Faaez Samadi
Jun 29, 2017

Millennial appeal top of mind for Wrigley and Mars Foods

Global CMOs at both Mars brands say rapid APAC digitisation and connecting with consumers emotionally are key facets of their agendas.

Clarence Mak and Orla Mitchell
Clarence Mak and Orla Mitchell

Food and snack brands must pivot toward millennials and their shifting attitudes toward both categories, according to the global CMOs at two leading Mars brands.

Orla Mitchell, global CMO of gum brand Wrigley, told Campaign Asia-Pacific at Cannes Lions 2017 that consumer consideration and their new path to purchase “has fundamentally changed the way we go to market”, particularly in APAC.

“In huge markets like China, the category of gum and mints is quite challenged,” she said. “Gum is the most impulsive of food categories. If you’re not there, people don’t think about you. Balancing the need to keep the business vibrant, in both traditional and modern channels, as well as trying to unlock the code around e-commerce in the impulse environment, is a journey, and it’s not a one-year journey.”

Mitchell said the brand has moved from “product persuasive” marketing and campaigns to “culturally and emotionally relevant content” to better target today’s millennial consumers, who are more engaged with authentic brands rather than those trying to push something onto them.

Clarence Mak, chief marketing and customer officer at Global Foods at Mars Inc, said Asia is currently a “white space” for the brand as it has no presence there, although it is strong in Australia. One key opportunity is to look to export its food portfolio to Asia, perhaps tailoring its offering to local tastes.

The other, he said, is the data showing that millennials are getting back into cooking.

“They almost see it as an expression of their creativity, so how can we make it easy for them?” he said. “So there’s an opportunity to work with partners like Alibaba or Tencent, there are lots of new cooking apps, cooking live streams and so on. We’re exploring some of these opportunities, but it’s still very early stages.”

Given the cultural headwinds around healthy eating, Mitchell said it is crucial for Wrigley, and Mars generally, to communicate its commitments in this area.

“We really want to communicate that on the confectionary side, we’re a treat,” she said. “We should not be eaten every day, we’re a treat that brings joy and celebration, but actually needs to be dealt with responsibly.”

Similarly, Mak said Global Foods is focusing on the benefits of time spent eating together, particularly at dinner time, which the brand is presenting as a time for family and enjoyment.

“It’s about finding that human truth and coming up with a creative idea around it,” he said. 

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