July 27, 2022
Samantha Johnston

Decades later, Flax4Life is still innovating

Crisp data gives Flax4Life’s sales and marketing teams visibility to launch the next great product, design winning marketing campaigns, and gain market share.

Added nutrition for sweet treats

For over 21 years, Flax4Life has been on the cutting edge of gluten free, better-for-you baking. It all started when a member of their fifth-generation family of bakers developed Celiac disease. This inspired the family to recreate their favorite recipes using flaxseed as the primary ingredient, which has since developed into a line of delicious gluten free muffins, brownies, granola, cakes, and cookies. From being a first entry in the gluten free market to developing the first compostable packaging, Flax4Life has always worked to lead the industry forward. And demand for gluten free goods has only boomed over time: in the last 10 years, the brand has expanded nationwide across Sprouts, Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger, and e-commerce. 

But while demand for gluten free products has soared, so has the number of brands entering the market – so Flax4Life has had to continually evolve and innovate, from product development to sales to merchandising. One of their secret ingredients? Data.

A savvier way to sell

Sales and Marketing Specialist Sarah Bishop recalls that before Crisp, data was scattered, raw, and difficult to use in daily decision-making. “It took a lot of manual labor to get any valuable data points,” Sarah reflects. “We wasted a lot of time just trying to get and manipulate retail data.” As a company that works with distributors for much of their business, the lack of visibility into retail performance proved problematic. As Sarah pointed out, even answering a simple question like “where are we sold in the Midwest?” would take hours of collating reports and spreadsheets to answer. This didn’t leave her with much to go on when running sales and marketing programs. So when Sarah heard that UNFI was partnering with Crisp to make data more accessible, her team jumped at the opportunity.

Now, Sarah and her colleagues can access the latest data from all of their distributors and retailers in an instant. “Crisp has been transformative,” she says. “Getting those data points you need quickly has been absolutely amazing.” Sarah says Crisp saves her 10-15 hours per month on raw data manipulation alone. And with convenient access to insights, Flax4Life’s sales team has fully embraced data to drive growth. They use Crisp’s Sales Dashboards to track performance, identify trends at different stores, and build a case to expand to new locations. This is particularly important, Sarah says, as a better-for-you brand that needs to work that much harder to demonstrate consumer demand. “Saying your product sells is one thing, but if you have the actual data behind it, it’s much more impactful,” Sarah explains. “Crisp has made that process very easy and transparent.” With Crisp, Sarah’s team can back up their claims with data from other stores or retailers, showing how the product will perform in the new location. 

To ensure those stores stay successful, Sarah’s team uses Crisp’s Voids Dashboard to detect any issues that might keep products from selling. “With Crisp, we can be more proactive than reactive,” Sarah says. “If we see something going wrong with a store we can step in before it becomes a major problem.” As a bakery product, it’s important that operations are running smoothly to keep products fresh and limit spoilage, so Flax4Life’s operations team also gets access to the Crisp platform to track month-to-month sales.

“Saying your product sells is one thing, but if you have the actual data behind it, it’s much more impactful. Crisp has made that process very easy and transparent.”

Sarah Bishop, Sales and Marketing Specialist

Making the most of marketing dollars

Retail marketing is notoriously challenging, but Sarah uses data in Crisp to inform her marketing strategy, both inside and outside the store. To start, data is critical to helping Sarah effectively allocate trade spend. As she points out, distributors and retailers often request additional spend for promotions; but before allocating those precious dollars, Sarah looks at Crisp. With data, she can prioritize stores to invest in: perhaps stores with strong momentum that they can build off of, or a market that might need additional product awareness. After running the promotion, Sarah looks closely at sales per store to see if there’s been a measurable lift.

Outside of stores, Sarah uses data to identify markets where an extra push can drive sales. Before Crisp, Sarah didn’t have great visibility into where Flax4Life products were sold across their distribution channel. But with Crisp, she had an instant heat map of the company’s retail footprint — finding, for instance, that Flax4Life actually had a stronger presence in the Midwest than she realized. With this information, she opted to invest in the Midwest market, and then watched the sales lift at each store. 

Launching products with confidence

To stay on the cutting edge, Flax4Life continues to innovate with new products, and data plays an important role in this process. For instance, when launching their latest cookie 12-pack, Sarah’s team eyed sales performance, tracking the rollout and pricing in each store and measuring sales velocity against their forecast. When sales began to lag, they dug in further and hypothesized that despite the value the 12-pack offered, the larger size gave it a higher price point than consumers were willing to pay. With this information, they decided to roll out a 5-cookie pack that was more in line with the pricing consumers expected. 

“Before Crisp…we were making a best-guess judgment. But now, we have concrete evidence behind our decision-making..”

Sarah Bishop, Sales and Marketing Specialist

Ultimately, Sarah says that Crisp has enabled all aspects of the business to become more data-driven: “Before Crisp, oftentimes we wouldn’t have time to do all the data manipulation, so we wouldn’t get the insights that we needed. We were making a best-guess judgment. But now, we have concrete evidence behind our decision-making.” This ultimately de-risks important decisions while giving the team confidence to pursue new initiatives.

And there are plenty of exciting projects on the horizon. Flax4Life is finalizing R&D on a sugar-alternative brownie, which furthers their better-for-you baking line in an exciting new direction. They’re also preparing to upgrade to a larger operating facility, which will enable even more growth in the years ahead.

To learn more about how data can help your brand grow, contact us for a demo. For more inspiring stories from Crisp brands, subscribe to the blog

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