Pepsico drives growth through digital marketing

Zein Abdalla, CEO Pepsico Europe, revealed the company’s emerging digital marketing strategy at the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Summit 2010 yesterday.

“It’s an area we have still got to learn an awful lot about,” he said.

Abdalla told delegates how Pepsico was driving growth through digital marketing, how it is benefiting communities and collaborating with retailers.

Abdalla said industry was at a critical inflection point with media consumption.

“The consumer is in control and the channel they want is ‘my channel’,” he said.

Abdalla reminded delegates digital technology was a global phenomena with 1.5bn people digitally connected and users outside of developed markets.

“Multi-tasking is the now the norm in a 39-hour day,” he said.

Companies have to engage with consumers if they want to use digital, he said. Advertising is becoming less and less credible, he added, but word of mouth was becoming more important, especially among teens.

“It’s about dialogue and engagement,” he said, and advised delegates, “listen as much you tell”.

Digital was a challenge but also a solution, said Abdalla and he revealed how Pepsico brand Walkers had torn up the rule book with its flavours promotion in 2009.

The brand’s Do us a flavour promotion, which invited consumers to propose new crisp flavours, was launched online.

It had implications for the business and consumers, said Abdalla. Innovation time, for example, was cut from 26 weeks to four weeks to develop six new flavours.

The 360˚ marketing campaign spanned two websites and included online programmes, an iPhone game and Yahoo news programme.

The promotion attracted over 1m entries and 4m visitors to the website and they lingered. It generated 724 pieces of PR coverage worth an estimated $10m and won 27,000 fans on facebook.

The winning flavour was Builder’s Breakfast, which bagged its creator £50,000 plus 1% in sales.

Pepsico followed up the promotion with a digital flavour campaign based around the World Cup including the launch of a Pepsi football channel and Football Hero game, which consumers can play and forward to friends.

According to Abdalla, the initiative was also designed to ‘get into the spirit of Africa’ and the company teamed up with the rock star Bono to sell t-shirts with all proceeds benefiting communities in Africa.

In a similar vein, Pepsi’s Refresh project in the US has benefited local communities and includes a 1000s of Ideas website to allow people to connect with each other.

Abdalla revealed how Pepsico collaborated with Asda on the Walkers flavour campaigns with features on the Asda website and an opportunity for Asda associates to vote for their favourite flavour and win an internal listing.

Abdalla concluded urging delegates to work together to drive digital growth.