CMO interview: Balancing brand nostalgia with category innovation at Mondelez

Director of marketing for the snacking giant's chocolate portfolio including Cadbury's shares the media test-and-learn, innovative thinking and brand strategy lying at the heart of its growth strategy

Paul Chatfield
Paul Chatfield


Category innovation and progressive thinking lie at the heart of the Mondelez International business model, its director of marketing for chocolate, Paul Chatfield, says. But at a time when consumers seek emotional brand connections more than ever, no brand can afford to abandon its heritage or roots.

Which is why this experienced FMCG marketer was so keen on a global brand platform launch in March that brought back Cadbury’s iconic tagline, ‘there’s a glass and a half in everyone’. It’s a significant move away from the ‘free the joy’ communications from Cadbury over recent years but a closer step towards the consumer, he says.

“That shift takes us back to the beating heart of the Cadbury brand and when it’s been at its best for the last 100 years in A/NZ, which is a strong position in families, in sharing, in human connection and generosity, all anchored in our Dairy Milk product,” Chatfield tells CMO. “‘Glass and a half’ is one of our most iconic brand benefits historically.

“What motivated us to go back to our roots is communicating with the consumer base in a way that truly resonates with them. We’re returning to where our brand was at its absolute strongest. More than ever, connectivity and being the river of shared moments has been a key standout for our Cadbury brand. It’s a logical and necessary step to go into that place.”

Demonstrating legitimacy and credibility is arguably even more important at a time where consumers are experiencing lots of change. “There are lots of new brands out there that don’t have the heritage or stand for a lot either,” Chatfield says.

“When you have such iconic brands with levels of trust, connection, love and equity, building on where you have been and how Australians and Kiwis see you can only be of benefit. It’s strengthening in a world where there is increasing concern and a questioning of who I can trust.”

Market strategy

This desire to be closer to consumers saw Mondelez evolve its organisational structure in September and bring the “centre of gravity closer to where consumers are”, Chatfield says. The organisation has moved away from global/regional category structure in favour of regional clusters, with the large bulk of business development and ownership occurring in market and marketing become a more end-to-end pursuit.

“For us, it’s an evolution towards agility and a growth-based model, driving brand preference, strengthening equity and achieving great outcomes versus just purely driving P&L,” he says. “That’s still a critical part of what we do, but it’s evolved to become brand-led and something achieved by being closer to consumers.”  

It was also at this time Mondelez promoted Chatfield from category leader to director of marketing for the chocolate portfolio, including Cadbury Dairy Milk, Roses and Marvellous Creations as well as Milka, Lacta, Toblerone and Cote D’Or. The promotion came six years into his company tenure, and after 18 years in the FMCG space.

Being closer to consumers isn’t just being reflected in the communications strategy. Mondelez is also rethinking the way its product portfolio is put together and how each snacking product relates to a consumer need at any given moment in time.

In November, the group announced SnackFutures, an innovation division aimed at identifying and responding to emerging snacking needs. Work is focused on three areas: Well-being snacks, digital platforms and premium snacks. The company will tap both internal talent as well as the entrepreneurial community to drive innovation.

“Today we’re strong as category innovators, and tomorrow you’ll see a continuation and strengthening of that, as well as see us take a broader position on snacking,” Chatfield says. “Organisationally, we’re moving from strict category approach to a more joined up, holistic snacking business. It’s about how we address the current and emerging snacking needs of consumers globally.”

Work is supported by major investments into snacking occasion research. As a marketing team, the strategy then becomes about understanding where new and emerging products fit against the diverse range of consumer needs at any given moment in time, Chatfield says.

“For instance, Cadbury is about chocolate; it’s always going to sit on the indulgent end of snacking choices and there will always be a role for that. There’s also a role for more wholesome snacks coming out of our biscuits or savoury portfolios,” he continues.

Another example from Chatfield of how Mondelez is becoming more customer-centric is building stronger environmental conscience into the product range. One example is Cocoa Life, a $500 million sustainability program working directly with cocoa farmers and a series of partners, such as Fair Trade, to have a direct impact on the ground. It led Mondelez this year to put Cocoa Life on all its Dairy Milk packaging.

In addition, Mondelez recently announced all paper-based packaging will be made from recyclable materials by 2020 and by 2025, it’ll all be recyclable.

“We’ve also recently challenge suppliers on the sustainability of palm oil. These are public commitments by the organisation and it’s about making our snacks in the right way,” Chatfield adds.

Up next: How Mondelez is transforming its media approach, plus the rise of new partnerships

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