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Kemps savors smoother, richer trade promotions

Dairy co-op maximizes ROI on promotional activities, enables sales and marketing collaboration, and supports retailers’ success

Dairy co-op Kemps invests tens of millions every year in trade promotions to drive sales of its milk, ice cream, cultured dairy, and other products. By transforming trade promotions management with Anaplan, the company can now track promotional spending at a granular level, perform “what-if” analyses to determine the best-performing promotions, collaborate better with stakeholders, and maximize ROI on promotional spending.

Anaplan gives us immediate insight into how trade promotions perform so we can optimize for efficiency and ROI.

Tom Whittier, Director of Trade Marketing

Don’t let the laid-back image of cows in green pastures fool you: The dairy business is fiercely competitive. To encourage consumers to choose its milk, ice cream, and other products, Minnesota-based Kemps—with 1,300 employees and $800 million in annual revenue—spends tens of millions every year on trade promotions. As Kemps’ Director of Trade Marketing, Tom Whittier’s job is to make sure those dollars deliver maximum value for Kemps and the retailers who serve consumers throughout the Upper Midwest.

For more than 17 years, trade promotion management (TPM) at Kemps relied on manual processes and rigid, proprietary, and increasingly crash-prone software. When support for that software ended in late 2017, Whittier’s team sought a new and better system. They invited Anaplan to show how a Connected Planning platform might support TPM, and the Anaplan team spent an evening building a working model of the solution that Kemps wanted.

“We all said, ‘Holy cow, you made this overnight?’” Whittier recalls. “Normally we’d expect it to take weeks if not months to create a system like this.” They were sold, and Anaplan’s rapid development facility was borne out when Kemps’ production environment went live in 14 weeks—three weeks ahead of schedule.

The Anaplan-based TPM solution streamlines the old software’s 10+ interfaces into three: A promotion dashboard where data is entered, a deduction dashboard where promotions are reconciled (by dimensions including SKU, seller, and activity); and a spend report that shows promotional spending, trade promotion accruals, and return on promotions.

The spend report has transformed the way Whittier and his team approach their work. Using live and historical data in Anaplan, they analyze promotions in near-real time and test mixes of promotional activities that optimize both sales volume and net selling price. The company’s previous method for measuring ROI was manually driven; they exported data, altered it, created graphs and charts, and then reviewed the information. With Anaplan, those capabilities are built into the system and completely integrated. “Anaplan gives us immediate insight into how trade promotions perform,” Whittier says, “so we can optimize for efficiency and ROI.”

The ability to analyze data, test scenarios, and optimize performance in a single user interface has transformed Whittier’s relationship with the Kemps sales team. In collaborative monthly meetings, they comb through data together—evaluating promotions for key accounts, finding ways to maximize ROI, and closing the gap between spending and accruals. “We couldn’t do that with our old tool,” Whittier says.

Kemps also shares Anaplan-generated insights with its retail channel, showing them which activities deliver desired results and backing up recommendations with data. Kemps’ retail partners are looking for help in determining optimal promotional plans and frequency, Whittier explains, and the ability to provide them with results within a week of a promotion is important. “Retailers always want to know about their gross margin dollars, and with Anaplan, we can provide that information,” Whittier says. “We discuss what’s best for them and us together, and we believe that gives Kemps a competitive advantage.”

The open Anaplan platform has also improved information-sharing from retailers back to Kemps. Under the old system, results were faxed and entered manually; with Anaplan, retailers can provide results in CSV files that Kemps can import with a click.

Kemps chose Anaplan for its rapid time to value, user-friendliness, and the time savings it unlocked. “Anaplan is much easier to use than our old system,” says Project Manager Jessica Thibodeau. “We spend less time allocating deductions, and more time analyzing the data. It’s changing the mindset of how Kemps can work.” She notes that Anaplan’s auditability and built-in checks and balances ensure data accuracy, and the Anaplan user experience is inviting to other teams because it is “modern, sleek, and appealing to business leaders.”

“We’re always looking to expand use of tools like Anaplan that can deliver better value to Kemps, our retail channel, and ultimately our customers,” Whittier says.

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