening. Other places might look like a bistro or a restaurant but a lot of people go there primarily for coffee. 

The time of delivery from the “green light” was 2 weeks. It took a lot of checks and clearing to ensure the data is accurate and relevant, but in the end, it was worth it. The Alpro team can now access the data through the Outlet Census Live or an Excel file (for uploading into internal CRM etc.).

The Outcome: Execution reduced by 3-4 months

“Without you, this would be impossible,” says Silvia. “We could’ve been gathering the data ourselves for months but we wouldn’t achieve this kind of a result. By my estimate, your data shortened our execution by 3-4 months. Now we have what we need to build a strong strategy. And it was very easy since the Outlet Census Live is very user-friendly.”

You can see the chain and outlet profiles for yourself in the screenshots below. 

With this tool at hand, the Alpro Acceleration Team can start their way to dominating the Italian on-trade café outlet category and changing the habits of Italian consumers. Who knows? Maybe Italy will be full of “on-trade flexitarians” soon.

We will update this case study with business results once they’re available.


Chain profile example

Outlet profile example


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