Walmart – one of blockchain’s early adopters

The problem

When it comes to food traceability, it is vital to show where the food was sourced from and where it has been. This is because when an outbreak of a food-borne disease happens, it can take days, if not weeks, to find its source.

In 2022, in the US alone, there were 13 multistage foodborne outbreaks (CDC website). This does not take into account recalls due to other contaminants. For a global view, Food Safety News published outbreaks and recalls on a regular basis.

Better traceability could help save lives by allowing companies to act faster and protect the livelihoods of farmers by only discarding produce from the affected farms.

In 2016, when Walmart’s Vice President of Food Safety asked his team to trace a pack of sliced mangoes to its respective suppliers, his team took 6 days, 18 hours, and 26 minutes (Source: Walmart’s website).

Solution

This started Walmart on its journey to implement a food traceability system using blockchain. They partnered with IBM to create a traceability system based on Hyperledger fabric. Walmart ran two proof of concept initiatives to test this system.

The first proof of concept was for pork in China to install trust in a system where there was none.

The second proof of concept was for mangoes in the US. The purpose was to trace their provenance so that product recalls are faster and more effective.

The results

Pork in China: The new system connected and verified various pork suppliers, packaging companpanies, shippers, and buyers with those who were involved in moving the product around China. It allowed uploading of certificates of authenticity to the blockchain, instilling trust where it used to be a serious issue.

Mangoes in the US: The time needed to trace mangoes to their suppliers went from 7 days to 2.2 seconds!

By 2020, Walmart could track more than 500 food products using blockchain and could provide the FDA with detailed information on the original source of a potential contamination within an hour.

Source: Walmart Website, Hyperledger Foundation website and Foley.com

Learn more about this new technology :
Our blog : “Blockchain in FMCG supply chains”

Innovation & timing – Tesco’s virtual stores

South Koreans are known to have the longest working hours in the world, with executives often too busy to go shopping for grocery at a traditional store.

Tesco, the UK giant, introduced “virtual stores” in response to this. These ‘stores’ are essentially a display of products on the walls of metro stations and bus stops. Commuters, especially those who are tech-savvy and time poor could scan the QR codes of products on display with their smartphones, and place orders while waiting for their trains or buses.

This initiative was so successful, they decided to launch this in the UK too.

Shopper in Korea buying groceries at Tesco’s virtual store

The UK launch

They decided to trial the first store at Gatwick. 

On 6 Aug, they launched UK first virtual store for passengers who were leaving on holidays holidays. This gave holiday makers leaving from Gatwick North terminal the opportunity to order milk, groceries and other essentials that they needed when they got back from holiday. No one likes coming back home to an empty fridge!

Shopper buying groceries at Gatwick North Terminal, departures

Passengers/shoppers were able to browse basic necessities ranging from milk and bread to toilet paper displayed on vending machine sized screens. Through the app, they could scan bar codes/QR codes underneath those products, buy the products and arrange for these to be delivered on their day of return. 

According to The Drum, Tesco’s internet retailing director Ken Towle, said that the virtual store “blends clicks and bricks” as it brings together the “love of browsing with the convenience of shopping online.”

Right product, Wrong time

While this was a great initiative that should have succeeded, Tesco were ahead of times with this launch. Especially for the UK market. While shoppers in Korea were all tech savvy and used to e-commerce, shoppers in the UK were more inclined to want to go to stores and shop in person. 

So the roll out of any further virtual stores were shelved, unfortunately! 

2020 lockdowns accelerated the adoption of e-commerce and technology (scan & go) in retail in the UK. Had Tesco launched their virtual stores now, they may have seen very different results. 

An Innocent mistake

In 2019, Innocent Drinks, known for their tongue in cheek ads, made a mistake with one of their campaigns.

Thanks to a team that thinks quickly on their feet, they were able to turn this around to their advantage. In fact, they make deprecating references to this ad once in a while, which reminds people that the team is human too and make mistakes.

So what happened?

The brand doesn’t play by the regular rulebook with their quirky, often irreverent & original tone of voice.

