Over the past 6 years, The Honey Pot Company has experienced exponential growth in retail.
Founder Bea Dixon started the company from her kitchen in 2012, and a few short years later the company’s feminine wellness products went from being sold primarily in Whole Foods to expanding into Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and several other major retailers globally. Dixon also gained attention as one of the first Black women to raise over $1 million in venture capital.
While the growth has been amazing, there are of course growing pains that have come along with it, especially when it comes to trade spend. The Honey Pot needed a way to better analyze and act on the mountains of data behind their trade performance and spend. This case study details their specific challenges, how the Promomash + Crisp partnership delivered a complete solution, the onboarding experience, and finally, results and insights to date.
Chelsea De Loughy, Director of Sales and Rosalyn Risdon, Director of Sales Planning, faced the challenge of balancing retailer demands for increased spend, a growing influx of customer deductions, and the constant need to make decisions that benefit the company strategically and financially.
“We have been fortunate to be what we call ‘lightning in a bottle,’” said De Loughy. “Having seen tremendous growth, controlling trade spend wasn't necessarily our top priority, but we did have a need to ensure our rate of growth was sustainable, and that our promotions and the efforts we were putting into play were beneficial to the business,” she further explained. “We knew we had likely lost trade dollars that we couldn’t get back and would never be able to track...to continue to grow and thrive as a business, we needed something.”
“We knew we had likely lost trade dollars that we couldn’t get back and would never be able to track...to continue to grow and thrive as a business, we needed something.”
With no formalized process in place or systems in place to manage their largest customers, De Loughy and Risdon struggled to understand what was working and what was not in their trade spend and lacked a way to effectively compare forecasts to actual results. While they did get point of sale data from their retailers, it would come in the form of a giant excel spreadsheet, to which they would add their own shipment data. They would then have to manipulate it all, which was quite a cumbersome exercise.
“We had our own loose promotion tracker, so to speak, in spreadsheet form,” said De Loughy. “It was capturing the top line, but we weren’t able to take a magnified look deeper into it to review that trade spend in depth, especially when it comes to the deduction invoicing and coding. When those come through, it's hard to determine what goes into what bucket.”
“The promotional pieces and tracking that working and non-working trade spend was difficult because we did not have the right systems in place,” said Risdon. “I'm managing Target and Walmart – those are two big customers that take a lot of time. Budgeting funds for promotions and dealing with the amount of deductions received, not only from promotions but from OTIF charges too, was definitely a challenge.”
Promomash + Crisp
After seeing its Trade Promotion Management Platform in action and learning about how its turnkey Deduction Management service works, the team at The Honey Pot concluded that Promomash offered the best solution to solve their challenges.
In addition, thanks to the newly launched Promomash + Crisp partnership in October 2022, The Honey Pot team also gained access to the Crisp retail analytics platform. Not only would this give them access to Crisp’s powerful retailer dashboards, but it would also give them Crisp data-enabled reporting and analytics within Promomash.
The combination of Promomash + Crisp helped The Honey Pot streamline day-to-day operations and make more strategic decisions for their retail business in several ways:
- Cutting the time to interpret / analyze promotions by having all data available and easily consumable in one place, Promomash, instead of multiple systems/spreadsheets.
- Viewing retailer landscape and performance in one screen, at a macro and micro level, with Crisp’s easy-to-use dashboard.
- Tracking deductions and associating them to trade spend more effectively by outsourcing deduction management to Promomash.
- Having more effective customer conversations and negotiations by being able to quickly analyze the financial impact of promotions in Promomash, including actual lift generated.
- Identifying void and growth opportunities in retailers where presence is not as strong as it could be using retailer-specific sales data in Crisp.
- Uncovering the real story behind promotions by using Promomash + Crisp hand-in-hand to understand overall business performance and results at a granular level.
- Avoiding assumptions about baseline sales by using actual data from Crisp paired with promotional data in Promomash to capitalize on opportunities to grow ROI.
The Onboarding Process
Going in, both Risdon and De Loughy understood that in order to get the most out of the Promomash + Crisp solution, a sufficient amount of time and attention would be required from The Honey Pot team to secure all the data and assets needed for a proper setup.
“The Promomash and Crisp teams were very buttoned up and organized in communicating what we had to provide and how we should provide it,” recalls Risdon. “The work on the front end to get Promomash set up takes some time, but it’s garbage in, garbage out...so we needed to make sure that everything we were providing was accurate so that we were getting accurate data back from the dashboard.”
Risdon went on to explain that in hindsight, the process would have unfolded more quickly if all internal teams had aligned from the beginning of the project. Her recommendation for other brands going through the onboarding process is to have an internal owner for the project.
“There's a lot of information to load from a retailer perspective, but there's also a lot of information and access that needs to be given on the accounting side to really be able to get access to all those deductions and that part of it too,” said Risdon.
Additionally, the Promomash team created a new way of entering promotions for The Honey Pot team to accommodate certain complexities in their business.
“The Promomash team’s flexibility in customizing how promotions were entered for us was extremely helpful for our team, and made our onboarding process that much smoother,” recalled Risdon.
Once the sales, accounting, and demand planning teams at The Honey Pot met and aligned on what needed to be delivered to Promomash and Crisp, it was, as Risdon said, “like a light switch” in that the rest of the process moved forward quickly and smoothly. With all of the historical data from the previous year and year-to-date loaded, The Honey Pot team was ready to dig in to better understand their retail business.
