This month we celebrate women’s strenght, creativity and ambition in marketing with career stories that inspire. How can an ambitious Romanian marketing professional deliver performance in one of the most competitive markets worldwide? Read the story of Daniela Bodescu, Consumer Insights Lead at Ferrero, Parsippany, United States of America.
Since 2005, Daniela has proved to be an effective translator of insights and data into strategic market and brand intelligence, critical to game changing brand and category innovation for leading companies such as Ferrero, Nestlé Waters, Colgate-Palmolive or Kraft. She is acting as a catalyst for change and good sustainable growth for the marketing initiatives she’s been involved in.
What’s the role of the Consumer & Market Insights Manager? How can category strategies deliver business outcomes? How can one get a sense of purpose striving to impact positive change on a large scale?
Has marketing chosen you or you have chosen marketing?
I discovered marketing in Romania after reading David Ogilvy’s book on advertising principles and starting my career in the early and exciting days of marketing in Romania, first in PR at DC Communications, followed by marketing at ABN AMRO Bank Romania, and then advertising at McCann Erickson. It was a very immersive experience that opened by appetite for marketing.
You’ve started in one of the best marketing schools worldwide: Kraft. How has this early experience has impacted upon your career?
After moving to the US, while attending my MBA program at Pace University, Lubin School of Business in New York, I discovered consumer insights and the role this function plays in driving the marketing strategy. That is when I became familiar with the notion of a consumer centric organization and I knew immediately that I wanted to pursue a career in consumer insights. I was fortunate to be selected into a marketing program at Kraft while still attending my MBA program. Shortly after finishing my MBA, Kraft extended me a full-time position in their consumer insights group, which was very highly regarded best-in-class in the CPG world. At Kraft I learned marketing fundamentals, how to apply marketing strategy processes and frameworks, I learned how to integrate market research, data intelligence, and consumer feedback to drive strategy. It was a holistic immersion into the marketing field through thoughtful assignments, best in class guidance from my supervisors, excellent training, and hands on deck experiences. In my 8 years tenure at Kraft, I became a well-rounded consumer insights expert.
What are your responsibilities of a Consumer & Market Insights Manager? How does a day in the life an Insights Manager/Lead looks like? What are the main outcomes of your work and how have they impacted upon the business results of the brands and organizations?
The role of the Consumer & Market Insights Manager is not to execute market research studies. That is actually a very small and very tactical part of my job description. I spend a lot of my time guiding and educating the marketing organization on how to develop products, packaging, and communications that meet consumers needs and on how to set realistic objectives and achieve measurable results. Most importantly, my role is to influence the organization to adopt decisions that will improve consumers’ lives with minimal impact to the environment and the society. I found that as a consumer insights expert in a multinational CPG organization, I have the ability to impact positive change on a large scale. Some examples are reducing the sugar in Capri Sun, launching better-for-you products with organic or higher quality ingredients; at Colgate educating consumers (kids in particular) on how to brush teethes properly; at Nestle Waters pushing the organization to adopt better for the environment materials like recycled plastic. This area is where I find my purpose and I encourage every consumer insight expert to embrace their role as catalyst of positive change within their organizations.
How do organizations generate results through a category strategy? Could you share examples from your work? Are there any quick and easy wins that we neglect and why?
The premise is simple here, to generate results through category strategy is to show customers how they can leverage the brands in your portfolio to grow the category not just your brands. This could be achieved in a few ways. Here are some examples: upscaling the category by launching premium offerings, attracting consumers from other categories by better meeting their needs, helping customers optimize the brands portfolio they carry and ensuring that it is aligned with distinct consumer needs and occasions (category segmentation), bringing constant new news through seasonal items, new temporary flavors, special displays to attract new consumers and make the category more attractive to shoppers.
Once a brand loses credibility with consumers, it is very hard to recover their trust.
What about the challenges and how do you overcome them? What are the challenges in championing the customer perspective versus any other priority of other stakeholders? ( sales, product).
The major challenge is in educating the organization at large, beyond marketing, on the need of becoming a consumer centric organization, where all business objectives are achieved through improving consumers lives and not at the expense of the consumer. Consumers are very savvy and can easily recognize initiatives that are meant to generate profit at their expense and those brands lose credibility with consumers very quickly. Once a brand loses credibility with consumers, it is very hard to recover their trust. The challenge is in helping all parts of the organization to see the big picture and work towards delighting the consumer. It is an effort that involves time, repetition, and constant education starting with the executive leadership.
The pandemic forced us to be more nimble, more efficient in how we communicate, more transparent about our intentions, and more emphatic at each other’s needs.
Has the pandemic changed the way you work, the consumer behavior in the categories you manage and the way you manage the marketing mix for your brands? In the way you manage teams and other resources?
The pandemic forced us to be more nimble, more efficient in how we communicate, more transparent about our intentions, and more empathetic of each other’s needs. From a consumer perspective, the growth of e-commerce was accelerated, health and wellness took a backseat as consumers looked towards more indulgent products to help them cope with added stress and anxiety. We are also seeing increased awareness of environmental crisis. With the elimination of cookies, we are experimenting with alternative methods of measuring campaign effectiveness especially when it comes to digital and social media communication. The goal is to be able to not just measure our efforts but learn and adjust as we launch new campaigns. We have employed brand lift measurement tools that allow us to act more nimbly. Marketing mix tools remain relevant as a holistic read of marketing initiatives, however, they do not allow for real time adjustments as they are generally retrospective in nature.
The nature of innovation depends on the category.
How does marketing innovation looks like for the brand you’ve managed? New products, packaging, flavors, new distribution channels or new routes to market?
The nature of innovation depends on the category. In the oral-care category, the focus of innovation is on new product claims and new features. In the sparkling water category, the focus is on new flavors, new packaging formats. In the chocolate category, the focus is on new shapes, textures, and ingredients. Innovation is largely driven by consumers needs and occasions that could be very different from one category to another.
Brands must create large scale platforms to engage consumers in the effort of becoming more environmentally conscious and act upon it.
What about the sustainability challenges and progress? You’ve been involved in sustainability initiatives. Could you share more of the best practices or success stories of the brands you’ve been exposed to managed to deliver more of their sustainability claims?
Sustainability is a hot topic these days and in the past couple of years it has gained more traction with the US consumers. Nestle Waters was at the epicenter of the sustainability conversation given the nature of our packaging, plastic bottles, and our product, spring water. What I have learned from my work at Nestle is that sustainability efforts need to be embedded into the brand purpose and objectives if we want to see real impact in market. If left part of the corporate agenda, they tend to achieve minimal impact and are generally not recognized by consumers. Brands who have sustainability as part of their DNA such as Patagonia, accomplish more in this area and rally consumers towards their goals more effectively. Brands must create large scale platforms to engage consumers in the effort of becoming more environmentally conscious and act upon it.
Your top three successful marketing campaigns you’ve been recently exposed to and why?
Poland Spring re-launch campaign – established the brand as the #1 spring water brand by educating the US consumer about the benefits of spring water vs. purified, under the higher purpose of bringing people closer to nature.
Capri Sun „The Disrespectoids” campaign – building brand equity with kids and establishing Capri Sun as the #1 beverage choice for kids 6-12
Top three marketing knowledge sources or favorite marketing books?
- „How brands grow” by Byron Sharp
- „Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell
Podcasts and posts by Simon Sinek for lessons in leadership
Get more tools and hands-on support for managing brands and resources within our Managing Brands or Resource Management international certified training.