Nestlé Purina: Culture change is the major challenge in our effectiveness journey

Embedding a culture of effectiveness within the company has meant breaking false beliefs around the efficacy of different media and re-educating brand managers.

Petcare company Nestlé Purina began a journey of effectiveness a year and a half ago, hoping to foster a better understanding of marketing investment among its teams.

But while that mission has included new measurement models, transparency and the optimisation of the media mix, the most challenging aspect of the journey thus far has been embedding a culture of effectiveness across different markets and bringing brand managers onboard.

Speaking at the IPA’s Global EffWorks Conference today (15 October), Nestlé Purina’s marketing director of speciality brands for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EMENA), Ricardo Prieto-Ortiz, argued that understanding what gives a brand value and what is wasted is a “fundamental principle” all brand managers should abide by.

“They need to understand where their money is going,” he said, arguing that many investment decisions are made “from legacy”. This means that often marketers fail to dig deeper and in some cases miss a “sense of curiosity”.

As an organisation, this was something Nestlé Purina needed to improve on , Prieto-Ortiz explained.

While instilling an effectiveness mindset at the core of planning and execution across every market in the region, and among each brand manager, has been core to this transformation, Prieto-Ortiz said the business still faces “various challenges” when it comes to bringing that to life.

“There’s a lot to do when it comes to education and understanding the fundamentals,” he said. “It’s pivotal that everyone understands the central differences between efficiency and effectiveness. That is not the case today.”

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Prieto-Ortiz added that industry “propaganda” around certain media channels and their importance has “not helped” with this challenge.

“They have created beliefs that are very, very difficult to break,” he said, noting a particular need to internally “rebrand” TV from “old-fashioned” to “very effective”.

“How do we assess media investments? How do we shift from thinking at an isolated brand level to a portfolio view? Do our brands compete with each other if they will be on air at the same time?  These are challenges that we are now overcoming,” he noted.

Insight and innovation director Olena Topilnyska added that despite the challenges, the effectiveness programme has been “fully endorsed” by all 30 of Nestlé Purina’s local markets in the EMENA region.

However, “endorsed is not yet embraced”, she stated, adding that the business has “a lot of beliefs to dismantle and a lot of education [to do]”.

Three pillars of effectiveness

Nestlé Purina is a regionally managed business, with 30 local markets. The regional team has responsibility for setting the overarching strategy across the portfolio of brands and high level investment. The team defines and delivers the full innovation pipeline and sets targets to the markets.

Each market, within the framework provided, executes the strategy as it sees fit to deliver on those targets, making investment choices between the brands and selecting the media formats it deems best.

When it came to focusing on measurement metrics, some brand managers at the local market level already had a good understanding of Nestlé Purina’s performance. But that was not the case in the regional marketing team, which was not close enough to the details of media and investment choices, Prieto-Ortiz said.

It’s pivotal that everyone understands the central differences between efficiency and effectiveness.

Ricardo Prieto-Ortiz, Nestlé Purina

“We had no ability to assess whether [they] delivered against the brand’s strategy set centrally,” he explained. “We realised we had a massive opportunity to embrace the effectiveness discussion between central and local, and really align on what effectiveness means for our organisation.”

The business broke down its effectiveness mission into three pillars. The first was to create full transparency on media investment at local level. The second was to deliver 360-degree measurement and optimisation on major campaigns, starting from pre-testing to in-flight assessment, and ending with cost.

Lastly, the business decided that doing selective mixed media modelling at market level was not delivering the scale of understanding it needed, or leading to effective optimisation across brands and geographies. It has therefore set itself a target to establish a regionally led media channel mix optimisation programme.

Topilnyska said she is “particularly proud” of the achievements the business has made on media mix optimisation over the past year. Having started at an average of 10% of media spend optimised annually, Nestlé Purina has now moved up to 80%.

She added that the business is changing the dialogue around paying for effectiveness measurement, which historically felt like an expense rather than investment, by proving with “clear data” the benefits to the business.

“This is something our finance team is really appreciating and now they look forward to how we can use these learnings,” she said.

As for the overall effectiveness journey, Nestlé Purina is still at the start, said Topilnyska, but she feels “positive” about its future development.

“Often we reflect on our first steps and ours was a few like-minded individuals who shared a passion for effectiveness, and rather importantly, had a budget responsibility,” she added.

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