In October 2019, to launch their dairy free nut drinks range, the team released a tweet which included a ‘seasonal’ addition – Conker milk. For those who are wondering what conkers are, they are fruits of the horse chestnut tree – not edible and poisonous.

Innocent drinks posted the below tweet, without realising that people may actually try eating/’milking’ conkers.

The backlash was swift, as many people assumed this was a real product.

The reaction

In fact there were announcements and posts about how conkers are poisonous and harmful if eaten.

The team quickly released an apology, deleted the tweet and proceeded to release a series of tweets about their gaffe.

While apologetic, the brand was self deprecating and chose to make fun of themselves instead.

They used this opportunity to reply to twitter users who posted about the ad.

They even referenced other (edible) brands in their tweets, which interestingly resulted in a spike in demand for those brands.

The results

While the campaign started off on an ominous note, the team’s swift and humorous reaction meant that awareness of the increased and brand loyalty was sealed.

The brand also came across as more ‘human’ to everyone. In fact, this ‘human’ element was so good for brand perception and awareness that they still about this gaffe once in a while as you can see below.

Personalisation at scale – L’Oreal

When a billion people use your skin care & hair care products and your cosmetics range, you need to consider innumerable textures & colours. All these consumers want products that are tailored to their needs. For L’Oreal, delivering personalisation at this level of scale meant thinking about innovation in a different way.

It would no longer mean a one solution to one problem approach. It meant tailoring the solution for individual consumers who experienced the same problem in different ways.

Leveraging industry 4.0 to achieve personalisation at scale

Industry 4.0 includes robotics, IoT, data, blockchain, VR, AR & AI. All these technologies have a place in the modern industrial framework. They can be combined and can be deployed to make manufacturing more productive and efficient.

L’Oréal not only leveraged e-commerce and recommendation engines during the pandemic, but the company also tested and implemented technologies to deliver personalisation at scale.

Initiatives and solutions

We’ve already covered L’Oreal’s Modiface in a previous blog. Some of L’Oreal’s other various initiatives are:

  • Le Teint Particulier, under the brand Lancome – a product which allows consumers to have their skin tone ‘measured’ at point of sale. A personalised concealer is then manufactured for them right there in the store. The concealer is a combination of one of each of 8,000 shades, 3 coverage levels, and 3 hydration levels. Even the packaging is personalised with information including the customer’s name. It also includes a reference ID for quick and easy reordering.
  • Custom D.O.S.E by Skinceuticals, a L’Oreal UK brand. According to L’Oreal’s tech incubator, “Custom D.O.S.E by SkinCeuticals is the first ever automated system that delivers highly concentrated combinations of SkinCeuticals’ most potent ingredients on-the-spot. Addressing the concerns of over 250 skin types, the D.O.S.E technology is first-of-its-kind because it’s able to mix active ingredients into a single serum at the point of service specifically to target the appearance of skin aging issues, like wrinkles, fine lines, and discoloration.”
  • Agile production lines – by leveraging several industry 4.0 technologies, L’Oreal has been able to manage final product differentiation later in the value chain. Stéphane Lannuzel says, “We can produce the base and then choose the colour for a lipstick right at the very last moment”.
  • Perso, this gadget personalises and customises make up for your every need. Perso relies on an AI derived diagnosis of a photo (corresponding phone app by BreezoMeter) of a user’s face to highlight imperfections ranging from fine lines to dryness. Perso then creates a final product formulated for the user’s skin, pulling from a library of ingredients.

The results speak for themselves

For the year ended 31 December 2021, L’Oreal’s brands grew by 16.1%, nearly twice that of the global beauty market. Sales was up 15.3% vs prior year, with profits up 29% vs prior year.

The group reported double digit sales growth in H1 2022 at 20.9% increase YoY.

You’re not you when you’re hungry

The ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ marketing campaign, by the Snickers team at Mars, celebrates its 12th anniversary this year. Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has won several awards including Cannes Lions, The One Show, D&AD and the Emmys. And as the campaign premise is universal & timeless, it hasn’t needed much change(through time or for different markets) either. But what catalysed the Mars team to develop & launch the ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign?