"The Promomash and Crisp teams were very buttoned up and organized in communicating what we had to provide and how we should provide it."
Insights & Results
In the several months since The Honey Pot team launched Promomash + Crisp, the team has been diving into both platforms to answer a multitude of questions about their retail business that have long gone unanswered and would either prove or disprove long-held assumptions.
The first order of business for The Honey Pot team was to turn their deductions challenges over to the Promomash Deduction Management platform and team of experts to begin to properly organize, categorize and track trade spend at a more granular level. Since November of 2022, the Promomash team has been able to identify over $122,000 of deductions as invalid and has so far recovered over $56,000 of that amount for The Honey Pot.
Aside from the value of the recovered deductions, the insights the granular deduction data now provides in the Promomash platform has also started paying dividends for the team.
“It is great to be able to track deductions more closely in real time,” said Risdon. “Before, we were only looking at it on a monthly basis as a pivot table that rolled up into a summary. Now, it’s so much more aesthetically pleasing and less overwhelming to be able to go into the Promomash dashboard and look at deductions in as granular a level as we need. There are really great things our internal team is seeing from that, and we’re very happy with how everything is coming together.”
From a promotions perspective, The Honey Pot team now has one place to load all promotions, which allows them to do something they weren’t able to do in the spreadsheet they previously used: model what the financial impact would be of a range of different decisions related to the promotion.
“Once any promotion launches, we are able to go into the Promomash dashboard and look at what the actual lift was from the promotion based on what the retailer charged us back and what we spent,” Risdon said. “Analyzing that return on investment is really helpful to answer questions like, ‘do we feel these promotions are actually driving our business? Is it worth it? Should we try to stay away from these and negotiate a different type of promotion with the retailer?’ These are all things we're learning as we start to look at our data. It's just really nice to be able to look at that from a specific retailer perspective, and then overall for our total business as well.”
Risdon also points out that there has been a time savings element to having promotion and Crisp sales data in Promomash versus spreadsheets.
“Having it all in Promomash really does save on the backend, just being able to review the performance of those promotions without the extra work before even doing the analysis,” Risdon said. "I can just open up the platform, click on the retailer and promotion, and everything is already there for me. What would probably take an hour of my time pulling together I can now see in Promomash within five to 10 minutes to know exactly how that promotion performed.”
"It’s so much more aesthetically pleasing and less overwhelming to be able to go into the Promomash dashboard and look at deductions in as granular a level as we need. There are really great things our internal team is seeing from that, and we’re very happy with how everything is coming together."
From De Loughy’s perspective, having the data in Promomash has already added value to some retailer conversations.
“Some retailers often times are really trying to negotiate with you on the spend or how deep you're going in on a promotion,” said De Loughy. “Being able to have the data in Promomash to showcase and say, ‘hey, this promotion costs us more than it yielded’ arms us with a lot for that negotiation.”
With Crisp, the team has been leveraging the breadth and depth of retailer intelligence to explore growth opportunities in the channel. According to De Loughy, Crisp has become important in understanding The Honey Pot’s retail data in order to execute product launches successfully, identify growth opportunities, and letting the data “guide and facilitate” their decisions.
“With some of our retailers, especially the smaller ones, there’s the question of understanding if all items are launched and still on the shelf,” De Loughy explained. “We can also understand the consumer demographic, like with Target, where we can see where our top-line performance is in which states, stores, or even which SKU. This information can be very beneficial from a marketing standpoint to geotarget or focus on areas where we have a strong base or go after areas where we don't have a strong base, but if we grow that base, we will grow overall.”
Risdon has accessed data from Walmart, Target, and UNFI to help her understand where all of her retail accounts are, what their product assortment is, and how sales performance varies at the store level. With this information, she can forecast demand and find opportunities to optimize sales.
"This information [from Crisp] can be very beneficial from a marketing standpoint to geotarget or focus on areas where we have a strong base or go after areas where we don't have a strong base, but if we grow that base, we will grow overall.”
One example of a key business insight uncovered: Risdon noticed in Crisp that major UNFI accounts weren't carrying The Honey Pot's top-selling product in their mix -- leaving significant sales on the table. She then shared this insight with her UNFI buyer to get the best-seller stocked. Within three months, it was introduced into 900 stores, becoming Honey Pot's second-highest seller in both units and dollars at UNFI.
Ultimately, Risdon says, finding these distribution gaps creates a win-win partnership.
"We're helping the retailer and distributor, because they don't always understand those gaps in distribution. If we can work with UNFI to identify those items in specific chains for the retail buyer, it'll grow our business and it'll grow their business as well."
A Sweet Partnership
Using Promomash + Crisp has helped The Honey Pot manage their rapid growth and trade spend effectively, make more informed decisions, and answer critical questions about their retail channel. According to De Loughy, this is just the beginning as they look ahead to 2024 planning.
“Our promotions could always perform better,” said De Loughy. “That begs the question, what are those obstacles? How do we better plan for promotions in 2024 or the back half of 2023? The bigger dig-in will be just understanding where that miss is, and how we capitalize on that so that we are growing for each of the promotions and showing a real return on investment.”
With Promomash + Crisp, The Honey Pot team is now properly positioned to see their business even more clearly as time passes.
“Having a platform that’s as agile as Promomash, with Crisp data included, is making it easier for our teams to discern real trends and insights over time versus making a lot of assumptions and never knowing if they were true or not,” said De Loughy. “I’m excited for what’s ahead with Promomash + Crisp and what we will learn from our business.”