June 29, 2022
Samantha Johnston

With Crisp, NotCo is milking their data for all it’s worth

NotCo’s head of strategy and planning uses Crisp data keep operations on track during hypergrowth and align the company around a clear path to success.

Same taste, but plant-based

NotCo is no stranger to data: the innovative brand’s AI-based software has carved out a new space in the plant-based world by mimicking the tastes and textures of animal products using plant-derived ingredients. Called Giuseppe, the software mines a database of thousands of plants for molecules also found in milk and proteins. For instance, their breakout product NotMilk uses surprising ingredients like pineapple and cabbage, which Giuseppe has found contains similar compounds found in traditional milk. The result? AI-powered, plant-based favorites from a perfectly foamed latte to a Shake Shack milkshake.

Since launching in November 2020, NotCo’s growth has been explosive, hitting nearly 7,000 stores across the U.S. in three different categories. Core to their success is leveraging the AI-powered R&D process to introduce products at lightning speed. NotCo has recently released new sizes, a shelf-stable milk pack, and the NotBurger, their plant-based patty that turned heads at Expo West

Planning for success

Growing at such an impressive rate requires a killer game plan – and that’s where Senior Manager of Strategy and Planning Dan Capraun comes in. Dan’s job is to not only look at past performance, but to project future sales growth, supply chain requirements, and portfolio development, so NotCo is ready to meet every opportunity. His analysis covers buyer presentations, R&D, volume forecasting, and data for marketing. He also manages the S&OP (Sales & Operational Planning) process to align the organization around a single outlook, then works with the operations team to ensure retailers and distributors are properly stocked.

This requires Dan to be steeped in data on a daily basis, especially for key distributor and retail partners. But manually pulling hundreds of reports to monitor sales and inventory data from three different retail portals was not going to support NotCo’s fast pace. Having already worked with Crisp at his previous company, Dan contacted our team in his first week on the job at NotCo.

Equipping sales with insights

Dan immediately saw two important uses of Crisp — convenient data access for himself, and self-serve dashboards for NotCo’s sales teams. “You don’t need to be a data person to use Crisp. That’s the beauty of the platform,” Dan explains. “Crisp allows our sales teams to own their business, without having to ask one of the sales strategy team members to pull together insights on performance.”

After less than an hour of training from Dan, NotCo’s sales teams began using Crisp daily to inform their strategy. With a few clicks, they can pull up a filtered view of a particular account or region, understand how sales are performing and where there are shortfalls, and check if new accounts have issued repeat orders. They can also build effective sales stories to continue expansion. Empowering sales to leverage data frees up four hours each week for Dan, but doesn’t create silos in the company: “We’re still speaking the same language, because the data is harmonized across the organization. We have one source of truth, and that stems from Crisp.”

“We’re still speaking the same language, because the data is harmonized across the organization. We have one source of truth, and that stems from Crisp.”

Dan Capraun, Senior Manager of Strategy and Planning

For his own use, Dan loves Crisp’s Outbound Connector for Excel, which automatically refreshes the latest retail insights directly into his frequently used Excel files. With this tool, Dan creates customized regional velocity reports and data visualizations that the team likes to see. “The Crisp Outbound Connector is standardized — so you can build any single report you want off of that same raw data, and it’s automatically refreshed when you need it,” Dan explains.

Enough milk to meet the moment

Just as important to growth is making sure accounts are fully stocked and shoppers can find NotCo’s products. This is where serious planning skills come into play. Dan and NotCo’s operations team use Crisp’s Inventory Dashboard daily to manage weeks of supply across distributors. This helps them understand risk, look for areas of low supply, and work with buyers to plus-up certain regions or SKUs. As Dan has observed throughout his career, one of the biggest startup pitfalls is managing weeks of supply incorrectly across distributors in the natural channel. Failure leads to lost sales for both the retailer and distributor – leaving shoppers to switch to a competitor. “Data is the key to solving that problem,” Dan reflects. “Crisp’s Inventory Dashboard has helped us circumvent out of stock issues across the network, which translates to additional sales across our distribution channels.”

With service levels high, Dan can look ahead to supplying NotCo’s bright future. He points out another common CPG startup mistake: not forecasting properly for growth in the market. While established brands can rely on a predictable 1-3% growth rate, startups need to project for exponential growth, and then communicate that picture to distributors so both sides are ready to meet demand. This ties back to Dan’s S&OP process. “We have one set of numbers to feed teams across finance, executive, demand planning, supply planning, and procurement. Buying raw ingredients in today’s supply chain environment is really challenging, but Crisp helps our team answer questions on the fly, which gives hours back to their day to day to focus on those tougher problems.”

“Crisp’s Inventory Dashboard has helped us circumvent out of stock issues across the network, which translates to additional sales across our distribution channels.”

Dan Capraun, Senior Manager of Strategy and Planning

Launching the next big thing

Dan also helps NotCo prepare for product launches, which factors in data from multiple sources. Before a launch, he leverages SPINS data for bottom-up market analysis to determine benchmark velocities, ideal store count, price point, and merchandising strategies. 

Once the product is launched, there’s a crucial three-month proving ground to see if it lands successfully in the market. That’s where Crisp data comes in, helping Dan evaluate the product’s performance on shelf against his benchmark velocity. From there, the team can take another look at planogram placement, pricing, promotion execution, and in-store demos and course-correct as needed.

NotCo has plenty of exciting launches to look forward to. Their shelf-stable 12-pack is rolling out in Costco Northwest, their 64 oz club pack is hitting the Southeast, and the highly anticipated NotBurger will go national with a leading natural grocer chain in July, just in time for grilling season.

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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