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How Nestlé Waters uses marketing technology to drive growth

In a recent story we reviewed research firm Altimeter’s report on Digital Darwinism, which revealed that the most digitally innovative brands invest heavily in technology.

The Altimeter report synthesizes interviews with nine top CMOs and CDOs in industry-leading companies such as 20th Century Fox and Nestlé Waters (NW).

We wanted to take a deeper dive into some of the companies profiled in the report, so we reached out to Altimeter’s Principal Analyst, Brian Solis. Mr. Solis interviewed Antonio Sciuto, the former North American EVP & CMO of Nestlé Waters who explained some of the ways NW uses technology to better understand their customer journey.

The empowered customer

Customers are increasingly moving away from brands that don’t deliver integrated touchpoints or messaging. When asked about the challenges of unifying engagement with customers across all touchpoints, Sciuto replied, “It keeps me up at night.”

Says Sciuto, “Millennials and Centennials (people born 1994-2010), expect brands to be relevant across all touchpoints, but are also focused on the community and the planet. These expectations are rising to a level that is tough to meet. Marketers should think about the consumer experience as an integrated view that covers all touchpoints as well as the role and relevance of each touchpoint.”

Sciuto highlighted that technology plays a big role in better understanding NW’s customer journey which is critical to achieving relevance.

“Having an integrated marketing cloud platform is helping us to get there,” explains Sciuto, “But another challenge is producing content at scale. It’s not about having one model that fits all. We now have different models such as the traditional agency model, but also our content lab which produces content at scale, as well as influencer and user generated content. All of those need to play well together.”

As the customer journey becomes more complicated, brands seek to become companions at every stage.

It’s all about the data

When asked how digital channels have allowed Nestlé Waters to better assist customers by delivering the right content at the right time, Sciuto pointed out the importance of data.

Says Sciuto, “The biggest game changer for us has been the availability of data. Capturing data and gaining a better understanding of our customers helps NW remain relevant from the very beginning.”

Nestlé Waters uses customer data to help define various segments within their audience based on each interaction with their customers. This ability to continuously get a better understanding of the type of content that resonates with customers and run content dynamically helps NW remain relevant.

“It’s a continuous process of learning about our consumer, their interests, and how they want to engage with our brands,” explains Sciuto. “Based on this data, we are able to produce content at scale that is always more personalized.”

Image Source: San Pelligrino website

For example, Nestlé Waters uses information gleaned from their San Pelligrino website to better understand their customers in terms of flavor preferences and food preferences. Says Sciuto, “Customers can go to and think about food that they’d like to pair and also learn about the chef behind a given recipe.”

The importance of search

Brian Solis, the analyst who interviewed Sciuto, asked why search plays such a huge role in NW’s marketing strategy.

Says Sciuto, “For me, search is the most important touchpoint. I always tell my brand teams to cover search at its full potential, to think about it the same way you do shelf space in a physical store.”

Sciuto highlights that search results are like an “online shelf.” If a company’s products are not present on the first page of results, consumer won’t find them. Rather, they’ll probably find a competitor, and this prevents the marketer from engaging with them.

“This is why I’m obsessed with search,” explains Sciuto. “I like to think about search results exactly as we think about the shelf. What would we think if our product isn’t on the shelf? It would be unacceptable.”

Breaking down silos

Nestlé Waters has made some pretty radical infrastructure changes to create a new model for competing in the digital economy. Under Sciuto’s direction, NW integrated brand and performance teams and essentially made digital everyone’s job. When asked to elaborate on how they’ve managed to achieve this, Sciuto elaborated by outlining three key steps.

“The first step was to build our digital capabilities, not as siloed or separate, but by making digital everybody’s job. Understanding the consumer journey is what drives the entire marketing effort. You have online and offline touchpoints and you need to develop content that will be relevant.

“In accordance with that, the second step was to breaking silos within the organization,” Sciuto explains. “You can’t succeed if your effort is not fully integrated throughout the organization. The third key step is powered by technology.

Marketing as an enabler for future growth

Nestlé Waters’ approach highlights the importance of marketing as a key strategic player in a successful CPG organization, enabling business growth and outcomes.

When asked how he felt about marketing’s changing role in the future of business, Sciuto explained that it’s at the core of everything NW does because it’s key to meeting consumer needs.

“The evolution of technology gives marketers a new understanding of the consumer journey,” Sciuto explains. “We can really own the entire customer experience. We’re in charge of all those touchpoints and, consequently, we can oversee the entire PnL of the business. I don’t see a different path. Marketers need to own the entire customer journey. This is how they can be the growth engine for any company that will win in the future.”

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