Saturday 24 March 2018

Our challenge is to turn something complex into simple, market-ready communications

Sue Lamon Diver tells John McGee about the marketing issues Kerry Group's nutrition and ingredients division faces

Sue Lamon Diver, European director of marketing & communications Kerry Group. Photo: Tony Gavin
Sue Lamon Diver, European director of marketing & communications Kerry Group. Photo: Tony Gavin

With a turnover in excess of €6bn a year and over 23,000 employees, Kerry Group is unquestionably one of the most successful Irish companies in the history of the State.

With a customer base in over 140 countries, the Tralee-headquartered company is a global leader in the ingredients and nutrition industry, serving the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries as well as a leading supplier of customer branded foods to the Irish, UK and other international markets.

As European director of marketing and communications for the Kerry Group's Taste & Nutrition division, Sue Lamon Diver has worked for Kerry Group since 2014.

Prior to joining Kerry, she worked with the Musgrave-owned SuperValu and Centra retail chains while in a previous incarnation she also worked in the public relations industry with companies such as Hill & Knowlton in London and Wilson Hartnell and FleishmanHillard, where she sat on the board of the Dublin-based agency.

What exactly is the taste and nutrition division of Kerry Group?

"It's the largest of the group's three divisions. Our mission is to help our customers enhance the taste of their products while balancing the nutritional needs of their consumers in a way that is unique and uncompromising and is rooted in our food heritage, sensory science and applications know-how.

"The division has over 15,000 staff spread across six continents. This includes chefs, baristas, brewers, mixologists, nutritionists and dieticians, food scientists and technologists, biochemists, and engineers, It also takes in regulatory affairs, sensorial science experts, flavourists and consumer insight experts. The common link? They are all experts in their fields and passionate about creating amazing food and inspiring beverages."

What does your role entail?

"I look after Ireland, the UK, Mainland Europe and Russia, covering the full gambit of marketing and communications activities that are typical of any B2B organisation.

"However this is far from typical B2B marketing. We count some of world's top food, beverage and food-service companies among our customers, so we are constantly challenging ourselves to deliver communications that appeal to these very marketing savvy organisations.

"Ultimately, it is about ensuring the team produces a well thought through plan, which delivers against our business strategy.

What specific challenges do you face?

"The food and beverage industry is extremely complex, whether you are changing the ingredient deck of an existing product, solving a production or sourcing issue or looking to completely revamp your menu or develop a new, innovative and differentiating product - we can do it all.

"Our challenge is to make what can sometimes be really complex into something that is simple and easy to understand for our customers who often do not have a food science or technology background.

"Once we have developed these simple, easy-to-understand market-ready communications, our next challenge is to translate, both literally and culturally for use across many different markets."

"As marketers, we also work hard to bring simplicity to our communications. Additionally, to address the multicultural market in which we operate, many of our team is hired from across the region, to provide us with insight into many different cultures and access to many different native speakers including French, Spanish, German, Danish, Italian, Polish and Russian.

"We also work very closely with our sales teams, to ensure that our communications activities are targeted at the right people, in the right role and in the right companies. B2B marketing is about ensuring, you are talking to the right person, at the right time in their decision- making process."

How do these challenges compare with those faced by the Kerry Group's consumer foods division?

"There are similarities. For example, the macro food trends and market fragmentation issues are the same, but the two are fundamentally very different businesses.

"Kerry Foods brings its products from inception right through to the consumer, where we are here to partner and enable our customers, to improve and innovate their portfolio, so we are always a step or two away from the end-user."

What competitive challenges does the division face?

"The food and beverage industry is seeing increased market fragmentation, channel diversification and growing demand for niche categories.

"Food and beverage providers are continuing to seek innovative solutions to meet consumer requirements, whether they are for cleaner label products or sugar reduction, or indeed any of the key macro food and beverage trends. This has contributed to significant marketplace disruption."

What are the underlying consumer challenges that food companies face at the moment?

"The macro trends and needs we are seeing, which we need to help our customers address, include 'clean label', 'free from' (eg gluten), no added sugar, natural, more nutritious, authentic, sustainably-produced products."

Sunday Indo Business

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