Faced with declining demand for its Safio flavoured milk in portion packs, Al Safi Danone launched an innovative initiative based around the idea of personalisation and targeted specifically at children. Between March and May 2016, some 56 million Tetra Brik® Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf packages were produced personalised with some of the most popular boys' and girls' names in Saudi Arabia. A comprehensive promotional campaign ran from September to November, and helped to increase sales and boost market share; providing another successful example of how the shared commitment to innovation between Tetra Pak and Al Safi Danone is delivering results.
Al Safi was formed in 1981, with the aim of producing innovative products that would support consumers in leading a healthy lifestyle. In 2001, the company joined forces with French dairy producer Danone Group, and now produces and distributes products under brand names from both companies, including Actimel, Activia, Al Safi, Danette, Danao and Safio. Today, Al Safi Danone exports to 11 countries, and is one of the market leaders in flavoured milk in 200ml portion packs in Saudi Arabia. A fully integrated company, Al Safi Danone has its own dairy farm with more than 50,000 cows.
Initially, Al Safi Danone worked with Tetra Pak on its processing business. Since then, the partnership has expanded to include packaging as well. Now, Al Safi Danone produces around 300 million Tetra Pak® packages each year: 150 million-plus Tetra Top® packages; 120 million Tetra Brik Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf packages; and 30 million Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Slim packages. The company was the first to deploy the Tetra Top® package and subsequently the HeliCap™ in Saudi Arabia, helping it to establish a dominant position in the milk and milk/juice blend categories. The deployment of Tetra Brik Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf in 2014, for Safio brand flavoured milks, was the first anywhere in the world. It has seven Tetra Pak filling lines: one Tetra Pak A3/Speed line producing Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Slim HeliCap and four Tetra Top TT/3 TT lines producing 1000 and 200ml Tetra Top packages. The Tetra Brik Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf packages used for the campaign are produced on two Tetra Pak TBA/22 lines, following the installation of an upgrade kit as part of Tetra Pak's ReFit your line, ReShape you future™ programme.
The volatile economic situation in Saudi Arabia had contributed to an overall decline in the flavoured milk category. For Al Safi Danone, the effect was compounded by an increase in raw material costs which had led it to raise the price of Safio milk to 1.5 SAR, while key competitors such as Nada and Rainbow had maintained a lower price point. In the first three quarters of 2016, Safio's market share saw a decline. The company wanted to find a way to capitalise on Safio's high profile and reverse or at least slow the decline in demand by maximising engagement with young consumers.
Safio already has a strong presence among children, so the idea of personalising packs – giving young consumers the opportunity to drink from their 'own pack' –resonated strongly. Al Safi Danone worked with a creative agency to develop the idea, with strong support throughout from the Tetra Pak team. Tetra Brik Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf provided the perfect backdrop for the redesign: the unique side panels create space for marketing and communication messages, while the eye-catching shape ensures strong shelf appeal. Tetra Pak helped Al Safi Danone with the creation of 135 individual package designs – 25 names across five different flavours – and in ensuring that each tray of 18 packages contained a cross-section of names, making it easier for retailers to provide a comprehensive offering. A promotional campaign began with Facebook teasers and included social media, in-mall booths where kids could take photos and participate in Safio activities in three major cities and an online campaign.
The personalised packs have proved popular with consumers: before the promotion, monthly average sales stood at 2800 tonnes (February to May); post-promotion, this rose to 3017 tonnes (September to November), an 8% increase. Market share also grew from 13 to 16%.
It's clear from the figures that the personalised packages initiative had a positive impact on sales. For now, though, Al Safi Danone is focusing on other ways of responding to the continued challenging market environment, including through its long-established and well-loved Safio Cup promotional campaign. The project highlighted the need for a detailed brief that anticipates all eventualities – for example, the need for packages to be sorted and packed manually to give the right mix of names – and sets out a realistic timeline. Timing too is crucial: slippage meant that the campaign was eventually launched after children had returned to school, potentially reducing its impact.