Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

This is the “FOOD REVOLUTION.” – Find out how this company is building a healthier world through food! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

October 25, 2021

The French Revolution was a period of political and societal change that began in 1789 and ended in 1799 in France. 

Many of the ideas that sprung from this event became the fundamental principles of liberal democracy and inspired campaigns for universal suffrage and abolition of slavery. 

More than 200 years later… 

One company is inciting a new “revolution” in the same European country and in other parts of the world. 

… but don’t worry! Unlike the French Revolution, this one is non-violent and is about reconnecting people with the food they eat and building a healthier world through food.

Danone S.A. is a multinational food corporation headquartered in Paris, France. Most of its sales come from specialized nutrition, water, dairy, and plant-based products. 

The company believes a lot of consumers nowadays want healthier and more responsibly-produced products. This led to the creation of a unique, health-focused portfolio that puts emphasis on all-natural and fresh ingredients. 

Danone’s focus on manufacturing plant-based products and beverages came with the acquisition of food company WhiteWave in April 2017. 

The acquisition helped Danone grow its customer base and create naturally flavored beverages made from soy, almonds, coconuts, rice, and oats. 

Thanks to WhiteWave brands’ expanded and diversified portfolio, Danone had the opportunity to address flexitarians’ growing demand for natural, nutritious, and environment-friendly products! 

[Flexitarians: Consumers who are looking to diversify their sources of protein and are eating mostly plant-based foods.] 

According to Francisco Camacho, Danone’s Executive Vice President for Essential Dairy and Plant-Based Products, 

“We want to offer wide-ranging food and drink choices that become a natural part of consumers’ healthy eating habits throughout the day, adapted to today’s needs and lifestyles.” 

At present, the company is still developing better-for-you food alternatives to provide consumers with diverse choices and solutions for different moments and occasions of the day. 

What else is Danone doing to market itself and its core business of producing healthy products to consumers around the world? 

The company creates attention-grabbing marketing campaigns that communicate its principles and values in the business sector. 

Let’s highlight two of these campaigns… 

The “Light and Free Ink” Campaign in 2019 

Are you looking for ways to get the attention of a relatively young market? 

Try MUSIC and ART… like what Danone did! 

In March 2019, the company promoted its “Light and Free” yogurts using an artistic campaign aimed at consumers aged between 18 and 34 years old. 

By enlisting the services of 4 British artists across different disciplines―street artist Nerone, designer Morag Myerscough, illustrator and lettering artist Justin Poulter, and graphic artist Neil Stevens―Danone sold its yogurt products with vibrant, colorful, and beautifully-designed packaging. 

What’s more? 

Danone didn’t just work with artists but also teamed up with Spotify to promote the “Light and Free” yogurts through music! 

Once a customer scanned the Spotify code on the yogurts’ packaging, they were directed to a curated playlist made by the artists who also worked on the package designs. The songs included in the playlist reflected the “Light and Free” vibe, encouraging listeners to stay positive and be confident in expressing themselves. 

The “Yogurt Revolution” in 2019 

Following the announcement of new yogurt flavors, Danone bolstered its digital offerings and highlighted the “no sugar added” element of the product to appeal to a lot of health-conscious millennials. 

The only thing that makes Danone’s yogurts sweet even without sugar? 

Fruit purée! 

According to Marie-Éve Girard, Danone’s Director of Essential Dairy and Innovation Portfolio, this was the reason why fruits were front-and-center in the campaign. She said that even though the company’s yogurt isn’t as sweet as the other brands, it takes the leading position in the health category. 

This enabled the company to lead with new, low-sugar offerings that aligned with consumer demands and preferences! 

In the past five years, Danone S.A. has recorded revenues of:

  • EUR 21.9 billion in 2016
  • EUR 24.8 billion in 2017
  • EUR 24.6 billion in 2018
  • EUR 25.3 billion in 2019
  • EUR 23.6 billion in 2020

Based on these numbers, we can see that the company’s marketing campaigns in 2019 had positive contributions as Danone recorded the highest revenue in that year. 

Danone S.A.’s Earning Power: Valens Research vs. As-reported numbers 

Danone S.A. (BN:FRA) makes for a great case study that we come back to regularly. One great reason?

The company has proven itself to be a better earning power generator than investors might think.

So, how well has Danone been growing its business in the past years?

The research doesn’t lie—nor do the results. Earning power (the blue bars) continues to show results higher on average than what traditional databases show.

The blue bars in the chart above represent Danone’s earning power (Uniform return on assets). Historically, Danone has seen generally robust profitability. Its Uniform ROA ranged from 16% to 35% in the past sixteen years, or an average of 26%. Uniform ROA is at 16% in 2020.  

The global ROA is just 6%. 

The orange bars are the company’s as-reported financial information. If you relied on these numbers, you will see a company with understated profitability. As-reported ROA (return on assets, a measure of earning power) only ranged from 5% to 7% in the past sixteen years. Its as-reported ROA in 2020 was only at 5%, which is 3 times lower than its Uniform ROA in 2020. 

That’s what you’ll see in Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and most other databases.

The company’s stock price also performed better than the rest of the stock market over the decade, which we can see in the blue line in the chart below. Its returns have been well above the market.

The numbers show that Danone has been doing well and making a profit. 

According to the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Valérie Hernando-Presse, the marketing concept of “selling more stuff to more people” is over in today’s people-powered world. 

That’s why the company is adopting a new vision that encompasses not only people-powered brands, content, and innovation, but also new ways to connect with local communities. 

This is what Danone’s “Food Revolution” is all about! 

―offering nutritious, delicious, and convenient choices to meet consumers’ demands for great-tasting and responsibly-produced food. 

“We want all our brands to put purpose at the center and commit to this revolution. [We’ll move] from ‘storytelling’ to ‘story showing.’ It’s not business-to-consumers, but humans-to-humans. The future is bright for marketing.” – Valérie Hernando-Presse

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some company’s marketing strategy. 

…Only for the audience to later find out that their product was a flop, or worse, that the company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole. 

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the role of marketing is always paramount to that success. 

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies. 

However, the difference between our case studies and the numerous ones out there, is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group).

By looking at the true earnings of a company, we can now rely on those successful businesses to get tips and insights on what they did right.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve on. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful. 

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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