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February 16, 2022



How the digital revolution changed the on-trade market research and why you should care

Martin Müller

Content Lead

This article is also available in other languages

The on-trade channel is different than it used to be. With the tsunami of ever-growing amounts of digital data, new use cases for FMCG and other companies emerged and the old ways of handling sales, marketing or strategy-making are slowly but surely becoming obsolete. To put it plainly, things that weren't possible just a few years ago are a reality today. And there is value to be captured by brands and on-trade vendors.

Millions of digital footprints

These days, every on-trade outlet or a point of sale leaves behind a digital footprint with a plethora of digital data from various sources. Outlet operators use many software platforms (that are constantly growing in number) for transactions, orders, reservations, outlet operations and other parts of their business. They also set up websites (with digital menus), social media profiles and upload information to government sources, apps like Google Maps or to delivery services and on-trade platforms.

But it's not just the outlets and points of sale themselves who generate this data. Their customers use social media, digital maps, delivery services or travel portals to leave reviews, comments or ratings. Sometimes they just check-in or "like" a place. In any case, this customer engagement brings about another insightful trove of on-trade data. 

Millions of data points generating huge data sets. Every day, every second. Tough to access and use for business without the right technology and tools, but definitely possible. 

FREE ON-TRADE DATA: Discover the on-trade market position of your brands and your competitors completely free of charge

Hacking the on-trade channel

Instead of tracking dozens of disconnected data streams, dealing with inconsistencies, duplicities and incomplete coverage, the optimal solution is to have everything in one place. Ideally, on one data platform that can process vast quantities of information, make it easy to use and give it real business value usable for:

  • Sales managers and field operators
  • Marketing and market research professionals
  • Business intelligence and CRM experts

The SharpGrid platform is currently in a late stage of development and we will soon announce its launch.

So how do we do it? We collect millions of rich data points about individual outlets by crawling dozens of global and local sources across the digital landscape and partnering up with other on-trade software & solution vendors.

Our technology's core is an advanced data processing system called "Premise Machine", which accurately links, cross-references, and quality checks each record. As a second step, our analytics & post-processing module (using a combination of advanced analytics, expert and supervised machine learning approaches) transforms troves of data about each outlet into standardized outputs, indicators and reports. They are easy to understand, navigate, and integrate to internal client BIs and CRMs, and they massively reduce the complexity and time that would be otherwise needed to interpret the data.

READ MORE: 2 major hidden costs of the on-trade channel you should know about. And how to stop them from eating away at your profits

New data-driven use cases for the on-trade channel

With these new insights at hand, a new world of possibilities opens up for decision-makers, managers and field operators to manage the channel more effectively:

  • Precise targeting of specific outlets (POSs) based on 40+ different indicators like revenue potential, seasonality, brand penetration, core consumer occasion or local market rank
  • Ramping-up efficiency of their employees. With automatic data collection and processing, sales reps have their hands free to pursue higher value-added activities or better prepare for negotiations to close more deals.
  • Market analysis based on accurate, complete and granular data instead of extrapolated analysis from ad-hoc surveys, panels or small sample research
  • Measuring and tracking performance and market developments at the level of small performance cells like city, country, custom region, or various sub-channels like bars or active nightclubs

On top of that, having more transparency can lead to new insights about how the market works. Such as discovering "Hot Zones", areas with high consumption and brand-building potential, or accurately predicting where new outlets will open, thus improving chances of successful commercial negotiations. And this is just a start. We discover new market insights with every update of our products.

As a result, it is now it is now possible to achieve retail-level transparency in the on-trade channel.

 If you'd like to know more about new opportunities from on-trade digitization or how SharpGrid can help your business, continue reading to find out about our 2 BI tools. Or simply get in touch with us, check out success stories of our clients or follow us on LinkedIn.

On-trade channel BI Tools

An advanced market reporting and analysis tool with numeric and weighted distribution, pricing or menu dominance broken down into individual brands and products updated quarterly, allowing clients to see their and their competitors' performance and perfect their business strategies and tactics


A digital dossier on every on-trade outlet (be it a restaurant, hotel, school canteen or anything else) that currently exists on the market with 40+ indicators giving sales and other teams deep insight into the outlet. With that information at hand, sales managers can effectively plan their teams' time and build outlet portfolios for acquisition. In addition, team members can better prepare for negotiations and are spared manual data collection and dependence on outdated information.

The power of data synergy

When used in combination, Market Meter and Outlet Census allow our clients to truly harness the power of new on-trade insights and data-driven decision making. Starting with granular performance measurement and opportunity identification and finishing with targeting individual outlets with tailored commercial actions. 

Outlet Census in the form of a digital map with implemented Hot Zones feature.

See for yourself how Unilever boosted their customer acquisition by over 300 % and Heineken totally transformed their sales model. All with the help of our products.

Apart from these, we can use our data to perform any kind of analysis on the level of the channel, segment, brand, product, price, distribution and many more. You can find many inspiring examples on the SharpGrid blog or discover more ways to use our data at the SharpGrid services section

Get in touch with one of our regional representatives to learn more about how SharpGrid can help your business grow. We have solutions for all your on-trade needs.

SharpGrid is a data & tech company reinventing market research in the on-trade channel. The on-trade channel consists of POSs (point of sale) where food & beverage is bought and consumed, and is often also called HoReCa, on-premise, food service, out-of-home, gastro or immediate consumption (IC) channel, hospitality, on-license.


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