VP of Sales Mike Scavuzzo uses timely retail data to keep inventory flowing from DCs to stores, maximizing the challenger brand’s partnership with every retailer.
The first functional chocolate bar
Mid-Day Squares is not your average chocolate bar, or your typical CPG company. It all started with Lezlie Karls, who had developed a wholesome chocolatey snack to get through long days working in the fashion industry. Her husband-to-be, then in finance, got hooked as well – and on their honeymoon, the two decided to turn Lez’s delicious creation into a company. After recruiting her brother to join the (ad)venture, Mid-Day Squares was born in 2018. Mid-Day Squares offers the best of both worlds between a chocolate and protein bar, boasting 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, a surprisingly low amount of sugar, and added superfood ingredients. But it’s not just the product that makes this brand stand out: their radical transparency documenting every step of the entrepreneurship journey, plus creative content like music videos, has earned them thousands of social media and real-life super-fans. Their methods are working: the company has doubled its business year over year, already hitting 700 stores since breaking into the U.S. market from Canada just 18 months ago.
It takes data to prove performance
To keep up that momentum, Mid-Day Squares hired industry veteran Mike Scavuzzo as VP of Sales. Having worked for large and emerging CPG brands as well as data firm IRI, Mike appreciates the value of good data more than anyone. For starters, it’s key to demonstrating value to new retail partners. As Mike explains, “Mid-Day Squares’ performance is really strong, so being able to take those successes and use them as a benchmark for other retailers to be comfortable bringing in a new brand has been crucial for us. If you can prove performance, a lot of great things can happen.”
There was just one problem. While Mid-Day’s distributor data contained a wealth of information, it took Mike hours combing through spreadsheets to get any insights he could act upon. With a lean team, he just couldn’t afford that kind of time – so he often went without. “Before Crisp, we were operating in the dark,” he reflects.
“A challenger brand with staying power”
Now with Crisp, Mike’s team uses data to succeed as a challenger brand in a competitive market. Key to their strategy, he says, is making sure the product is always where it needs to be along the supply chain, so they can maximize every retail opportunity.
Mid-Day Squares sees themselves as “a challenger brand with staying power.” To achieve this goal, Mike has a simple formula: a great product, a great brand, and great data. On the sales side, data helps Mike’s team choose the right retail partner, and offer them the right information to de-risk the decision to bring Mid-Day into their stores. “I can show we have phenomenal fill rates, that we’re growing period over period, we have X or Y sales velocity, and size the prize through Crisp data…and that makes it a lot easier for buyers to say yes.”
“I can show we have phenomenal fill rates, that we’re growing period over period, we have X or Y sales velocity, and size the prize through Crisp data…and that makes it a lot easier for buyers to say yes.”Mike Scavuzzo, VP of Sales
Once they’ve gotten into new doors, Mike’s next goal is to keep products moving seamlessly along the supply chain. It might not sound glamorous, but Mike knows it’s what makes or breaks a CPG business. “It’s a brick by brick approach,” he explains. “We’re making sure the fundamentals are in place — did we ship on time to partners, did they ship on time to stores, and are we selling. It sounds easy, but without data, it’s incredibly difficult.”
Keeping the shelves stocked with chocolate
For Mike, being able to quickly pinpoint problem areas is key to ensuring success at every store. But the lean team at Mid-Day doesn’t have time to monitor data all day, which is why Mike loves Crisp’s Notifications. With this feature, Mike can get email alerts about any important changes – for example, if a particular distributor or retailer had a dip in distribution or velocity compared to prior weeks. “I get a ping in my inbox and can quickly go into the dashboard and immediately drill down. Was there an inventory issue? Did the product not get delivered to stores? Is it a complete void? With Crisp, I can pinpoint where those problems are within a matter of seconds.”
Mike is also a big fan of the Voids Dashboard, which uses predictive analytics based on historical data to identify stores where products should be selling, but aren’t. Through the dashboard, Mike first exports a store list to share with his distribution partner or merchandising team to see if DCs and retail stores are receiving the products they need. Then, he can share his findings with his category managers. Ultimately, Mike says this helps Mid-Day Squares strengthen their retailer relationships. “Category managers have a ton on their desk and can sometimes lose sight of a brand, so if we bring that information to them, it helps us be top of mind and say, ‘we are trying to grow the whole category with you.’ It takes the dialog to another level.”
“Was there an inventory issue? Did the product not get delivered to stores? Is it a complete void? With Crisp, I can pinpoint where those problems are within a matter of seconds.”Mike Scavuzzo, VP of Sales
Crisp helped Mike’s team partner with retailers on another big initiative: a packaging change. Moving from their traditional two-square pack to a single-square package was their biggest request from consumers, so the Mid-Day team was eager to make the switch – but with extensive experience in CPG, Mike knew that packaging changes are never simple. This time, however, he had data at his side. “We now have first-hand understanding of how to phase out our current product and phase in our one-square product,” Mike explains. What goes into that is managing inventory levels – gradually selling out of the two-square package before bringing in the new size.” Mike then monitors his Distribution Dashboard in Crisp to track each store making the switch. “We want to make sure it’s a smooth and effective transition, and with Crisp we can track that in real time,” Mike says.
With the packaging change complete, Mike’s team can look to other exciting initiatives. Mid-Day Squares is preparing to release a cookie dough product that promises to be incredibly delicious and offer the nutritional benefits typical of their product line, with 6 grams of protein and only 4 grams of sugar. They’re also announcing exciting new retail partnerships in the near future – and with Crisp, they’re set up for success.