Hellmann’s mayonnaise: Reinventing brand empathy

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    22-Jul-2016

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Hellmanns is a mayonnaise brand. It sells a lot of mayonnaise over a billion Euros per year around the world. But when we started working on the brand, it faced two issues. Mayonnaise, in many countries, is challenged because it goes against a concern for health. In addition, it is largely a commoditized category. Is a mayonnaise different from any other? As a result, the brand was losing share to private labels, and defended itself by defending its nutrition credentials. To help the brand, we needed to change scope. We needed to think broader than the category and understand where the brand really fitted in the lives of the people who bought it.

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  • h e l l m a n n s How to give purpose to a brand in a commoditized category?

  • a mayonnaise on health claims Hellmanns is a mayonnaise brand. It sells a lot of mayonnaise over a billion Euros per year around the world. But when we started working on the brand, it faced two issues. Mayonnaise, in many countries, is challenged because it goes against a concern for health. In addition, it is largely a commoditized category. Is a mayonnaise different from any other? As a result, the brand was losing share to private labels, and defended itself by defending its nutrition credentials. A spoon of mayonnaise, some ads even suggested, has less calories than a spoon of olive oil It is true, but can mayonnaise ever grow on health claims? Apparently not, and the brand was struggling.

    To help the brand, we needed to change scope. We needed to think broader than the category and the challenge posed by olive oils or private labels and understand where the brand really fitted in the lives of the people who bought it.

    Reinventing empathy To do that, we stayed away from classic market research. In part, because we wanted to involve the marketing team and the ad agency into the discovery. So we recruited heavy users of the brand, and set to talk with them.

    Of course, we prepared the team. We wanted them to run immersive conversations with the people who used their brand, and we wanted them to be ready for them. The preparation revolved around two words. Intimacy because we knew that during face to face, two hours conversation, people often share very deep aspects of their lives. And empathy because these conversations are not just about hearing what people say, but also about listening to what they do not say, what they sometimes do not really know, but what makes up the reality in which the brand nests.

  • an eye-opening immeRsion The team came back from the immersions with a perceptible emotion. One manager lets call him Jack - was particularly excited.

    Minutes into the conversation, he explained, the lady he visited told him that her husband had died recently, from cancer. And she started telling how the whole family was in pain for months apparently happy to find a listening ear to share some of her experience. Jack listened, or course Until he has to shift the course of the conversation: You know, I also wanted to talk about food And to his surprise, her eyes started to glitter: You know in all this pain, cooking is what saved us. In all these months, she made a point to cook every day, and sit at the table with her children. She even talked to Jack about Hellmanns it was one of those she used, and she said she knew she could count on it, and that was important.

    As a seasoned marketer, Jack had done countless consumer visits, but not like this. It was eye-opening. In a more extreme way, of course, she had told him the same as many other users of the brand. Hellmanns had nothing to do with nutrition. But it nurtured something fundamental in their lives: the pleasure to be alive, the joy of caring for others through good food, the importance of offering the best. Jack was rediscovering what the brand had forgotten: the magic of good food in peoples lives.

    So Hellmanns reinvented its story. It refocused on the pleasure of food. But the immersions also inspired Jacks team an ambitious program to source eggs, the primary ingredients in their products, from cage-free farmers. It was a way not throwing away what the brand had tried to build: the idea that good food did not have to be bad, that good quality ingredients could also help good food be healthier for people and for the planet.

    By starting from the essence, the brand was able to come back with a solution to its original business issue.

    Today, the brand is rolling out innovation and communication that focus on taste and on better farming practices one leading to the other. And both resulting in better business for Hellmanns, as the business got back to growth.

    INNATE TOOL:The People immersions CATEGORY: Food ProductCOUNTRY:UK & USA

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