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The innovation strategy of Edenred to conquer new markets

At the International Marketing Trends Conference in Venice, Damien Joannes of Edenred explained the strategy of his group to diversify its activities and conquer market shares. The key seemed to be in proposing services tailored to evolving needs of businesses.

The story starts with the Ticket Restaurant

The story started in 1962 with the invention of the ticket restaurant in France. From 1976 until a period of geographical expansion followed and from 2000 until 2010 the product range was broadened and diversified. In 2010 the company was renamed Edenred. In 2013 the company had 38 million beneficiaries and 610000 clients.

Two innovative services in USA and in Italy

Damien explained the business cases behind ExpendiaSmart in Italy and Nutrisavings in USA, two of the newest services of Edenred.

With permission of Damien you’ll find his presentation below as well as videos of those two products.


Nutrisavings is specially tailored for the American market where employees are insured via their employers. The idea is to give incentives to employees to control what they eat, acquire a discipline, and reduce the risks linked to bad eating habits. The employer in turn can use the data to reduce the risk premium charged by the health insurance and has –in theory- more productive employees.

ExpendiaSmart is another clever service deployed on the Italian market that targets SMEs. As you may know Italy has the particularity to have a very dense network of SME (and especially family-owned SMEs) that don’t have the infrastructure of bigger companies to manage and control expenses. ExpendiaSmart allows them to offer to their employees a payment method that is limited to those expenses that are fiscally acceptable (meals, gas, travel costs) and a solution to visualize and control those expenses.

Big Brother effect ?

While ExpendiaSmart is a pretty “straightforward” in terms of idea (I don’t doubt it’s complicated to realize IT-wide) and shouldn’t face problem to be accepted by employees, NutriSavings is more subject to debate. This service requires indeed that the employee provide a lot of private details on him/herself which will be stored, monitored and correlated with what he/she’ll buy to eat. Although Damien explained the data will be stored by a third-party provider and the company won’t be able to access it, the audience felt like there was a “Big Brother effect”.

I’m not here to judge. Eventually it’s the market that will have the last word.

Advice for your marketing strategy

We could debate whether or not those business ideas will be breakthrough businesses. This is not my point here.

What is interesting is to observe how a company could reinvent itself. It started with a simple idea and one business (ticket restaurant) and what we can see today is that all the infrastructure built over the years has been turned into a valuable asset to leverage other needs. It confirms what we said in an earlier article about old companies which died : if you don’t innovate and reinvent yourself continuously the odds are higher that you will not survive.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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