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Ana Ochoa, Product Manager at Nestlé speaks about Nestlé’s new culture of innovation and explains how SAP is helping the consumer products giant overcome one of its biggest challenges.


Breaking down silos across thousands of brands

The chances are high that you or someone in your household has had a Nestlé product today. With more than two thousand brands in their portfolio and a foot in the market in about 190 countries, Nestlé represents an indisputable force in the food and beverage industry.  Brands such as Nesquik, Nestea, Nespresso, Nescafé are the most obvious, but there are also culinary products like Maggi and Hot Pockets, Häagen-Dazs and Mövenpick ice creams, cereals brands such as Cheerios, Fitness, and Lion, the bottled water from Perrier or S. Pellegrino, baby food from Gerber, and even pet food from Purina.

With their extensive brand and product portfolio, it might surprise you to learn that Nestlé operates almost just as many webpages. A by-product of a long history of acquisitions. Each website features an individual look and feel and uses a standalone CIAM (customer identity and account management) model. With so many customer touchpoints running in parallel and little synergy between the brands, one particular source of frustration for Nestlé was the process of customer registrations.

Customers who registered to receive information for a particular Nestlé brand would later be required to go through a similar registration process – picking a password and entering their personal information – for other Nestlé brands as well. While the dissonance might not have been immediately apparent to a customer unaware of the connection between the brands, the backend showed a different story for Nestlé, whose flat customer profiles meant they were losing out on valuable customer data, and subsequently also marketing and sales opportunities.

To break away with the silo mentality across their brands, Nestlé embarked on a digital transformation initiative led by Nestlé’s Global Digital Hub in Barcelona. In November 2019, SAP invited Nestlé to share insights about their customer experience strategy using SAP solutions.

One of the biggest challenges for Ochoa, the Digital Product Manager leading Nestlé’s transformation project, has been getting the different brands onboard with the idea of sharing data amongst each other. “If you consider that some of these brands are sometimes even competitors, maybe their initial reaction is they don’t want to share information between each other,” explains Ochoa. “In my experience, the push really needs to come from the top, that idea that sharing information means knowing more about your consumers, and that’s a win-win strategy for everybody.” At the end of the day, the intention is to simplify their customers’ lives, while providing Nestlé valuable insights about customers’ preferences and behaviors.

Creating better digital experiences through personalization

According to Ochoa, the success of Nestlé digitalization strategy lies in making customers feel heard and offering them positive experiences. “We want to help out consumers to have a good experience when they get in touch with Nestlé brands, such as during the registration process. That’s really the first impression customers get when they get in touch with a brand.” This means providing a smooth user experience: one that avoids having the customer fill out unnecessarily long forms, answer irrelevant questions, or receive incomprehensible error messages. Smooth experiences, explains Ana, are “where the consumer feels they are naturally following the flow of things.”

Another aspect of this is experience management. This is the critical step where anonymous users have the potential to become loyal customers through meaningful customer interaction, tailored communication, and multichannel online engagement. “If we know from their behavior or from the information provided that a customer is vegetarian, we should not be sending them a newsletter containing a meat-based recipe,” explains Ochoa. To truly deliver on a personalized experience, customers need to feel that Nestlé is listening to them.

An example of Nestlé’s digital customer experience. The customer journey begins at the moment of registration in one of the thousands of brand websites. In this case, the customer registers for Nestlé’s Start Healthy, Stay Healthy campaign website. Registration is smooth and easy, and is completed with just a few clicks.

Immediately after registering, Ana is welcomed back to the homepage with a personalized banner and begins receiving information and promotions relevant to her and her children. At the same time, Nestlé is able to begin progressively building Ana’s user profile as she interacts with Nestlé’s other brands. Future instances of customer interaction are personalized according to the user’s profile.

Scaling personalization with SAP Customer Data Cloud

To achieve this vision, Nestlé relies on SAP Customer Data Cloud (SDC), previously known as Gigya. SCD solutions enable Nestlé to scale personalized digital engagements with permission based, first-party data. The cloud-native portfolio enables businesses to identify and engage consumers across various touchpoints, while simultaneously ensuring data protection standards and localized consumer privacy compliance.  “With this solution, we’re able to share information securely across our many brands to enable personalization at scale,” says Ochoa. Nestlé is able to begin tailoring content for their customers at the exact moment of registration, and to progressively build upon their user profile as they interact with Nestlé’s various brands, allowing Nestlé to create better marketing, sales, and services strategies.

Since beginning the journey towards personalization at scale, Nestlé has successfully deployed their solution in hundreds of locations. Yet the journey is far from over.  “You have to think of every deployment of the solution like its own project. It’s not a plug-and-play solution,” says Ochoa of the mammoth task of bringing together so many brands and markets. But for Ochoa, even the long game is the only game worth playing if it means turning anonymous consumers into loyal customers.

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The SAP Design Talks regularly bring leaders from the international design scene to SAP. The sessions are held on a large stage for an internal audience of employees at various SAP locations around the globe.