The problem

Snickers as a brand had become overly targeted and focussed on a subsection of the male population – young men. The brand used ‘bloke humour’ to focus exclusively on this consumer segment. As a result, they were unable to grow beyond a certain point. However, contrary to their focus, the Mars team wanted Snickers to be a universally loved brand for men.

The process

The team decided to identify a universal human truth that worked across markers and time. This would help them build a global brand. Through customer interviews and research, they discovered that men seek acceptance and membership of the “male pack‟. They found out that when they’re hungry, they’re not themselves which threatens their place in the pack. This insight was consistent with the brand’s heritage, whilst also being relevant to a much broader audience.

The resulting brand idea was, “A proper, nut-filled Snickers sorts out hunger and restores your role in the pack”. 

The solution – You’re not you when you’re hungry campaign

And so, the ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign was born. The team decided to implement the campaign universally, tweaked for local culture.

  • The US was critical for success as the country was Snickers’ number-one market. The team launched the campaign during the 2010 Super Bowl Game , featuring US actress Betty White. The ad topped the Super Bowl favourite ad poll and generated 91 days of media coverage worth $28.6m. Betty White appeared on TV shows such as The Jay Leno Show and Oprah Winfrey Show and the ad was played during each appearance.
The US version of the ad
  • In Australia, “Hungerithm” monitored the mood of the internet and offered discounts from 7-Eleven stores when the internet is “hungry”
Hungerithm explained
  • In UK, the team leveraged timely tweets by celebrities that may be attributed to hunger. Once such example relates to Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson’s infamous dust-up with a BBC producer that generated 5,000 retweets and 390,000 media impressions
The Snickers team’s tweet to Jeremy Clarkson

The results

Prior to launch of this campaign the Snickers brand growth lagged behind its key competitor and also the category.

By leveraging their insights into their target consumer group and tapping into a universal ‘truth’ to create a compelling campaign, the Snickers team at Mars was able to grow the brand by 15.9%. As a result, Snickers is significantly ahead of its closest competitor and the category itself.

All the best Snickers commercials from this campaign

Heinz & consumer centricity

The iconic glass Heinz ketchup bottle was a staple in family kitchens around the world. But did you know that H J Heinz pioneered glass bottles in the Ketchup sector? This was primarily to show consumers that there were no nasties in his bottles of Ketchup. Nasties in Ketchup bottles? Really?

Yes, at one point Ketchup did not contain even one tomato. It has its origins in the East and was a fermented mix of Yellow Fish, Shark & Mullet. For more info on this, check out the article here.

Cookbook author, Pierre Blot, used the words “Filthy, decomposed and putrid.”, in 1866 to describe ketchup brands that were available the.

At a time when no one cared about what went into ketchup, H J Heinz was obsessed with purity in his product. He put his ketchup in glass bottles so consumers and shoppers could see how pure the product was.

57 Varieties labelling

You maybe surprised to know that 57 Varieties of Heinz is a work of pure fiction. That is not to say that there aren’t/weren’t 57 Varieties of Heinz. At a time when there were more than 60 varieties of Heinz, HJ Heinz went with 57. There are several sources that claim different reasons one. One claims 57 was H J Heinz’s favourite number. Another claims, 5 was H J Heinz’s favourite and 7 was his wife’s favourite. Yet another source claims that H J Heinz simply liked the look of the number.

But what all these sources agree on is the reason behind placing this at the neck of the bottle. This label was a signpost. Instead of whacking the ketchup bottle on the back of the bottle as many did, which usually did not result in much ketchup, consumers were meant to whack the bottle where the label was placed to get ketchup out.

As you can see, probably not the best solution, but better than whacking the bottle on top.

EZ Squirt launch

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, What the Dog Saw, described the trigger for the research that went into launching squeeze bottles. Heinz had commissioned several studies into how Ketchup was consumed and the consumer persona that consumed the most ketchup. So it was well known that children were their biggest consumer group and one of these user group sessions was a turning point for Casey Keller, a former manager with Heinz.

