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Nestlé CMO Addresses Consumer Demand For Sustainable Foods

Source:Forbes

As more and more consumers seek to live a more sustainable lifestyle, accessibility and affordability become key drivers in closing millions of consumer’s purpose-action gap.  In fact, assuming the flavor profile of any given food product is highly appealing many consumers will pay a small premium for foods that are easy-to-prepare and help the consumer feel better about themselves regarding “living their values.”  This is ultimately about my personal brand and the food choices I make are a key facet both in my external social media persona and in terms of how I feel about myself.

I spoke to Alicia Enciso, Chief Marketing Officer, Nestlé USA to gain insights into how their focus on these trends has evolved.

U.S. consumers want brands to prioritize sustainability, but we still see a gap between these values and consumer behavior. How is Nestlé addressing this challenge to make products that are accessible and allow consumers to live their values? 

As the largest food and beverage company in the U.S., our brands are in 97 percent of U.S. households. That means we have a broad understanding of how to engage with and reach an incredibly diverse set of consumers with evolving demands.

Many of those consumers want to purchase products that reflect their values and are good for their communities and the planet. In the last five years, sustainably-marketed products grew seven times faster than conventional products (NYU Stern). We expect this trend to continue, especially among Millennials and Gen Z—more than 62 percent of Gen Z say they prefer to buy from sustainable brands (BCG). 
Consumers are at a tipping point, and they have a lot of options. That’s why we are taking bold moves as a company and across our brands to meet their desires for sustainable choices. In doing this, our aim is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to take actions in their everyday lives on issues they care about. Ultimately, we want our consumers to understand that by simply buying our products, they are not only getting a delicious meal or beverage, they are also making a choice that is contributing to a real, sustainable impact.
This year, for the first time, all of our brands have connected with consumers on sustainability. This looks different in practice across our portfolio as each of our brands has its own unique consumer base. It’s not a one-size fits all approach and our strategies account for their differing expectations and desires for engagement on sustainability. For example, many Sweet Earth Foods® consumers are eating plant-based foods for sustainability reasons, including animal welfare and lower carbon emissions, while a DIGIORNO® consumer may be more mindful about outstanding taste and indulgence. We will always try to honor the reasons consumers choose our brands and continue to evolve with them. 

Nestlé has some ambitious goals to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. How are Nestlé brands in the U.S. taking action on that today? 

We are investing more than $3 billion globally over the next few years to accelerate our progress to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. To accomplish this, we are reimagining all aspects of our business, from the ingredients we use, to the packaging that keeps our food safe, to how we make and transport our products. Our guiding ambition is to leave the world better than we found it.

Many of our brands, including PERRIER®, Acqua Panna®, S.Pellegrino®, Nespresso®, Garden of Life® and Sweet Earth Foods®, have committed to achieving carbon neutrality in the coming years. We will be investing in a mix of renewable energy, packaging and operational improvements, and high-quality offset projects to make that happen.

We are also focusing our efforts where we have the biggest carbon footprint - our ingredients. Dairy and beef are currently our most emissions-intensive ingredients, so that’s also where we have the biggest opportunity to have an impact.  

We are proud to have been the first company to join the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Net Zero Initiative last year, which aims to help the dairy industry reach net zero emissions by 2050. Earlier this summer we announced that one of our CARNATION® farms, Trinkler Dairy Farm in Modesto, CA, would be the first farm to join the Initiative. They will pilot new technologies and sustainable farming practices to test the economic viability of achieving carbon neutrality within the next five years. This initiative will not only help us reduce emissions from dairy sourcing, which accounts for 16 percent of our carbon footprint, it will provide a blueprint to accelerate the U.S. dairy industry’s progress towards net zero and help more farms diversify revenue. For our consumers, it enables us to deliver a product that is made with high quality, fresh dairy and produced in a way that is better for the planet.

From a packaging perspective, we are using less materials and eliminating hard to recycle plastics. Consumers can enjoy the same Nestlé products they’ve always loved in packaging that keeps food safe and convenient, but with less waste. For example, DIGIORNO® removed the cardboard circle from select pizza SKUs, saving 4.5 million pounds of cardboard perennially. Additionally, by 2022, Coffee mate® and Coffee mate® natural bliss® bottles will be fully recyclable, meaning the cap, body and sleeve can be recycled together. These are just two examples of how we are making it easier for our consumers to contribute to a waste-free future. 

For consumers looking to take the extra step with reusable options, we are investing in alternative delivery systems as a founding partner of TerraCycle’s Loop™ reusable platform and we’re testing new materials to improve recyclability. NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE®, for instance, offers in-store recycling of its Bite-sized Chocolate Chip Edible Cookie Dough packaging at select retailers. In most cases, flexible film cannot be recycled at home, so store-drop-off enables recycling and reuse of the packaging as part of a consumer’s normal shopping trip. 

I know you have been working to help advance diversity and inclusion in the marketing industry. Can you give a few examples of how Nestlé is creating a culture of inclusion in its brand campaigns? 

Last year Nestlé made a conscious choice to increase our role in the industry effort to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in marketing. We are committed to using our scale as one of the largest advertisers in the U.S. to push the industry forward, and we are investing in diversity throughout the marketing ecosystem from behind-the-camera talent to creatives to the actors that appear in our campaigns. Since then, we have made this effort on each and every one of our campaigns, and we will continue to do that moving forward. 

We partner in a very hands-on way with our suppliers and vendors to craft the best approach that delivers on our advertising goals and has a positive impact on driving more diversity and equity in the industry. In practice that means diversity will look and feel different on any given campaign. For example, the LEAN CUISINE® consumer is primarily female and it was a priority for us to ensure that the production on our most recent campaign was led by women and the actors reflected a fully diverse female population. 

In our new campaign for STOUFFERS® Bowl-FULLS®, we questioned the norms for a comedy-based execution. Comedy is a historically male dominated area, even more so than other genres. We set out to prove a comedy execution can be diverse and effective with a cast of only underrepresented minorities and a female-owned production company. My favorite part of this project is that the production company, Picrow, is involved with Manifest Works, a program to train underrepresented minorities to work in the production industry. It connects those impacted by foster care, homelessness and incarceration with job opportunities in production and provides ongoing life and professional skills to support long-term success. 

These are but a few of the examples of how we are tangibly making a difference. It wasn’t easy and there continue to be challenges. We still have work to do, but we are committed for the long-term. We aren’t looking for a one-off bump. This has become an integral part of how we approach our campaign planning now and for the future.  

Beyond marketing, a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture has always been a part of Nestlé’s DNA and we are determined to find even better ways to stay true to our commitment to build an organization that draws strength and inspiration from our differences. We continue to take action and build on our foundation by driving accountability and leadership, enhancing learning and development, engaging future talent and acting in our communities.

 

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