San Francisco—Kraft Foods doesn’t necessarily come to top of mind when one thinks of direct-to-consumer food marketers, but Paula Sneed, executive vice president, global marketing resources and initiatives at the packaged goods manufacturer, said Kraft Foods has countless brands that market directly to customers, from coffee and coffee accessories cataloger Gevalia to its “Kraft Food and Family” magazine.
Indeed, Sneed said that being a mass-marketed manufacturer isn’t enough. She shared five key lessons Kraft Food has learned from its experience in direct marketing:
1) It’s all about the insights. It’s not enough to identify customers by demographics; marketers must understand the hows and whys of customers.
2) Eliminate spending entitlements and break down silos. No specific tactic deserves an automatic go-ahead, Sneed said.
3) Don’t fall into the “glitzy technology” trap. “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” said Sneed, adding that Kraft Foods hasn’t been afraid to test new technologies but has also proceeded with caution. “I always tell my team that you can fail, but fail fast and fail cheap,” Sneed said.
4) Relationships are possible with any product. You would never imagine a relationship could be formed with Velveeta cheese, but that consumers now think of the cheese when it comes to making macaroni-and-cheese or nachos, Sneed said—a result of Kraft’s carefully conceived and executed marketing tactics.
5) Be bold and confident but also be patient and resilient. When you’re far ahead of the crowd, there’s not always a lot of support, Sneed cautioned attendees. For instance, when Kraft launched its Website in 1997, critics said women surfers would never constitute a large enough crowd to justify the site, which targets women. It didn’t take long for those critics to be proved wrong.
Based on her own experience at Kraft, Sneed sent attendees away with three challenges: to form new partnerships and stretch existing ones, to spend money to uncover new insights, and to keep pushing the boundaries.