The collaborative journey: how Raia Drogasil and Hypera teamed up to serve their customers

At dunnhumby, we’re strong believers in the power of being Customer First. And as certain as we are about that, it’s always good to hear that philosophy echoed by others from around the retail industry. That’s why I particularly enjoyed my time with two of Brazil’s leading retail pharma experts at our recent Global Partner Summit.

In a brief but lively conversation with Juliana Lopes (executive commercial director at pharmacy retailer Raia Drogasil) and Shelida Barsella (trade marketing director at pharma company Hypera) the two told me more about how they’d joined forces in service of the customer. From their evolving approach to planning and the growing importance of co-creation, here are a few of the key points from that discussion.

Sandrine Devy (SD): I know that Raia Drogasil (RD) and Hypera are both very data-driven businesses. Tell me a little bit about how that works in practice.

Juliana Lopes (JL): So, our approach to category management is a good example. All of our CatMan decisions at RD are wholly based on data, and that can lead to some interesting results. Take the cold and flu category; we used to treat that as a single thing – a seasonal range that was typically only shopped during the winter.

When we looked at the data, though, we saw that a large number of customers in that category were actually looking for allergy – rather than cold – relief. So with that in mind, we were able to separate that out and start running commercial activations across the entire year. Data helped us make a seasonal range into a full year business, and one that is much better aligned to what customers want.

Shelida Barsella (SB): I’m thinking back to when we first started using customer data at Hypera, and the decision we made to democratize information and insights across the entire business. That was critical, because it helped us add a new level of precision to the patient journey. It has helped us with innovation, enabled us to be more strategic with our category recommendations, and given us a completely different path to product development.

JL: And that has been good for us, too. As great as it is to have as much data as we do, we cover around 400 categories and don’t have the capacity to do a deep dive on each of them. So when we have partners like Hypera, who are able to take that data and provide their own views, we often get these amazing insights that can really change the way that we organise a category. It’s a win-win way of working that has added a lot of value to our businesses and our clients.

SD: And that shift has allowed us to be more collaborative as well. We used to just create our category plans and present them to RD. In 2019, we decided to co-create them instead. So we work together on our media, innovation, promotional, and visibility strategies, which has delivered some amazing results.

SD: So you’re effectively pooling your resources, with data as the centre point – that’s great. How do you make sure that data is actually being used across the whole organisation though? Is it part of people’s objectives, or built in to processes?

JL: For RD, data is very much embedded in our culture. Data is at the core of our commercial decision making, and that’s the first thing that everyone learns when they join our CatMan team. For us, I think the bigger question is how we evolve; RD was one of the first retailers here in Brazil to use data to this extent, but we want to keep moving forwards as well.

With the amount of data we have – 20m transactions per month, almost 95% identified – we know a lot about what our clients like, which channels they shop, whether they tend towards  price or quality, and so on. Now, we’re thinking about how we can use that data to do other things as well. Redesigning categories for instance, or rethinking CatMan in the digital world.

SB: A great example of that is the work we did with RD on developing a specific OTC area for mothers. We looked at their baskets and journeys, and realised that an entire part of an average mom’s pharma shop is OTC. So we were able to create a dedicated OTC space in RD stores, just for them. We’re giving them a very different experience by doing that, and it’s something that we’ve been able to recreate on RD’s ecommerce platform as well.

JL: And it’s a good example of being customer-centric too, because we could have just spoken to them about categories. But instead we focused on their need: an easy, one-stop-shop experience.

SD: That’s fantastic. And what would you say to any retailer or CPG that’s looking at developing a similar relationship to the one between RD and Hypera?

JL: Collaboration is a journey, and it’s one you need to go on together. We have amazing data, but the real value has come from mining it tandem with Hypera. dunnhumby has obviously played a huge role in that as well in terms of processing and analytics, so really it has been a case of everyone working to put the shopper at the centre.

It delivers results, as well. Data has helped us grow our businesses; RD is a 100-year old company, but one that is still enjoying double digit growth. That isn’t luck, it’s the result of a lot of scientific and consumer-centric decision making.

SB: I would echo that. Being given access to these kinds of insights has been hugely advantageous for our business. RD is our biggest customer, and we’re enjoying very positive results there – and that’s all thanks to working together as closely as we are.

Sandrine Devy is the Managing Director of dunnhumby’s Global Manufacturer Practice.

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