As part of the WARC x Ogilvy Image to Impact report, Julieta Loaiza – VP Marketing, Communication & Corporate Affairs at Nestlé Mexico spoke about why ‘soft skills’ matter more than ever for marketing effectiveness, connecting data with human behaviours, and authenticity.

Julieta Loaiz

Julieta Loaiz, VP Marketing, Communication & Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Mexico

If we look at how marketing has changed over the past 10 years, what are the biggest shifts that you have seen personally in that time?

If we were really talking about effectiveness in the marketing area, it is not enough for all marketers to study the basics in marketing. Now they have to include the softer skills like leadership and understanding data analytics. Also, it's about understanding the really new behaviours behind the digital transformation - of not only the industry, but of their marketing strategy. It's about new human habits [and] a new way of living in the digital world to really understand in advance what we have to tackle, and what we have to manage in order to provide the best products, highlight the brands they love and stay living in that new world.

You talk about how Nestlé has had to adapt to consumers in this new world. How would you define Nestlé's approach or philosophy in terms of creating this impact?

Nestlé has a commitment in terms of providing nutrition and health and wellness food and beverages, so, following that promise and trying to improve quality of life, from the brand standpoint for the businesses, we are always trying to increase the impact in terms of sustainability, for example, right now. In digital connections, we have relevant information and stories to tell consumers about the quality of the healthier formulas and the new brands and products we are developing.

We have very strong merger and acquisition plans, globally, in order to be stronger and with a better offer for our consumers. So, from that standpoint, the role of any professional involved in this part of commercialising and growing a business in marketing, in planning and communication, our commitment is there to be honoured and accelerated for us to expose and share all of this news and commitments we have as a company.

Do you think those commitments have evolved over time in line with certain cultural or societal trends or the COVID-19 pandemic?

Absolutely. We are trying to accelerate everything we have right now and learn some other things because context is the driving force. What is the reality we face if we are talking to a low-income family in Latin America? We have to be empathetic and provide anything they need on a daily basis.

For example, Nescafé is one of the most beloved brands in Mexico and in Latin America and is marketed from the aspect of night and day. The consumer wakes up, has a cup of Nescafé coffee and then the brand disappears? No way! But it is not just about a hot cup of coffee, it's about a willingness to start my day with the right food,and sharing it with the people I love.

So, in that sense, this evolution and this human understanding requires a lot of acceleration in using tools to develop a new process, figuring out how we can change our strategy equation to really be connected all the time. And a lot of listening because we have an ocean of data out there. But it's not about the number, it's about the fact that data can express a lot of things. We, as a big company, have to be very into the data and even a step ahead of that to really understand how to use it for common well-being.

Brands may have had to move from being what we call a ‘destination’ to a ‘companion’ brand, i.e one that joins in with the consumer and takes part in their life. Is that something that you're seeing or is it somewhere where Nestlé needs to pay more [attention]?

I'm not sure if paying more is about money. It's about paying more in time. It's about paying more in love, involvement and engagement.

Everybody knows that when the pandemic forced everyone to stay at home, everyone cooked more. We have a range of products that you can not only use as a topping or as a cream in your coffees, you can use them for cooking, and we discovered a huge opportunity for those brands to connect. It was more than about being an ingredient, it was about the moment, about the sharing, and about the brand being there because the consumer is looking for something bigger. It's not only about a good, delicious product, it's more about connections and enjoyment.

How have you used data at Nestlé and Nescafé to help you make those strong connections?

I can share one of our favourite cases which is the tribute to the coffee farmers campaign, for which we won a Global Effie. Our belief was that we had to recognise the daily effort of those people in the fields to provide in our daily morning Nescafe cup of coffee [with] a great quality, amazing flavour and enjoyment.

At that point, we were only looking for interviews to show the stories, but one of our key assets was to transform those stories and print them on the jar, more than 1,000 of them. So in that moment when you open the jar and prepare your coffee, you see the farmer and understand the life behind these people and that Nescafé cup of coffee you are drinking.

