Heinz UK and Ireland president, Dave Woodward, highlighted four key trends shaping his business in a low growth economy and shared how the company’s recent innovations responded to consumer needs.
The four trends are:
- empowered consumers
- fluid society
- health and wellness
- back to basics
On empowered consumers, Woodward highlighted the growth of the digital channel and smart phones and some branded responses such as Nike inviting consumers to design their own trainers. “Consumers are the co-author of your brand,” he said.
In a fluid society, word of mouth and sound bites were key, and retailers are providing wider food choices such as Asda stocking a Polish food range and Waitrose offering the entry level Essentials range, said Woodward.
On health and wellness, Woodward said there was a need for change via education and highlighted Marks & Spencer’s Fuller for Longer range and Heinz’s own reduced salt range of classic soups as recent developments in helping to set a healthy eating agenda.
Back to basics means focusing on sustainable ways of living, said Woodward, and he pointed to Fairtrade and local initiatives as examples of progress in this field.
According to Woodward, there is a need for innovation driven by insights. He showcased recent Heinz examples, including Heinz Beans Snap Pots, worth £35m at retail and 9m units in 2009; plus the new fridge pots. “Consumers are looking for convenience,” he said.
In Salad Cream the company has launched its first flavour innovation, developed by a brand manager; while Heinz Tomato Ketchup is now packed in clearer, lightweight bottles.
Woodward said the brand’s multi-channel Has to be Heinz campaign had driven emotional engagement and a 16% increase in the sales of the four icon products featured.
“We have achieved and maintained our highest market share in four years,” he said, “we have put it at the core of our business.”
Woodward stressed the importance of attracting the best people to work in the sector and said Heinz was recruiting more graduates, trainees and apprentices and its employee engagement had rise from 63% two years ago to 82% today.
Woodward revealed Heinz is launching a leadership training programme for 1,000 managers – its biggest training initiative to date. The programme will help future development, he said.
Summing up, Woodward offered three take-aways: “Get closer to customers and the trends that are shaping behaviour, drive innovation on all fronts and focus on nurturing people.”