Kraft Heinz: ‘If we don’t have consumers at the centre of everything then we’ve lost’

The food giant’s chief growth officer, Diana Frost, says tech should be viewed as an enabler and that marketers’ core focus must always be the customer.

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Marketers are often accused of getting distracted by shiny new things and focusing on the latest tech, and what it can do, rather than the bigger picture. And often without thinking about how it will actually benefit the end consumer.

But for Diana Frost, chief growth officer at Kraft Heinz in North America, tech should never be the starting point.

“I love all these conversations about tech. But tech is an enabler,” she said, talking at Cannes Lions today (21 June). “Never forget humanity. If we don’t have humans and consumers at the centre of everything we do then we’ve lost.”

To ensure Kraft Heinz is organised so consumers are at the heart of all its thinking, the business has implemented an agile framework, which she admitted was “easier said than done” given the size and scale of the company.

But the way it has worked for Kraft Heinz is to organise projects around “key focused teams that are cross functional in nature”.

“If you’re tackling a key challenge and a business problem you put a focused team on it,” she explained. “It’s not that it’s 10% of their time, not 5% of their time – it is their entire piece and you change the governance structure around it. You change accountability around it.”

Marketing equals innovation and to foster that it comes from engagement and talent first.

Diana Frost, Kraft Heinz

It enables teams to be much more creative, she added, as it creates fewer barriers.

“Bureaucracy kills creativity. If you have to get 27,000 people to approve something that you do, or if you’ve got a matrix organisation that makes you go here for this brief and here for that brief, and it’s not just one brief, that’s what kills creativity,” she said.

“Think about it from a product innovation [point of view], think about it in the lens of creativity and communication. But also think about it in the lens of disruption and supply chain and innovation through the entire value chain.”Heinz launches first-ever global brand platform

Reframing risk-taking

Risk-taking is often heralded as the way to drive innovation but Frost said for marketers to feel comfortable enough to experiment, risk-taking must be “reframed” as learning.

“Marketing equals innovation and to foster that it comes from engagement and talent first,” she said, adding there must be the right processes and systems in place to enable marketers to be creative.

She said Kraft Heinz is “seeding” a lot of ideas and innovations knowing many won’t succeed, but if one out of 10 projects is a success then it “transforms the company”.

“But if you don’t have that [framework in place] and you just ask people to take risks it’s not going to happen because from this vantage point people see it as a performance review,” she explained.

“One thing as part of Kraft Heinz’s transformation is creativity has to go through the entire marketing function. I see marketing as the chief integrator, the chief collaborator and it’s breaking down those silos to enable innovation across the entire value chain as opposed to just within a creativity function.”



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