Because people were involved, when the faces came into these marketing and communication stories – on the jar and the whole communication ecosystem e.g. digital, TV ads, open TV – the dimension of the connection was huge. The data informed all of this to really leverage and increase, exponentially, the power of this kind of brand with data and real stories to share.

How much work do you think there is for brands to be more authentic, from the boardroom all the way through to interactions with the customer?

The authentic personality and behaviour of a brand is not only what you say, it's what you share and the marketing experience or the communication experience. Right now, when you open a conversation with any consumer - no matter your type of brand and product - it requires a serious commitment to not only inform but to listen and exchange information.

Sometimes it's not as easy as we expect because the beauty in the human, in humanity is that you will see something as red but I might see it as more orange or pink. It doesn't mean you have to agree with me, it's about opening the possibilities to exchange and maybe include pink in the red side of your life.

It is not to transform or convince you that this is happening and this is amazing because there's not one only one formula or recipe to do that. That's why in each category, you have to be very flexible right now about the conditions of your reality, your business with these human beings that are interested to see what you have to say and show.

When it comes to proving the effectiveness of Nescafé's social impact, how easy is it and how are you going about it?

It's so difficult because as soon as I discover the absolute equation or recipe, I'm going to have to patent it because there is not a unique way to do it. Of course, we have tracking indicators over eight to 10 years that show us how everything is evolving behind the specific businesses and brands.

Profit and the margins are important but you also need to incorporate the marketing mix investments and from where the growth is coming. And the media and marketing needs are key to really defining how this percentage of growth is going to be comparable to the margin and then the profit.

It is impossible to define what is the perfect mix but if you're tracking some of your indicators in a disciplined way, including the media spend and the performance of your overall communication media off/online, you will learn, modify and fix the mix in an efficient way again. Google Analytics is a good partner for it, for example. A metaverse space will have a lot of indicators that you can track but it is not about one plus two plus three. It goes one, two, to back to one and then plus 10, which creates a different environment that you can try to experiment in.

If I have to give any advice to my marketing colleagues, it is right now the moment to experiment, to try something different because you're going to see the benefits. Working and trying in digital, for example, it’s a no brain opportunity, it's there and you have the agility and ability to really prove things and learn. It's amazing. It's an opportunity.

How have you navigated getting your core brand strategy integrated into the customer journey across all those different touchpoints and channels?

When the pandemic began, we discussed if we would have to develop multichannel platform strategies or omnichannel platform strategies, and we decided to go omnichannel. We started having conversations with one of our biggest suppliers, such as Walmart for example, because they are pioneers in some of this. The structure and their way of working forced us to pause a little and say 'hey, this is the way I'm going to do business with you'.

This is the new way of working so we have to connect everything we have. I'm not talking about the paper or the PowerPoint, I'm talking about the conversations we have in order to align the agreements with a strategy. Otherwise it's not going to work, because from our side, we're looking for all of the marketing and communication ecosystem finished in sales or in the conversion rate.

What do you think will happen in the next 10 years in terms of how brands make an impact on the planet, profit and people? How do you see that evolving and what should we be looking out for?

At this point, we have to remember three key basic things. One is to keep the basics, and when I say ‘keep the basics’, I mean be sure that you have exactly the right brand and right product, working in the right place to really satisfy a real need.

The second one is get the talent. Prepare the talent, teach them, train them, and get involved with them in order to really learn everything we have. There's a lot of information out there and you have to be above them as far as commitment to create amazing strategies to accelerate P&L growth.

The third one is about leadership. Leadership is important. I think the biggest transformation right now - and into the future - is in the way we're leading. I respect a lot of the past with its structure - how processes and why methodologies and everybody follows the leader to the right. But right now, the leadership is with you in the front line and all working together looking for the best for the company and for the consumer.

Leadership skills are something that we will see a huge transformation in to achieve our goals as professionals, as a company, and as people who really love what we do with passion and heart every day. Every morning I can say okay, I'm a marketer, I'm a communicator and I love what I'm doing. Let's go for it.