RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA: Nestlé, the food group, is putting digital "front and centre" of its marketing activity, both when it comes to driving sales and in developing the skills of its brand custodians.

Chris Padgett, Nestlé USA's vp/marketing and head of digital, and who runs its Digital Center of Excellence, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Digital & Social Media Conference.

"At Nestlé globally, and Nestlé USA, digital acceleration is front and centre to everything we're doing from a personal development standpoint and from a business impact standpoint," he said. (For more, including examples, read Warc's exclusive report: How Nestlé grew an all-digital marketing mindset.)

Drilling down into this subject, Padgett reported that "two big initiatives" – backed by the organisation's senior management – largely underpinned such a strategy.

"Building the business impact of digital as a part of marketing in everything that people do from a marketing standpoint," represents the first, according to Padgett.

The second was less procedural and more personal in nature, as it requires "increasing the competence and confidence of marketers to do digital as part of their work."

Given that Nestlé employs a significant number of marketers who, together, are responsible for some 2,000 brands in 200 markets, this is no simple undertaking.

"We're a big company. We've been marketing and selling consumer products for a very long time. And we've evolved over 150 years quite nicely," said Padgett.

"But, clearly, in the last five years or so, we recognised that we were lagging from a digital standpoint."

Enhancing its digital "competency", he conceded, remains an on-going process, with the company's Centers of Excellence playing a central role.

And the firm's growing roster of Digital Action Teams – groups of highly-regarded employees from around the world who temporarily come together to learn and tackle new media challenges – are also driving change.

"They go back into their market at more important digital-leadership roles, and they're electrifying their entire organisation to step up to do more," said Padgett.

Data sourced from Warc