Kellogg’s: FMCG brands make mistakes when they just check the digital box

Kellogg’s is building a hybrid customer strategy that builds on its legacy while making it fit for the digital landscape.

Kellogg's cereal, Coco Pops, Corn FlakesKellogg’s head of digital is urging FMCG brands to not “just check the digital box” and instead think holistically about how digital is integrated across the business.

Speaking at the IGD conference last week, the brand’s chief global digital consumer and customer experience officer, Julie Bowerman explained: “CPG can make mistakes [when] just checking the digital box.”

Bowerman, who heads up the company’s digital strategy, added: “Often ecommerce is put in sales or marketing when it’s both. You need to build a vision [which includes] both. [To do this], you hire the right people and create the right investments. We think about it holistically.”

This holistic model includes a hybrid strategy that capitalises on Kellogg’s heritage while adopting leaner strategies favoured by digital disruptors.

She explained: “You have to [capitalise] on your heritage, your legacy and your scale but to compete you have to think like digitally native brands.”

Bowerman also noted that she staffed her team with a “blended” mix of talent that includes more traditional FMCG marketers and more tech-focused hires, noting “both matter and bring unique capabilities.”

She is also expanding her team’s reach across the business: “We are training our account teams with the language and skills of ecommerce.”

Bowerman admits that although Kellogg’s “is not perfect”, when it comes to being a digital company the brand is “wiring cross-functional partnerships” so this way of working is ingrained in the business.

“We are constantly integrating with finance and supply chain and bringing them in early on. We are constantly stewarding so it becomes ingrained as part of a team, telling [others] why we’re doing [something] and what the value is,” she added.

Speaking about how the brand has had to change with the advent of digital disrupters, she said: “Our competitors are much more vast, so the range and scale of innovation needs to be more broad and vast as that’s what shoppers expect.”

She added that consumers habits are also changing as “search is replacing TV as a means of discovery”.

Alongside her desire for a mixed team, Bowerman said that building an overarching culture is vital.

She explained: “The most important [thing] is the culture and team dynamics. I like to use the word scrappy but scrappy means you break down barriers, you don’t need to wait to do things and you figure things out.”