CMO50 2020 #26-50: Martin Brown

  • Name Martin Brown
  • Title Director – eBusiness, strategy and marketing, Nestlé Oceania
  • Company Nestle Australia
  • Commenced role
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 8 direct reports; 110 staff
  • Industry Sector CPG - Food & Beverages
  • 2019 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    For Martin Brown, the effect of COVID-19 has been to accelerate many existing trends, creating a fluid context that marketers needed to adapt to. "Our marketing team learned to lift speed, test and learn and trial new techniques previously discounted. It’s been a period of great learning,” said Brown.

    Looking ahead, the challenge is staying curious and being committed to building relevance in the brand’s product delivery and ability to connect. “Our brands have made gains as consumption has increased in home. To build on these gains, we’re committed to leveraging personalisation at scale and continuous product improvement,” he explained.

    “Curiosity is essential to identify the unconscious needs - what consumers want, but can’t tell you. Embracing technology to underpin personalised solutions is key, so marketers need to build their knowledge to make the connections between capability and needs.”

    “And building a network of partners across industries to maintain a dialogue of learning. We can learn a lot from each other and this is an amazing time of change.”

    Marketing effectiveness

    “As I moved into this role two years ago, my mandate was to inspire and drive a consumer growth agenda. My first challenge was to increase the Oceania marketing teams’ bravery in relating to Millennial Australians. Our initial focus was on higher impact brand communications, high engagement experiential marketing and grounding our brands in clear purpose,” Brown said.

    The communications strategy was to deliver foundations through personalisation at scale (long-term brand building) and fire with brave communications to create talkability (short-term brand building). A key brand in this transformation has been KIT KAT. “Foundations were established with our Katapult TVC – dramatising an everyday frustration of assembling flat pack furniture. This locally made TVC delivered an exceptional Milward Brown enjoyment score of 83 per cent vs norm of 61 per cent and involvement score of 7.07 vs norm of 4.92,” he said.

    Raising the bar on innovation to drive incremental penetration is critical for long-term growth. In May 2020, the brand launched liquid caramel four-finger KIT KAT, unlocking a new platform of growth. “We launched the KIT KAT Bunny for Easter opening a whole new season for KIT KAT,” he added.
    “I launched the first KIT KAT Chocolatory outside of Japan in 2015 in Melbourne. The concept was further optimised for the launch of our Sydney KIT KAT Chocolatory, a unique brand experience to bring personalisation and customisation of handmade KIT KAT and the opportunity to discover KIT KAT from around the world. The new Sydney store opened in July.”

    For the brand, a key to Millennial engagement is to ground the brand in purpose. The stresses on Australians during COVID saw it develop a partnership with RUOK to encourage the conversations that can change a life. “This long-term partnership will be annual event to keep our focus on enhancing lives, one conversation and KIT KAT at a time,” he said.

    Influencing change

    To accelerate the marketing transformation and eBusiness growth, Brown took leadership of both being driven by data, media, content and technology. “I kicked off the transformation bringing the global eBusiness team to Sydney in early 2019 for a week-long event to build the commercial team capability and passion,” he explained.

    During this time, each major brand developed an integrated eBusiness plan focusing on accelerating the development of audience strategies, integrating the collection of data, programmatic activation and personalised content. It also involved developing ecommerce and direct-to-consumer platforms through seamless consumer experiences that deliver frictionless conversions. It also saw a step-change in its content operating model, adaptation effectiveness and delivery.

    “I built our eBusiness team with capability to focus on ecommerce, direct to consumer and digital technology. McKinsey advises we have had 10 years of penetration gain during COVID-19 for online shopping, demanding we innovated to capture market share gain during this rapid growth,” he said.

    Some of most effective market leading initiatives have been the Coffee House in Coles, which delivered 81 per cent growth in sales for July 2020 at launch for the portfolio; Nestlé Quick Shop in Woolworths online with clickthrough rate of 9.7 per cent vs average of 5.5 per cent; leveraging rich marketing content on the Nescafé and Starbucks Amazon landing pages, delivering 360 per cent growth and becoming the fastest growing Amazon business globally for Nestlé in 2020; establishing the direct to consumer NestléBaby webshop to supply infant formula directly to mothers. In March 2020, NestléBaby sales equalled 2019 full year sales, providing a guarantee of supply for an essential product category.

    Data-led marketing

    The coffee portfolio has iconic brands including Nescafé, Starbucks and Nespresso. The development of this portfolio to enable the company to unlock the potential of each brand in the new world of coffee demands a high level of orchestration. “With one of the most sophisticated coffee markets in the world, my team in Australia was chosen for the world-first launch of Nescafé Farmers Origins in September 2020,” Brown said.

    This presented a new level of challenge in portfolio orchestration. With three brands competing in the same format, the business needed to get granular with data to define clearly specific audience strategies to minimise waste, cannibalisation and ensure incrementality. “The objective was for each brand to grow in share. Our media agency UM played a key role supporting the clear orchestration through a deep dive into our coffee portfolio data,” he said.

    “We leveraged our significant first-party data base on Nespresso and Starbucks to define custom audiences for each brand. We leveraged this down to suburb specific geo-targeting to optimise targeting in outdoor, path to purchase and direct sampling activations. Nespresso and Starbucks campaigns are live with exceptional growth in both brands leading to our Nescafé Farmers origin launch in September.”

