Heinz doubles innovation rate and ramps up digital spend, Hill tells IGD

Hill: time to innovate

Hill: time to innovate

Matt Hill, president UK and Ireland, Heinz, focused on the company’s latest innovations and investment in digital marketing at the IGD’s 2012 Convention.

He told delegates they are living in habit-forming times. People are dining in more and some are spending more on eating in. There is growth in ethnic foods – Thai is up 23% and Mexican up 28%, for example

Aspirations have increased but time is short. In the UK, there are 70m searches per month for online recipes and recipe videos are increasingly popular. 

Value is a key challenge, with 28-34% of products on promotion. However, value does not mean cheap, said Hill. 

Innovation has slowed with 30% fewer new products compared to two years ago, according to Nielsen research.

Against that backdrop, Hill said Heinz had a challenge to double its innovation rate in two years with a focus on taste, health and convenience. 

The resulting products included Heinz Beanz Fridge Pots and Snap Pots, Heinz Five Beanz, Aunt Bessie’s Duck Fat Roast Potatoes and Squeeze and Stir soups.

None of the products were launched on deal, said Hill.

“It has to be Heinz but it does not have to be half price,” he said.

Other new lines included new sauce products featuring a HP collaboration with Guinness.

Hill reminded delegates that while sauce penetration is very high, by dish it is low, so there is headroom for growth. Another new line is the LOL soft drink, which provides one of your five a day. 

Hill referenced the explosion in media and trend for consumers to be two-screening, tweeting or on social media while watching TV; plus the 62% of mums on Facebook.

Hill said Heinz had genuine brand fans on social media and highlighted the importance of having the right personality and a tone that connects in this channel.

He highlighted the success of the brand’s launch of limited edition Tomato Ketchup with balsamic vinegar on Facebook ahead of its launch in-store and the number of online transactions and media noise.

Developing personal ‘get well soon…’ messages on Heinz soup was also a hit too. 

Hill said the objective was to create ‘talkability’ around the brand and the digital revolution will accelerate.

He said brand marketing is an emerging art not a science and the company’s digital spend has increased from 3% to 20% over the last few years.

In-store companies need insight and ideas that resonate, said Hill.

“You can’t just get shoppers buying price-led deals.”