He was at one of the household observing how people consumed Ketchup. “I remember sitting in one of those households,” Casey Keller, who was until recently the chief growth officer for Heinz, says. “There was a three-year-old and a six-year-old, and what happened was that the kids asked for ketchup and Mom brought it out. It was a forty-ounce bottle. And the three-year-old went to grab it himself, and Mom intercepted the bottle and said, ‘No, you’re not going to do that.’ She physically took the bottle away and doled out a little dollop. You could see that the whole thing was a bummer.” 

Heinz

According to Keller, this was the moment of truth. The average 5 year old consumed 60% more ketchup than the average adult does. And the problem was that the products biggest consumers did not have access to Heinz Ketchup whenever they wanted to consume it. Parents decided how much ketchup their children consumed.

Heinz launched the EZ Squirt bottle as a result. In homes where Heinz in EZ Squirt was used, sales of ketchup increased by 12%.

According to Keller, the innovations in the ketchup space by Heinz “have driven category growth while increasing Heinz’s ketchup sales (by) approximately 7% annually over the past two years, giving the brand a record 60% market share.

“It’s obvious that innovation is the name of the game in this category.”

Launch of the upside down squeeze bottle

However, the Heinz team identified that people were still finding it difficult to get ketchup out of the EZ Squirt plastic bottle.

They often got too little ketchup, but they would just make do with what they had instead of continuing to squeeze to get more. Also, residual bits of ketchup would gather around the nozzle clogging the nozzle toward the end. The Heinz team noticed that consumers often stored their Heinz bottles upside down.

Heinz & consumer centricity

So Heinz launched the upside down squeezable bottles with a valve fitted inside to get the most of the ketchup inside the bottle.

“The upside-down bottle has it all,” said Heinz brand manager Melissa Hill. “It gives an instant flow of ketchup, with no more shaking, complete controllability, and no messy residues on the cap. Squeezing is believing. The valve literally sucks ketchup back up the very instant that squeezing stops.”

As a result, according to CNN, sales of Heinz ketchup in that year rose by 6% when the category itself grew only by 2%.

Heinz continues innovating to meet changing consumer preferences

In November 2021, Heinz announced that they were collaborating with Aptar Food & Beverage to incorporate a new recyclable valve system in their range. As recently as in May 2022, Heinz announced that they were launching their ketchup in a paper bottle made entirely of sustainably sourced wood pulp.

Heinz & consumer centricity

The next 12-18 months will tell how well these changes have been received by Heinz consumers.

If you’d like to read more about how other FMCG companies have approached customer/consumer centricity, check out our blog on this topic.

Nestle – Innovation & Employee engagement

Challenge

In November 2013, Nestlé asked themselves whether innovation can be fuelled by their employees. Inspired by initiatives like Apple’s Intrapreneurs, Nestlé wanted to apply this model internally, the first of its kind in the FMCG sector.

After all, employees are consumers too!

But what Nestlé realised is that the employees behind the ideas were just as important as the ideas themselves. So they aimed to develop their employees as intrapreneurs and not just focus on ideation. This gave their employees skin in the game and gave Nestle the opportunity to embed a value that they wanted to see more of, in Nestle – Agility.

Solution

The InGenius program was created. Employees submit their ideas to innovation challenges that Nestle posted through the program. A shortlist of ideas was then created and employees behind the idea were given the chance pitch their idea to senior management. The InGenius team invests heavily in employees who reach this stage by coaching them, helping them develop their concepts, and validating their idea/product prototype.

As a result these employees learn how to research, ideate, prototype, test, and pitch, with the aim of highlighting the business potential of their ideas. The ideas that are backed by senior management are then accelerated to pilot testing.

InGenius’s goal was to encourage ideas and to ensure there was a process in place to nurture the entrepreneurial employees who emerged from the process. And they succeeded. The program has been around for 6 years now!

They maintained momentum through the stories and videos created as a result of successful idea submissions. Employees and potential employees could see that Nestle not inly encourages employee led innovation, but also developed the employees who came up with these ideas to be better ‘intrapreneurs’. The InGenius microsite created a community of internal entrepreneurial talent.

