How Nestlé developed its personalisation at scale strategy

The brand has developed a range of new campaigns to target audiences through digital platforms as part of its personalisation strategy

A handful of years ago, Nestlé relied largely on TV advertising, a medium offering strong brand messaging to a broad audience. But as people have migrated to digital and social platforms, the brand has followed suit.

Now, with new platforms that deliver a more nuanced approach to messaging, Nestlé has been enabled to target audience segments at scale. And with COVID-19 accelerating digital engagement, the FMCG giant has been well positioned to lean further into this when the crisis hit.

“It's an exciting opportunity with these new emerging platforms to understand what role our brand plays in that and it’s accelerated with Covid in the last eight months,” Nestlé head of media, content and data, Antonia Farquhar, told CMO.

It’s been a busy year for the brand with a host of new initiatives in market, all developed with its agency partner Connecting Plots. One of these was releasing designing fit-for-channel digital campaigns to engage with targeted audience demographics, including the recent launch of a KitKat campaign on Twitch targeting gaming audiences - a first for Nestlé. 

“The younger audiences, 16 to 39-year olds, can be hard to find on traditional platforms,” Farquhar said. “Our KitKat campaign on Twitch, which is the main gaming platform, is a new type of campaign, and one we’ll continue to develop."

The ad’s message was about taking a break, something that can be overlooked by gamers, which felt right for the KitKat brand. “We also keep in mind how we can add value back to the platform, so you are standing out for the right reasons,” Farquhar said.

Another example of the more targeted digital marketing approach is Nestlé's influencer-led campaign for Milo cereal run through TikTok. The campaign was designed to encourage activity and sport among young adults during lockdown - executed at a time when production was on pause due to the same lockdown. Farquhar said the TikTok campaign as right for the moment when people were looking to be entertained.

“We did a call out to all Aussies to get involved with the Milo challenge. And it generated millions of views,” she said.

Coping with Covid

During the COVID-19 crisis, Nestlé has created timely, empathic work that used new creative processes to compensate for social distancing production restrictions. “We were constantly measuring consumer sentiment, which allowed us to have a good gauge on what was happening and how people were feeling. And then adapt our communications to reflect that,” Farquhar said.

One example is its Allens lollies social campaign, shot entirely in stop motion during the height of lockdown. The creative cheerfully satired several of the new social norms we were all encountering.

“It was timely and empathetic to the social distancing restrictions that were in place,” Farquhar explained.
“We quite cheerfully satired some of the new social norms, one around a dance challenge with your parents at home, and another one about changing your remote call background." 

Results revealed a strong, favourable reaction to these messages with strong ad recall and love around the brand. 

Nestlé has also evolved its audience segmentation strategy through a more sophisticated data-led approach that moves beyond demographics into niche audience driven insights. Using this approach, the brand leveraged the 'Enjoy the moment' platform to create specific tailored campaign executions targeted only to the audience segment for which it was designed.

In the last two years, the brand has moved towards a strong personalisation approach built around the marketing method of reaching the right audience at the right time with the right message.

“We've seen some clear results in terms of being more relevant to the audience we’re talking to, we’ve seen clear increases in ad recall and more efficiency with audiences versus broad demographics and sales uplift,” Farquhar said. “So it's not just brand health, and making more impact, but it actually flows through to sales.”

Leaning into personalisation

These new ways of working across the brand’s portfolio, as well as matching products with messaging with platform and audience, are continuing to be developed. “From the results through personalising with empathy for the different audiences, we've seen clear improvements in brand health, cost efficiencies and sales,” Farquhar noted. “So that personalisation at scale strategy is absolutely what will go forward with.”

As the communication landscape continues to progress, it means the brand will need to invest more time and energy in understanding behaviours, especially in digital and social platforms, that are emerging. Then it’s about working out the role for the various brands within those channels so that they can effectively stand out.

“Digital is a critical channel for us now,” Farquhar said. “We can't go back to the previous way of working, this is the new way of working for us, being more adaptive and responsive to what's happening. It just makes our brand fit so much better into what's happening."

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