Story | The Whole Company

“Our brands have success in the market, and Sunrise is there with us, driving us forward”

When you sell over 50 million units per year in a domestic market with less than 6 million people, success is guaranteed. Commercial Director, Michael Rahbek, is at the forefront of transforming the manufacturing business The Whole Company into a brand house for healthy foods. The chosen partner he’s taking on this journey is Sunrise.

Facts

  • Michael Rahbek is Commercial Director of The Whole Company
  • The Whole Company produces and sells plant-based food and drinks
  • Its main brands are: Castus, Fredsted Tea and Trope
  • It currently has 125 employees

A proud innovator

The Whole Company has a proud history as an innovative, Danish and owner-led company. It has been producing and packing plant-based foods for decades: nuts, dried fruits and not least dates and tea. Its best-known brand is Castus, followed by Trope that has been around for over 30 years, and first introduced the Danes to pistachios. Its oldest brand is Fredsted Tea, which has been around since 1917. Operating across B2B and B2C markets, The Whole Company’s brands are sold through both supermarkets, restaurants and various discount chains in addition to a number of export markets.

“Valdemar Fredsted, founder of Fredsted Tea, went out into the world with a mission – to challenge the status quo. We try to live by the same motto to this day.”

Castus is a part of Danish childhood

Looking at The Whole Company’s beloved brand Castus, its target group is made up of all Danes who want to live a little healthier than they did yesterday. As a brand, Castus speaks to the hearts of children and the minds of parents. Virtually all Danes know Castus from childhood and its fruit and vegetable products are a regular fixture in most lunch boxes. Michael Rahbek elaborates on the unique position Castus has forged in the market as a healthy lifestyle brand,

“It is a huge advantage that years ago our visionary owners saw the trends we are experiencing now – to live healthier and eat more plant-based foods. It’s more than just a trend. It puts wind in our sails and keeps us ahead of the game. We have now taken something as simple as a fruit bar and put vegetables in it. This pleases many parents because it’s a constant challenge for them to get vegetables into their kids.”

 

The role of marketing has become more strategic

A market-leading visionary with brands that maintain a unique position and healthy profile, Michael Rahbek describes how the company has achieved success through aligning marketing and strategy within the company, 

“Marketing has changed and is now closely bound to the strategic engine room of The Whole Company. From simply focusing on consumer profiles and spending lots of money on advertising and POS signs, the role has become more intellectual and strategic. I sit on the Executive Board here at The Whole Company which is where the decisions need to be made. This is the first time that I have been part of a small company where you make the strategic decisions and at the same time, act operationally. We get a 360-degree perspective and that ensures we can think the strategic thoughts as well as implement them.”

“Organizationally, we have chosen to split marketing up a bit. In Commercial Marketing, we are looking 3–5 years ahead and making strategic decisions. In addition, we have a Category Organization responsible for communication to consumers via the sales channels we operate in. This gives us a strong position to get our messages across.”

New consumers make new demands

“We have shifted our focus from cardboard signs instore towards the digital arena. Retailers no longer want much instore and at the same time, our younger target groups don’t believe in mass communication as previous generations did. They expect to be communicated to individually, which is why we think a lot about digitalisation and how to get in touch with consumers via social media. On the whole, we have become more creative in seeking out alternative solutions to those we have used before.

We have completely revised our strategy so that we involve consumers one-to-one in many decision-making processes. This has had huge impact on our performance. We can see this on our KPIs on social media, as well as from the reactions we have experienced from stores. They can see that we have a greater digital presence than ever before. This is a 24/7 scenario and consumers expect to get an answer right away if they write to us.”

More targeted and relevant than ever

“We have started to use geo-targeting and communicate to consumers either in purchase situations or close to the point of purchase. It has produced amazing results. It’s pretty simple, but we haven’t done it before. We try to target the messages as accurately as possible according to the time of day. It can, for example, be in the afternoon when consumers need a little extra energy from a healthy snack.

We have worked extensively with Facebook together with Sunrise and have also created content for YouTube where we can see that many consumers are watching our movies right to the end. We are pretty proud of that, because we all know how annoying it can be to get interrupted by adverts. But our films have managed to retain consumer attention and for us, that’s the criteria for success.”

“Sunrise asks the questions that force us to think from the outside in”

A sparring partner drives business forward

To maintain its unique position in the market, The Whole Company and its brands must constantly challenge itself to keep a finger on the pulse. With Sunrise to help spar through asking critical questions, marketing can get a more holistic picture of how their brands are perceived out there in the real world.

“We need a partner who can tap us on the shoulder and make us think differently – Sunrise gives us professional, commercial sparring. I emphasize ‘commercial’, because it is vital to have a common understanding of the importance of selling. A packaging design is worth nothing if it doesn’t sell. The old way of thinking from the inside out is therefore outdated and we must put ourselves into the shoes of consumers. After 24 hours, we know if things are selling or not. This is what we are aiming for. Sunrise challenges and pushes us forwards. They say, “You should do this” and because we are a medium-sized, very agile company, we can respond fairly quickly and try it. To this extent we really benefit from the partnership with Sunrise.”

“We need to build brands to create preference. It is the brand narrative behind the products that creates preference.”

A transition from manufacturing business to brand house

“We have gone from being a manufacturing company, to a retailer, to the brand house we are today – with a new self-awareness and understanding that we need to build brands to create preference.

What I want for The Whole Company is to be the preferred supplier of healthy foods. This is my principal vision, and ultimate task to stay focused on for the next 3­–5 years. It can be difficult during a hectic everyday, but it’s all about believing in ourselves and the ideas we have.”

New strategic depth and greater execution power

“Together with Sunrise, we have spent a lot of time working on everything from refining our purpose and brand strategy, to how we can imagine expanding into other categories. In the past, we may not have been quite good enough at tying up the loose ends to find the perfect solution.

We are doing that now, and a lot of things are planned for Castus in particular as a main brand. We have had some challenging months, but we are about to turn a corner towards solid growth in the short, medium and long term.”

Do you want to hear more?
Contact CEO and Senior Partner
Simon Hertz
+45 22 70 77 10 or sh@sunrise.dk

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