Annie Lucchitti

Marketing Manager Streets, Weis & local brands

How to stay relevant in the FMCG industry

Duration: 7 Minutes

During her keynote, Annie talks about how to remain relevant and consumer-minded in the FMCG industry. She highlights the importance of "keeping the finger on the pulse", and understand what drives consumers to buy our products.

She discusses the importance of putting the consumer at the center of the strategy, and to ultimately find how to solve their problems with our products. 

More about Annie Lucchitti

Annie Lucchitti has spent the majority of her career in FMCG navigating a challenging landscape and keeping focused on building brands for long-term growth & sustainability. Across multiple companies, Annie has launched multiple new brands, re-invigorated heritage brands and launched over 100 products into supermarkets across the country. Today, Annie is leading the Streets & Weis Ice Cream portfolios to new heights at Unilever; specialising in local innovation and licensing with a strong love for consumer insights.

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Video Transcript

Hi, everyone, my name is Annie, and I'm currently a marketing manager at Unilever, working on local ice cream brands in Australia and New Zealand. I've spent most of my career working across some fantastic local and global brands in FMCG. And the reality is all brands have one thing in common. You're constantly searching to make sure that you've found the true consumer insight to keep your brand meaningful and relevant to consumers over time.

The reality is that growth in the FMCG sector over the last 10 years has slowed over decades prior because our lives are changing more rapidly than ever before and launching brands has never been easier. So it's safe to say competition has been fierce and working in a framework of setting a strategy and spending 12 months executing one PowerPoint or piece of paper. It just no longer exists as a business or brand, You have to remain agile at every level of the strategy to ensure that you're both responding to the market. That could be changing before your eyes, but also creating value with the resources you have. Resources aren't finite, and every time you might need to pivot or react to the market, you don't have an endless stream of resources that you can add to your pool. So you've got to make what you've got work harder for you. When we're talking about gelati and thinking about the differences between local and global brands.

On one hand, you might say local brands have the ability to be more agile because they have more operational flexibility in that. If they are made locally and run locally, you are one step closer to your end consumer. And it may mean that you're not relying on shipping schedules or containers being available to book, but it also means that you need to be sharper with your insights. You may not have the backing of a global brand that can mass democratise at once, and at the moment they launch a product to that they start speaking. Consumers listen inherently because their voices are so much louder.

However, being a local brand, it does mean that your purpose and your soul vision is about ensuring that one clear geographical group of people are being served very well, which does remove one layer of consumer segmentation. But regardless whether you're a local brand or a global brand, every great strategy comes from having your finger on the pulse and then strategically executing as brilliantly as possible. So let's break that down. Having your finger on the pulse is not a new term by any means. It's fundamentally the basic point of ensuring you've accurately analysed your environment internally and externally. And you know what is truly going to solve something for your own consumer, whoever that may be. When we look at the external environment, this may mean considering new channels that are in strong growth in FMCG, that means discounters, hypermarkets like Costco or even e-commerce platforms which enable delivery of products that years ago you may not have thought you wanted delivered, but now because you can you will see example of that is ordering ice cream at home. Five years ago, if you've really been craving ice cream while watching Netflix, you might have need to go needed to go to a local supermarket or convenience store to pick one up. On these days, You can do it all from the couch ordering on UBER EATS and probably spending a little more than you would have if you'd gone in a store just for that convenience.

In FMCG that can mean making a decision between investing in research and development funds into a longer term, meaningful solution, like developing a sugar free alternative formulation which will take resource time, expertise, or is it simply about creating a new, exciting flavour that will make consumers want to run into the freezer and pick it up like birthday cake, which was a great learning flavour in 2020 and by 2021 it might be yesterday's news. OK, so now we got our fingers on the pulse. What do we mean when we talk about execution strategy? If we know the consumer pain point we're solving for the remainder is solving how we're going to bring the best possible solution to consumers and involve them in. Traditionally companies would have taken that piece of paper and gone out and said, we're going to execute it, start to finish the formulation, we need to hit this and the end product will result like this. But what we do know is it's never the case. Along the way, you're going to have bumps and inevitably you need to change from that day one picture page.

Traditionally, companies would take that piece of paper and go out and try and execute it best. They can start to finish because they thought so much in advance at the start of the project about what's going to make success work or how we're going to get there, that actually you don't want to pivot because you've spent so much time focussed already on selling in the solution. But the reality is we know it's never the case in practise. It's a bit of a messy loop at best. So we need to bring the consumer in at each stage of the journey co-create the solution, checking on how they're going to react as each implication comes to light. Sometimes we glide over the fact that an internal implication has changed the external solution and we haven't actually gone back to check with consumers.

So if you're really going to solve for consumer pain point, the consumer needs to be a real voice in the process. And this can be on any element. There's a range of research tools that will enable you to do this. You really do see the proof is in the pudding when products truly resonate with consumers, the moment then launches announced consumers are already excited. You can see that they're talking and media outlets want to report on this news. They want to share it not just as a hashtag ad, but as a general public service announcement. These outlets are essentially saying, hey, consumers, you will ask for it. Here it is. And they know that their readers really want to know about this. They don't need to be paid to do so. It's exactly what happens when Apple launches new iPhones. You see that there is this consumer following where they want to leak the new features. They want to be a part of the reviews and telling other consumers whether or not it's worth it or not. They're the top articles each time this comes around.

At the same time, you can see some really exciting novelty products like Golden Gate lime flavoured popcorn. That's just so exciting that consumers go. We want to share it with our family and friends. And it is pretty exciting to watch as it may be and as low involvement as it may be. But as a consumer magic, the reality is that brand can be local or global. It's just going to be the answer to consumers demands or desires. That's when strategy is really working. So think about it. Think about your strategy doesn't solve a consumer pain point. What is the SO WHAT of your product or service? Because if you can't answer that, then it's really going to be your consumers who will be saying, so what?

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