Results

To date, 4,800 ideas have been shared, and 67 projects have been funded across the world.

Nestle’s real benefit was that of people development. Not only did a whopping 63,000 employees engage with this initiative, those who were involved as ‘intrapreneurs’ now bring a start-up mindset to the business. Others learned that collaboration and support for ideas is just as important as the ideas themselves.

InGenius’ success is evident in the stories and innovations that have evolved from the initiative and the increased employee engagement. Further, it is estimated that some of the problems that were solved and implemented through this initiative saved Nestle millions of dollars.

Today, companies need a way of engaging and retaining their top talent. Not only this, but companies also need to find a way to develop talent in a way that is in keeping with the culture the company wants to embed. Agility in the FMCG sector has long been a topic of discussion. While most other companies are struggling with this, Nestle has found a way to inspire their team to be agile and catalyse them to solving problems that Nestle faces – key for the coming months!

Mayonnaise – how Hellmann’s became synonymous with giving new life to food

Hellmann’s, Unilever’s line of condiments, position themselves as solving a problem, not selling a product. Most food & beverage brands differentiate themselves from competition on taste & quality/use of ingredients. In the world of condiments, this is difficult as most consumers perceive this segment to be functional.
The Hellmann’s unique marketing strategy team at Unilever understood this and have long positioned their brand as one that encourages creativity in cooking and food. Over the last 3 or so years, they have been championing solving the food waste problem at home using Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Bring out the best

In 2019, Unilever launched the ‘Bring out the best’ campaign in UK. The campaign by  Ogilvy UK & Unilever asked people to get leftovers from their fridge for Hellmann’s to transform into ‘new’ meals using their range. David Hertz, a celebrity Chef, transformed people’s leftovers into five-star meals using the Hellmann’s range.

Bring our the Best Campaign in the UK, 2019

This campaign is a great example of embedded marketing, where the potential of the product is incorporated into a strong social message. Not only did it receive organic coverage from news outlets, it was popular on social media too.

Previous success

Ogilvy and Hellmann’s had previously done a similar campaign in Canada in 2018, which informed Canadians that they waste enough food every minute to feed a stadium. In the advert, they showcased feeding a stadium full of people with food waste from grocery stores.

Delivering a fully integrated campaign pinned on the message, ‘more real food for real people’, the brand created a mini digital site where people can find food rescue tips, recipes and facts on food waste.

Feed a stadium campaign – Canada, 2018

The campaign earned 13.5MM+ impressions & influencer content achieved 2MM+ organic impressions (3.5x the industry benchmark). Their mini digital site with educational tips on reducing food waste had a view-through rate of +80% above industry benchmarks.

2020

Based on the success of their campaign in Canada and also the ‘Bring out the Best’ campaign in the UK, they launched the ‘Turn nothing into something’ campaign in Canada in 2020 and the Fairy Godmayo ad in the US in time for Super Bowl.

Turn Nothing into Something ad in Canada
Fairy Godmayo ad in the US – launched in time for Super Bowl, 2020

In 2020, as an initial step towards the larger vision to reduce food waste, the brand started the Hellmann’s Food Relief Fund. This has already saved 1.2 million pounds of food waste from farms and redistributed this food to communities in need. 

Embedding sustainability in the brand’s DNA

The Hellmann’s initiative, “Make Taste, Not Waste”, is part of Unilever’s “Future Foods” ambition, which launched globally in 2020 with two key objectives: to help people transition towards healthier diets and to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain. One of the key “Future Foods” commitments is to halve food waste in Unilever’s direct global operations from factory to shelf by 2025.

This initiative was also lauded by Daniel Balaban, Director of UN in Brazil who mentioned, “The idea is an extremely important wake-up call on food waste”.

Not only does Hellmann’s have a focus on food waste but they are leading the way in terms of how they are sourcing the plastic used in their bottles and caps. In 2018, they started making their bottles 100% recyclable.

Embedding the food waste cause deep into the brand’s image, has helped Unilever breathe life into what is otherwise a commoditised condiment. They have tapped into a segment of consumers who will stay loyal to the brand due to the causes the brand stands for, which is crucial for the year ahead.