    CX capability

    To engage the marketing teams in developing braver and more effective communications, the team introduced the foundations and fire principles for communications planning. Foundations through personalisation at scale (long-term brand building) and fire, brave communications to create talkability (short-term brand building). “To bring this to life, I engaged our marketing leadership team to build specialisation in its brand manager roles. We split out communications leads and innovation leads, focusing training on the specialist knowledge they needed. The communication leads community have become essential to lifting the quality and bravery of our brand communications,” Brown said.

    The business entered communication briefings for 2020, launched its Fire Festival of Communication, bringing the marketing teams across Oceania to a Sydney event. “To lift the bravery level, we brought in Kristi Woolrych to present KFC’s creative strategy and output. Mark Ritson and the Google head of creative set the bar for the teams in brave, impactful and highly branded communications. The benefit of engaging all brand teams, creative agencies, media agency and media partners with one message at the start of the process was a major lift in openness to test and learn, stronger brand coding in our creative and more challenging creative ideas coming from our agencies,” he said.

    Commercial acumen

    Nestlé’s coffee portfolio is broad and demands orchestration in strategy and brand marketing to work collectively to win in the new world of coffee. Following three years of decline, it was essential to relaunch Nescafé Blend 43 with boosted coffee credentials, emphasising what loyalists loved, whilst adding a key benefit brand switchers were seeking. Extensive product testing led to a product upgrade, treating the Arabica beans with light roasting and Robusta beans with dark roasting to bring out their best characteristics, delivering a cup that is both bold and smooth.

    “The first moment of truth in CPG products is packaging and we lifted the coffee credentials on all Nescafé Blend 43 packaging, upgrading all tins to lithographic printing and launched limited edition designs to celebrate our 100 per cent sustainable coffee promise,” he said.

    Another innovation, plant-based milk innovation, is critical to Millennial penetration gain. The acceleration of this innovation delivered a first to market launch of Nescafé Mixes with Oat, Almond and Oat milk. Relative to powerhouse Starbucks markets, Starbucks has only 54 cafes in Australia. Brown launched Starbucks by Nespresso in September 2019 it is now the number one Nespresso compatible brand in Coles and has four of the top 10 SKU’s nationally. “I have extended the brand into instant coffee, cappuccino mixes and roast and ground,” he said.

    “This orchestrated coffee marketing plan has driven Nestlé back into market share leadership in coffee in 2020, a key business objective central to our long term strategy.”

    COVID-19 innovation

    Nestlé’s campaigns that were developed pre-COVID became immediately redundant as the crisis changed people’s engagement with food brands. “My first initiative was to mobilise our consumer insights team to engage in a weekly cycle of household interviewing to get our own read on the changing sentiment and behaviour as households adapted to this crisis. Our strategy had three phases: reassure, provide utility and normalise,” Brown explained.

    “I ran campaigns of user generated content by experienced and passionate Maggi home cooks sharing their best recipes helping households having to cook at home more than ever before. We also struck a media partnership with Masterchef that included a Masterchef challenge of pimping noodles featuring Maggi 2 Minute noodles. We ran out of noodles, otherwise this would be a record year for Maggi 2 Minute noodles,” he said.
    “We also recognised that pets had become a very important source of comfort and developed a campaign for Purina pet owners providing support as pets also struggled with the changes of COVID-19.”

    “And recognising that kids were not out exercising, the brand formed a partnership with Mammamia to feature some of Australia’s most famous sports stars running Saturday morning exercise programs for kids online. “And as we understood Milo was being pantry stocked as a source of comfort, we doubled down on why we love Milo - the great taste. We created a campaign to vote for your favourite way of drinking MILO, hot or cold. This influencer fuelled debate generated great brand interaction across some of Australia’s largest brands.”

    As live sport was no longer available to watch, the brand also connected with its heartland Nescafé Blend 43 drinkers to help normalise this loss through humour. “We partnered with Foxtel to feature two famous Rugby league legends enjoying their favourite coffee whilst finding ways to get over the lack of live sport to watch,” Brown explained.

    There were also many more campaigns generated across ALLENS, Nescafé Gold, Starbucks, Nescafé Dolce Gusto, Uncle Tobys, Optifast, Sustagen, Soothers and more. “We leveraged the Content Studio, our Consumer Insights team and our brilliant media partners to rapidly develop and continuously evolve our content. This rapid test and learn experience has fundamentally changed our marketing culture and capability,” he said.

    Cross-functional collaboration

    In early 2019, while developing the long-term growth strategy for Nestlé Oceania, Brown’s analysis showed we needed a new approach to appealing to Millennial consumers. Nestlé’s penetration in this cohort was materially lower than prior generations and represented the largest risk to our future growth. Millennial consumers were choosing challenger brands with purpose lead brand promises, more authentic product delivery and disruptive packaging.

    Brown initiated a companywide Innovation Expo, sourcing leading edge products in every category the brand participated in and some fast-emerging categories from the UK, US, China and Japan. “The Innovation Expo was set up in our head office garage, transforming it into a garage skunkworks and all employees were invited from our head office to visit it. Packaging and ingredients suppliers and technology and media partners were invited to place stands in the Expo,” he said.

    Brown kicked off eight-week innovation sprints in every category to develop concepts, rapid prototype, consumer speed date and recycle. Every business unit sprint team was made up with full cross-functional representation – technologists, consumer insights, finance, sales, procurement and marketing. “These intense innovation sprints yielded our highest performing assortment of top two box purchase intent concepts. It also raised the bar for renovation of our existing core portfolio,” he said.

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