“Brands must enter conversations in a relevant way or they will be ignored” – Época Negócios

Álvaro Garcia heads marketing at Mondelez (Photo: Disclosure)

Ahead of Easter 2020, a lockdown was declared in Brazil as a measure to contain the Covid-19 epidemic spreading across the country. A tragedy for chocolate egg manufacturers, who have seen the public disappear from the outlets.

brand owner lactate, Mondelez launched a war operation and in three days managed to launch a website to sell its products online. Currently, e-commerce represents 6% of revenue and is expected to reach 10% next year.

The Easter challenge 2020 has been won; the new thing is to increase the Brazilian snack market, points out CMO Mondelez, Alvaro Garcia. With a 25-year career and engagements in large companies such as Grupo Boticário and Diageo, he took over the marketing of the company in the same fateful year of the start of the pandemic.

With a portfolio of brands that are part of the daily lives of Brazilians – Bis, Trident, Halls, Club Social, Oreo, Tang, among others – Mondelez has adopted the global purpose of offering the right snack, made the right way and at the right time. , replacing traditional product-centric marketing with a more individualized, consumer-centric approach: “human.”

In this interview BUSINESS seasonÁlvaro Garcia explains what humanity is, how the company has worked to materialize this consumer-centric approach, and the role of technology in making it all a reality.

What are the main challenges for innovation in a mass consumption segment such as snacks?

We are leaders in several categories in which we operate. Our challenge is not to gain more market share, but to grow the market. To create a market, there is no point in repeating what you have already done, you have to innovate, look ahead. We’re working a lot on product innovation – we’ve recently launched a few, such as soft sweets from Bubbaloo and Sonho de Valsa and Ouro Branco on waffle sticks. We are launching Tang to mix with milk.

We have innovations in brand building and communication. We have a lot of partnerships with big media companies – Google, Meta, Twitter, TikTok. We asked what is most different about them, what is the new technology, what is the new idea. We experience a lot.

We also have business model innovations. For example, the field of e-commerce did not exist five years ago. We created a startup within Mondelez and gave the team the freedom to develop the e-commerce operation. Today it is an area that represents 6% of the business, with predictions that it will reach 10% next year. It grew by leaps and bounds and we created a completely different business model.

Consumer orientation is the key word today. Is it possible to do this when working with high consumption products?

At Mondelez, we say that we no longer have to deal with marketing, we have to deal with humanity. There are two great concepts behind it: conversations that are increasingly individualized and thinking about people in a broader way, understanding their habits, preferences, what they do every day, their shopping journeys.

How does it work in practice?

We worked on less general and more individualized campaigns. Today, 40% of digital investment is in what we call “compassion at scale” campaigns. We take microgroups, understand what these people want and create a campaign, a brand message for that microgroup.

An example is the action we took for Tang in partnership with Google. The brand is about parenthood, that children’s future is not ready and that Tang helps build their future. I used Google to find out what are the main concerns about raising children and what are the profiles of parents today.

We came up with 20 different profiles and the 20, 30 most common questions that appeared in the searches. From there, we created hundreds of communication pieces, which were distributed by user profile and question.

We did this for all brands, trying to individualize conversations. This is a big change in brand planning. It is no longer possible to think about a general group, a market. You have to think about the individual and how to create, how to assemble the marketing team to work in this way. And sign partnerships so you have the tools to do it automatically – because you can’t do it manually.

Speaking of automation, what role does technology play in marketing today?

That is fundamental. If you want to individualize your relationship with consumers, you need technology to help you understand them, seek insights and translate that into individualized campaigns. It also has to do with faster and faster decision-making, measuring results.

Technology has entered marketing and everyone needs to know something. At least understand how to get the best result out of it. We did a great job coaching the team.

We partnered with an agency specialized in e-commerce and digital business. We work very closely with big players like Google and Meta. We use their technology a lot to make plans, to make decisions. It has truly become a marketing discipline.

Why is marketing undergoing this transformation, in such different market segments?

Consumers today have power like never before. They communicate with brands, speak, comment. This completely changes people’s attitude towards brands. They either catch up and enter conversations in a relevant way or they will be ignored. This has forced companies to rethink the way they do marketing.

We try to connect our brands within the culture, within what people like, but not in a forced way. Trident, for example, is a super young brand, and young people today really like games. How do you enter this universe without being invasive?

We worked with gaming experts to create Gang of Trident. We invite the big player to join us live from the small player, the beginner. That player who has thousands of followers suddenly barges into the life of someone playing Freefire or Fortnite and plays with them. Maleni, overnight, gets thousands of followers. This became a success. This is an example of how to place the content naturally or as naturally as possible in the context.

This process is extremely dynamic. How can I be “on” all the time?

We need to give more freedom to experiment. If we take the communication strategy of each of the brands, they are completely different. We have Bubbaloo, who works with an audience of 13, 14 years old. These kids are not on TV, not even on Instagram. They’re on TikTok. So, all Bubbaloo brand building takes place through TikTok influencers.

We don’t have traditional Bubbaloo marketing. We sit with influencers, play challenges, talk to them, they come up with topics. We gave them enormous freedom in working with the brand. But it’s for Bubbaloo, it works for that audience. Very different from Tang’s or Trident’s work. We try to experiment and do different things, otherwise we won’t be able to follow what’s going on.

TikTok is the network of the moment, but isn’t it the same for other social networks?

For that we have Snack Talks, a model we designed for interacting with social networks. They are creative people who communicate by generating conversations and entering into those that are happening. There are 25 people who look after all our social media brands, both creating content and responding to questions and comments. If there is a conversation about the Oscars or the draw of the World Cup, they enter it from the brand’s point of view, joke, comment, communicate with other profiles.

A very present topic today is purpose. How does this question fit into the company’s strategy and how can you make sure it doesn’t look like “social washing”?

We have two levels of purpose. First, there is Mondelez as a whole, which needs to empower people to get snacks right, delivering the right bite, made the right way, at the right time. This has many meanings.

Done right is about sustainability, with high product quality, with the way the production chain is built. At the right time, it means understanding the consumer journey, being present at many points of sale. All of this permeates all brands, but each brand has its own purpose.

What we want to do is bring to life a brand purpose connected to something that is a consumer passion. For example, the purpose of Oreo is to encourage people to keep playing, especially parents with their children. What better way to remind parents to play with their kids? Remind them how good it was to be a child.

We started looking for something that would touch the hearts of parents and we arrived at Castle Ra-Tim-Bum. We made a production with some of the original actors, we reconstructed the script on TV Cultura, we invited a good number of producers, puppeteers and professionals who worked on the program. It was a super exciting meeting where we talked about Oreo, Pure Purpose connected with consumer passion.

But the products you sell are not considered healthy. What is the purpose in this case?

In order to offer the right snack at the right time, the principle is this: there is a right time for everything. There is a good time to eat a sweet snack, healthier, whole grain. Sometimes you want to eat a small portion, just to sweeten your mouth, and sometimes you want to open a chocolate bar at home, after work, saying “I deserve to enjoy this”. The idea is to offer a complete portfolio so that people can choose according to the occasion and ensure that they are well informed about what they are consuming.

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