Solutions for Dairy/Dairy Alternative Brands with Sales Planning, Trade Spending Challenges

Growing food and beverage brands have common challenges with planning sales, managing trade spending and deductions, and measuring the performance of promotions. These challenges emerge as a brand’s product portfolio grows, new customers are acquired, and the number of promotions and deduction increases. All of this is further complicated by a good problem- a growing team- who all need to be integrated into the business process.  

To these challenges we add one that is applicable to most Dairy/Dairy Alternative brands: shelf life. Because of the risk of spoilage, accurate sales forecasts are imperative.  

Risks with Managing Manually/Spreadsheets

Planning and tracking sales forecasts, trade spending, and promotions is typically completed with spreadsheets. While this solution may support basic needs, there are risks that result in re-work, inaccurate information, and inefficiency. Complex spreadsheets with several data sources shared across multiple users creates risk of human error and data integrity issues. Maintaining and collating data is time-intensive and can create delays in critical report production, without which, detail and insight on business performance (like forecast accuracy) cannot be achieved. This makes decision making difficult.  

For more information on the risks of tracking promotions in Excel, click here. 

Why Leading Dairy/Dairy Alternative Brands use BluePlanner TPM

UpClear has partnered with companies in the dairy and dairy alternative categories for many years. In fact, Danone was our very first client! Here are the ways that BluePlanner Trade Promotion Management (TPM) helps them run their business.  

Crystal Farms had a legacy TPM system that was very custom and required significant effort when maintenance or other updates were needed. Because of this, a true Software as a Service (SaaS) solution was an especially important factor going forward.  But the largest factor in selecting BluePlanner, however, was the ease of use for the sales team. A second standout feature was the visibility gained through quick reporting. This led to an improved ability to build out better promotion calendars.  

Valio (formerly Finlandia Cheese) sought to deploy TPM very quickly. The project began in November, just when planning for the next year typically begins. UpClear delivered on a deadline to be live and onboard all users before the end of that year. Said Joe DeMarco, VP of Sales, “This is the second time I have had the opportunity to work with UpClear and they have once again provided a robust solution for sales that is easy to use and delivers value immediately.” Another capability important to Valio was integration with their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, AND the agility to change course when they deployed a new one. This involved adjusting master data within BluePlanner to accommodate for the new system (SAP). BluePlanner was able to perform this transition without disruption in daily reporting. 

Grupo Lala is one of the largest dairy groups in the world with extensive distribution and sales throughout Mexico and the United States. For Lala, BluePlanner delivers the same user-friendly, well-structured TPM capabilities and a single vendor across countries. Danone is even bigger, with BluePlanner TPM used across Northern Europe.     

Ripple Foods is a California-based maker of plant-based dairy alternatives. Their search for a TPM solution was the result of outgrowing Excel spreadsheet tracking. Mark Mathews, Ripple’s head of sales at the time of selection said, “After a comprehensive and exhaustive search, we had unanimous support for our selection of BluePlanner as our TPM solution. We were very impressed with many of the features, but the key criteria that differentiated BluePlanner from other solutions and most attracted us were the following: dynamic customer level P&Ls to complement the planning process, information security, deductions and accrual solutions are embedded in BluePlanner’s functionality, the ideal level of automated integration.”  

Blue Diamond Growers’ whose dairy alternative brand is Almond Breeze, deployed BluePlanner in 2020. Said Corby Drewes, Blue Diamond Grower’s Senior Manager of Sales Operations, at the time, “We believe UpClear’s BluePlanner solution is a perfect fit for Blue Diamond Growers. Ease of use and speed of deployment were two key reasons why BluePlanner was the clear choice. Three months after our kickoff meeting, we’re already training our Sales team and Broker partners, and we will be live in less than 6 months. The support we’ve gotten so far has been tremendous, advising us on best practices every step of the way. We’re confident we’ll see results in better fiscal year planning, visibility of customer investment levels/profitability, and ultimately, trade efficiency.”   

Whether new to market, established across multiple markets, or multi-channel (retail and foodservice), UpClear’s BluePlanner works for dairy and dairy alternative brands by creating a new level of structure, control, and efficiency in the sales planning and deduction management process, and delivering faster, more thorough insight into sales, trade spending and promotional performance. 

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