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Best Management Company Concept: In the Zone

Best Management Company Concept: In the Zone


In the Zone, a comprehensive toolkit for retail outlet managers at Sodexo-operated sites, utilizes sophisticated consumer research data to help users maximize their financials.

The concept was disseminated for an initial investment of $600,000 in March 2014 to Sodexo’s 2,114 cafés on college campuses and in hospitals and business locations, then supplemented by an update and the ITZ Retail Ranger app in October 2014.

The In the Zone toolkit includes planograms, proprietary merchandisers, a sophisticated pricing calculator, a mobile app, tracking tools and training materials. They are available in printed form and also posted on a Sodexo intranet site and help managers put the right product in the right place at the right price.

Photo: Sodexo


In the Zone is supported by trimester promotions for four categories—snacking, take away and hot and cold beverages. The cold beverage promotions focusing on innovative new products, while snack promotions center on the three basic reasons for snacking: to have a treat, to re-energize and to take a break. Vendors recommend products, which are promoted and supported by additional marketing materials

The initial implementation at the unit level drove café revenues up 12 percent on average, with a sales growth of at least $30,000 per location. The fall update saw the average unit volume increase by an additional 11 percent, and transactions increase by 17 percent.

In the Zone was originally conceived after research and vendor information showed that Sodexo’s sales in cold beverages, snacking and take away were not performing at the anticipated level. Further, consumer surveys revealed that they were not even aware that snacks were available in the cafés.

In the Zone took everything Sodexo knew about the millions of consumers served every day—insights about what, when and how often people buy, sales data and industry trends—and used it to bring cross-divisional innovation to its retail business, satisfy consumers and drive sales.

Targeted to grow sales with consumers ages 18 and above, In the Zone applied the data and insights to all retail platforms and identified consumers’ favorite brands and products, as well as those that were about to become popular. The company then created a blueprint for each category that could be followed by any location, regardless of size or consumer type.


John Wright, senior vice president, offer development
Heidi Hastings, senior director, brand management
Rick Ortman, senior director, consumer insight
Tim Ripley, senior director of design and development
Lynn Browning, director of design and development
Courtney Cannon, senior designer
Frank Costantino, director of design and development
Duane Gebo, senior brand manager
Cheri Guilbault, senior writer
Dan Mueller, director of supply management
Diego Raso, director of design and development

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