Easyfood is today Denmark’s largest producer of convenience products. Its path to success followed a simple formula at first: entice customers with delicious baked goods at industrial food expositions. But when in-person interaction suddenly became impossible, the company changed the way it sold and interacted with clients completely. The adoption of new digital capabilities such as live streaming and video marketing proved so successful that its customers started adopting the techniques themselves and even became brand ambassadors for Easyfood’s own products. As a result, the changes this company made during the pandemic now position it for strong growth into the future.
Founded in 2000, Kolding-based Easyfood was conceived by CEO Flemming Paasch as a way to combine the artistry of a craft bakery with the scale of an industrial one. Today it develops and sells a broad range of convenience items to service stations and kiosks across Europe. Its signature thaw-and-serve food items can be found in the bakery cases of many European coffee bars too, such as Starbucks and McCafés. Landing such large clients is not always typical for SMEs but stands as testament to Easyfood’s uncommon success at in-person food fairs. “Once prospective clients took a bite of our sausage rolls, they were hooked,” Paasch says with pride.
In early 2020, Paasch was preparing to bring Easyfood products to yet another large industry exposition. “We had an amazing feeling heading into 2020,” he recalls thinking at the time. “It was looking like it would be the best year for us ever, and the upcoming food expo was key to making that happen.” But then Denmark’s prime minister came on television to announce that the country would be heading into lockdown, and business ground to a halt overnight. “We had just announced a massive investment the very same day,” Paasch recalls. “Now, we had no way of getting our products to market. It was hard to see how the business could continue at all.”
But Paasch wasn’t ready to give up yet.
An idea came to him while watching a cooking segment on Good Morning America. “I thought to myself, okay we can’t meet customers at fairs but we can make cooking demonstrations and live stream directly to them,” he says. Paasch set to work producing a series of live streams for prospective clients, each of which received product samples through the mail so they could cook and nosh along with the host. The videos were an immediate hit. “We then trained Easyfood’s salespeople how to make their own digital content and reach customers that way too,” Paasch explains. “While other companies laid off salespeople during COVID-19, we learned how to work in an entirely new way and thus grew our workforce by about 30% instead.”
The company posted this content on YouTube and amplified it using several social media platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Easyfood also moved the rest of its sales interactions into the digital realm with video conference applications like Microsoft Teams and Skype. The company then upgraded its Umbraco-powered website to allow customers to safely order online and collect products “touch-free.” Now, guided by data it collected from Google Analytics, Paasch’s team is working to enhance its online presence further with a new website set to be unveiled in early 2022.
The pandemic initially drove Easyfood’s sales down by 80% and cut its total revenue by almost 20%. But the company quickly recovered and is now back on an even stronger growth trajectory than before. While the company’s shift online marked a swift and radical departure from its previous recipe for success, it worked—and Paasch has no appetite to go back.
“The digital content was not only cheaper and more efficient for our company to produce, but also more popular and impactful with prospective customers,” says Paasch, who notes that his team now often hosts online meetings with prospects first rather than simply sending salespeople to customer meetings or expositions like before. “Many of our customers were so impressed that they started asking how they could use social media to promote Easyfood products themselves. We showed them how and they became our newest sales ambassadors.”
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