The power of data – reviving Quaker Oats in Netherlands

The Quaker Oats team at PepsiCo wanted to revive a “dusty” brand image and at the same time to launch a new Cruesli flavor in supermarkets. Quaker Oats new flavour campaign encouraged the public to help create and name a new flavour, on the Quaker Oats website. The winning flavour would then be produced at scale and launched in supermarkets with the winner receiving a prize of 10,000 €. However, the true winner was PepsiCo as they received a wealth of data from engaged consumers.

This campaign format was not new to PepsiCo. They’ve done this several times with Walkers and Doritos in the UK. However what was new, was how they went about it.

The Campaign

Instead of relying on purely TV ads and on-pack promotions, they leveraged social media and influencers to reach a wide audience. This campaign included online advertising, social media, TV ads, in-store marketing, and outdoor billboards. They also activated influencers on social media and agencies to reach a broader audience than they could reach. This multi-channel approach reached a diverse audience. All contestants submitted a new flavour and its name along with their contact details.

Once the Quaker Oats team picked the top 3 flavours, they not only asked their consumers to vote for their favourite flavour but also retargeted all the participants who had submitted new flavours, to pick their favourite of the 3.

Along with the announcement of the winning flavour, the Quaker Oats used the data they collected during the campaign to target all the participants to remind and motivate them to buy the new flavour. They also ran social media ads with the message, ‘Be the first to try’, along with an incentive, win the new flavour.

The results

The social media campaign reached over 677,230 consumers, with a high level of engagement, 14%! Through the Agency they hired, they reached an additional 500k consumers.

According to the data provided by PepsiCo to the Mapp team, there were more than 50k submissions during the initial phase, which equated to more than 50k new contacts in their consumer database.

More than 400k votes were submitted on the winning flavour. The cost of getting the votes was 50% lower for the contestants who submitted entries than it was with new voters.

And finally, PepsiCo found that the ROI on interacting with prospects in their database was much higher than engaging and interacting with prospects on their database was far higher than ROI on less targeted campaigns. The positive association with the brand lead to a much higher conversion rate

And now, if you are wondering what the winning flavour was, it was Quaker Cruesli® Frambalicious. The flavour is still available in Netherlands and as popular as ever!

Sources of information: Mapp & Parlez.

Coca Cola & their use of augmented reality in marketing

Coca-Cola is a long-term partner of the FIFA World Cup . The marketing mavens at The Coca Cola Company have created a number of memorable FIFA related marketing campaigns, appearing at stadium events since 1950. In 2018, in keeping with their strategy to appeal to a younger demographic, The Coca Cola Company decided to leverage augmented reality in their 2018 FIFA marketing campaign.

The brand celebrated the start of the 2018 World Cup with a football-themed augmented reality experience outside of Zurich’s main train station in Switzerland.

A unique augmented reality experience was created for Zurich Central Station. It gave passers-by the chance to demonstrate their football skills, using augmented reality to make participants feel like they were playing alongside Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri’s footage was taken in front of a green screen and adapted to allow participants to play alongside him.

Participants watched a show of skill from Shaqiri before he ‘gestured’ to the participant to play a few shots against him. At the end of the experience, the user was prompted to take a picture. The Coca Cola Company then collected their details so participants could receive a copy of the photo and a chance to win a FIFA World Cup official match ball.

By creating a fully-immersive experience in a location with a lot of foot traffic and involving a high-profile and timely event, Coca-Cola ensured passers-by would want to participate, paving the way for social media amplification.

While the campaign itself was not large scale, the experience was set up outside Zurich’s main train station and was only on for 2 days, the campaign was so popular they had more than 1000 passers by stop and engage.

Why is this relevant now?

We have been writing about the current consumer mindset and what to expect in the next few months given the economic uncertainty. Experiential and augmented reality marketing campaigns like this have the potential to generate sales on a much larger scale today. As consumers are having to make choices between major spend buckets, including living expenses, entertainment and travel, an experiential marketing campaign is far more likely to engage your consumer and increase sales as compared to more traditional advertising.