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Marketing and Comms
Nestlé CMO Alicia Enciso on the Power of Incremental Changes

SB’19 Detroit is where global leaders in sustainable initiatives come to be inspired as well as share their innovative approaches and strategies. With a diverse and talented community of brands, everyone comes willing to learn.

We talked recently with Nestlé CMO Alicia Enciso, about how she stays inspired and how this multi-brand corporation keeps in touch with its consumers.

How do you overcome the sometimes-overwhelming situation of striving for sustainable practices in an unsustainable system?

Alicia Enciso: Whenever the task seems daunting or the obstacles feel too big to overcome, I think about the power of incremental changes. On a global scale, Nestlé sells 2,000 brands and our products touch one billion people every single day. Through our brand innovations, whether it’s making our packaging more sustainable or incorporating more plant-based proteins, we have an opportunity to make an impact on a large scale.

How has Nestlé embraced leading the change internally toward sustainable practices and responsible innovation?

AE: I have always passionately advocated for sustainable practices throughout our supply chain, including when I was VP of Communications and Marketing for Nestlé Mexico. During my time there, we reinforced our commitment to Mexican farmers by helping them implement more sustainable practices on their farms, such as installing biodigesters on farms to reduce fertilization costs, water use, nutrient runoff and energy usage. We have some exciting projects happening in the US, as well. Our Carnation Evaporated Milk facility in Modesto, California implemented water-saving technology reduced our water use by 59 percent between 2014 and 2017. And now we are investing in innovative irrigation technology for use on dairy farms that will result in even more water savings throughout the watershed.

Can you tell us some of the newest approaches to communication that are propelling collaborations, acquisitions and innovations within Nestlé?

AE: I think a great example of how Nestlé is innovating within our organization is through Open Channel, our internal crowdsourcing platform. Because our employees are also consumers, we recognize some of the most valuable insights may come from inside our own walls. We’ve asked employees what products they would like to see on shelves that may not exist yet. In the first round, our employees submitted over 500 ideas and then voted on the final 20, which we narrowed down to six finalists who pitched their concepts to Nestlé leaders including myself. It was amazing to hear these inspiring product ideas come from people who are not marketers in their day jobs — they are just really passionate about food. We funded the development of several of these ideas, and one of them will be appearing on shelves soon. Our second round of submissions just closed, and I’m so excited to see which ideas rise to the top.

Enhancing quality of life seems more relevant to consumers than ever before. How has communicating changed for today’s consumer?

AE: Today’s communication environment is crowded, and our attention spans are getting shorter. It can be challenging to break through, especially with sustainability topics that can be complex. I’m encouraged by the amount of media coverage and social engagement we’ve seen about our participation in Loop, TerraCycle’s new home delivery service of foods and household goods in reusable packaging. Our Häagen-Dazs brand is the official ice cream partner. I think this collaboration has just the right ingredients to inspire people — an innovative new model for reusability to test and learn from, and a premium, indulgent product delivered in a custom, beautifully designed reusable steel package.

Social and environmental purpose are a fundamental parts of your business. How are they inspiring Nestlé to engage with consumers?

AE: Now more than ever, consumers are looking for brands that they can trust. They want to feel good when they buy our products. We even know that they are willing to pay more for brands that have a social or environmental purpose attached to them. At Nestlé, we are consumer obsessed. So, we are naturally always listening and engaging with consumers on how our products can play a role in fostering the social and environmental causes that they care about.

When conceiving campaigns for various Nestlé brands and products, what are the key drivers for connecting to the consumer?

AE: Our most fundamental commitment is to enhance individuals’ and families’ lives every day. We deliver on this promise through our brands, and the first step in brand building is knowing our consumer deeply. Each brand must understand exactly who its consumer is, what they do, and why they do it. And beyond just understanding their motivations, our brand teams are intent on bringing their target consumers along as brand partners, by soliciting and incorporating their feedback into innovation, renovation and communication initiatives.

As more and more consumers define living healthier, better lives as part of the Good Life, what products have you seen resonate most with consumers?

AE: Food brings simple pleasures to everyday life, and we know that taste drives choice. As part of the world’s largest food and beverage company, our US portfolio offers a broad spectrum from nutritional health products to indulgent treats. We remain passionate about nutrition as we transform our portfolio to meet the needs of our consumers as they continue to redefine their vision of health and wellness.