Expert Interview: Beatrice Berutti, Cadbury–Boosting FMCG Brand Impact

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For decades the leading lights of the FMCG sector flourished with a focus on efficiency, scalability and product development. However, even FMCG giants with much-loved brands in their portfolio face challenges and need to be ready to respond to disruptive trends which challenge the status quo.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to McKinsey & Company, three disruptive trends in particular have gained strength due to the global pandemic including increased digital engagement with brands, higher consideration of value vs price and growth of online retail.

In this exclusive interview, Beatrice Berutti, Platform and Equity Lead at Cadbury UK expands on how FMCG companies can adapt to those disruptive trends, how COVID-19 shaped Cadbury’s marketing strategy and what smaller brands can do to make an impact.

How has your company and your department responded to the challenges of the Covid era?

In uncertain times, consumers seek out brands they know and love that deliver on familiarity and taste, which makes category-leading brands such as Cadbury so important.

Since the start of the pandemic, people’s lives have been completely disrupted, having a knock-on impact on the way they shop, consume media and travel.

Formats such as tablets and multi-packs have become increasingly important as shoppers look for convenient treats that they can enjoy at home whilst the impulse occasion took a big hit during lockdown as people didn’t commute or spend that much time outside their home.

More time spent at home also meant a rapid increase in e-commerce and in the use of digital channels in general, whilst media like OOH or even in-store became less relevant for a period of time.

Maintaining a positive relationship with customers and closely monitoring consumers changing habits have helped us keep Cadbury the Nation’s favourite chocolate.

Can you give examples of how your company has innovated to maintain/enhance its brand and the visibility/awareness of existing products?

We always try to look for ways to innovate and grow the brand and a couple of years ago we decided it was the right time to reposition Cadbury from joy to generosity.

Our new global brand positioning focusses on those small moments of authentic human generosity that, although often overlooked, are happening all around us.

As a brand which has been bringing enjoyment to people for over a hundred years, we see this as an opportunity to reconnect with the nation and inspire generosity in everyone.

The new positioning also meant that we had to put our money where our mouth is.  To bring our new purpose to life, we’ve partnered with Age UK to shine a light on older people’s loneliness: we launched the ‘Donate Your Words’ campaign in September 2019 by donating the words from our iconic Cadbury Dairy Milk bars to help the 225,000 older people who often go a week without speaking to anyone.

The campaign encouraged the nation to donate their words by having a chat with an older person to help eradicate loneliness amongst this generation.

The partnership continued over the last year, with numerous initiatives, including our 2020 campaign called ‘The Originals’ and featuring the late Captain Sir Tom Moore. The campaign highlighted that older people are not passive victims - they just suffer from an image problem.

The film features real older people telling their own incredible real stories, to encourage the nation to go out and again donate their words, because who knows what words they’ll get back. 

When considering the launch of new products or entering a new market, what are the key considerations for FMCG brands?

There are always four main elements to be considered when launching an NPD or entering a new market: consumers, competitors, customers and company.

The first thing is to identify if there is a market gap and if that gap is due to an unmet need. Then, how this identified opportunity fits with the customers’ needs and priorities. Last but certainly not least, how the product/initiative fits with the company’s priorities and strategy.

Is there anything that larger FMCG brands can learn from smaller FMCG brands, and vice versa?

Smaller FMCG have the possibility to be very close to the market, quickly react to trends and challenges in a very agile way.

This enables them to be bold when it comes to innovations and activations. Smaller budgets also mean hyper optimization of marketing campaigns.

Finally, new, challenger brands are often created based on insights that are relevant for people today: sustainability, plant based and diversity & inclusion are big trends that are becoming more and more important, especially for younger generations.

Bigger brands have often been in the market for a long time and need to adapt their existing positioning to continue to be relevant: some brands have done it extremely well (e.g. Dove and Cadbury), but others are struggling.

Larger FMCGs have the advantage of scale and resources as well as rely on established relationships with customers; leveraging customers’ priorities as part of our own strategies allow for enhanced in-store visibility and more focus from retailers.

In what ways can digital marketing and traditional/offline marketing complement each-other in FMCG?

Traditional marketing is often about scale: it requires big budgets, and it allows only a certain degree of targeting. Digital marketing allows for a more efficient use of limited budgets through very precise targeting, personalization at scale and data acquisition.

When launching NPDs with mass appeal, balancing traditional and digital media allows us to optimize both reach and frequency, maximizing ROI. With more niche NPDs, often digital is preferred to better optimize resources and only target people who are more likely to be receptive to the new proposition.

What campaigns are you most proud of from the past year? What other FMCG marketing campaigns/initiatives have you been most impressed by?

The Originals campaign for Cadbury Dairy Milk was one of my highlights from last year, whilst this year I’m very proud of the new ‘Just Ask An Aussie’ campaign that recently went live to support the launch of Cadbury Caramilk.

When I look at other FMGCs, I’m always impressed when brands put purpose first.

I loved the launch of Degree’s deodorant designed for people with disabilities: true to their commitment to giving millions of people the confidence to move more, the brand has collaborated with consumers with disabilities and a diverse group of experts to come up with a concept deodorant that makes application easier, resulting in the world’s first adaptive deodorant.

I also really liked Corona’s collaboration with Parley for the Oceans where they placed recycling machines throughout various locations in South America and Southern Europe entitling the donor a free beer in exchange for plastic bottles.

What made it even more effective was that Corona released a limited-edition pack and committed to cleaning one square meter of beach for every purchase made. This allowed the brand to boost awareness, drive trial and help save the oceans.

What's the best advice you received in your career so far?

Always start from your consumers! A really good marketeer once told me he didn’t allow people to have marketing opinions until they’d spoken to at least 10 consumers!

I’ve been living by this advice throughout my career and used it to inform strategy work, long term innovation planning and disruptive NPDs.

Summing Up

Cadbury proves that FMCG giants aren’t complacent and proactively create purpose-driven marketing strategies to evolve with the external trends, customers and competitors.

As described by Beatrice, digital marketing has a key role to play and increasingly adds extra firepower for FMCG brands when it comes to targeting, personalisation and data acquisition.

New products and innovative campaigns in particular benefit from effective, data-driven digital marketing strategies as they can accurately target specific audiences and most importantly reach the right customers at the right time.

Confectionary brands face a lot of competition, and to influence a buying decision, creativity, authenticity and connection with consumers is key.

Looking for inspiration within the category and beyond, keeps ideas fresh and, can inform effective – and meaningful – campaigns that win the attention of potentially more demanding generations of customers. 

At ICS-digital, we work at scale across creative content, localisation and digital PR across dozens of languages – for FMCG start-ups and global brands alike, we’re always ready to discuss digital marketing and international brand-building.

To learn more, or to contribute to future industry discussions, get in touch.