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Country Head of Spain
IESE has designed a custom leadership program for Nestlé aimed at preparing the company’s future leaders for the challenges of an ever-changing world. Bernard Meunier, the country head for Nestlé Spain and Portugal, describes how his company is adapting to meet changing consumer needs during this period of uncertainty. Meunier, who talks of the rise of a “new consumer,” highlights the need to develop new offers in the consumer goods industry as well as carry out exhaustive studies of each market in order to anticipate and address its future needs.
As Nestlé’s Country Head for Spain and Portugal,
you are leading the company’s efforts in one of the
three European markets most affected by the economic downturn (Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland). Prior to this, you lived through the 1998
ruble crisis in your leadership role at Nestlé’s Russia and Eurasia division. What did you learn from your first experience of managing in a crisis that
you can apply to this downturn?
In a crisis, the most important thing is to act,
quickly and in the right direction. Doing nothing is
the surest way to suffer the full impact of the deterioration of the environment. Not all decisions will be correct and therefore it is essential to constantly monitor the impact of these decisions on our performance and correct those that do not give the
expected results or go in the wrong direction.
For this we need to get closer to our clients and
consumers, understand how much they are
changing as a result of the crisis, and share this
information within the company in real time,
through more frequent, direct and concise communications. In essence, we need to get closer to the market, communicate better and faster, and
act decisively, while continuously monitoring the
impact of our decisions.
What is different about this crisis and how is
Nestlé responding to it?
This crisis is unprecedented in Spain, after more
than 15 years of sustained growth in the economy and private consumption. It is changing the way consumers look at what they buy, where and
how they shop. The consumer has changed more
in the last 12 months than in the previous five
years. We need to adapt our offer of products and
services to this ‘new consumer’ by better differentiating our products from the competition, reinforcing the quality/price perception of our offer and giving to consumers the full benefit of our
superior R&D capabilities in the form of higher
nutritional values for our foods and drinks.
Nestlé has a wide range of products in its portfolio, from Perrier mineral water to Friskies dog food. Does Nestlé have any plans to increase visibility of the company’s umbrella branding? We do more than half our sales with products that
are marketed under the Nestlé corporate brand,
such as Extrafino, Nesquik or Nidina. But we also
have a rich portfolio of independent corporate
brands such as Nescafé and Nesquik, which enjoy high awareness and appreciation. The link between all our products and the Nestlé corporate branding is ensured through the seal of guarantee
and the nutritional compass on the back label.
However, other brands such as Friskies, Perrier
and Buitoni do not boast the Nestlé nest on their
back labels, as their brand essence would not
benefit from such a direct link. That being said,
millions of consumers visit our www.nestle.es
website each year where the full range of brands
and products is clearly visible. As we multiply the
points of contact with our consumers’ on line
(emails, websites, online videos), the link in our
consumers’ minds between Nestlé and all its
brands grows every day.