In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to share experience, insights and advice with your peers so we can all learn from one another. With this in mind, we are having conversations with members across various sectors to understand how themselves and their teams have been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, what they have learned from it and how they continue helping their customers.
For this week’s instalment in the series we’ve chatted to Fiona Sweeney, Strategic Marketing Director, End Use Market, Europe & Russia, Kerry Taste & Nutrition.
MII: Hi Fiona, can you tell us about how have you been adapting your marketing activities during the COVID-19 outbreak?
The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused far and wide socio-economic change & disruption but even in the uncertain landscape, there was still a need for a safe and continuous food supply. Maintaining that supply presented our customers with unforeseen challenges on a daily and even hourly basis.
The immediate need for clear information and insight to help navigate the crisis led to the creation of our COVID Insight Task Force, dedicated to studying the impact of COVID-19 on the Food & Beverage Industry, in order to provide guidance for our business on how to respond to the evolving landscape and continue to support our customers.
As we move through the different phases of the pandemic, the continuous change to the F&B landscape requires our Marketing team to be consistently agile and insight led. They need to pivot and think creatively about how we communicate and engage with our customers in the new virtual world and to ensure our messages are relevant to their immediate needs and how we can support them, whilst also providing actionable insight to help them plan further ahead.
How have you been engaging with your team?
The COVID-19 crisis has caused many changes and uncertainty in all our work and personal lives. As with many others, the Kerry Marketing team have been adapting to working from home full time. Ensuring the team feel supported and informed throughout the crisis has been a top priority.
As we have had to be creative in how we communicate and engage with our customers in the new virtual world, it was important to adopt the same mindset for our own team. We have all quickly adapted to virtual meetings and chats, leveraging new and existing digital tools to have regular formal and informal updates. We have even found the time for the occasional quiz and quarantini!
We all miss the fun and creative vibe of our Global Centre in Naas and look forward to the day when we can work side by side again soon. In the meantime, we continue to stay connected and focussed on our shared purpose of supporting our customers to create nutritious sustainable food.
What have you learned from a marketing perspective from COVID 19?
The scale and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is so great that many short-term behaviours may well continue as longer-term trends. With the disruption in our world today and the uncertainty of tomorrow, now more than ever before there is critical role for Marketing to step up and provide their organisations with actionable insight to help navigate through the current turbulence and also with foresight to help plan for the future and maintain relevance in whatever the ‘new normal’ will be.
How have your work practices changed? What will you do differently going forward?
As with many other businesses around the world the rapid shift to virtual working as a result of COVID-19 has accelerated and advanced our digital enablement agenda in Kerry. We have found new and creative ways to interact with our customers, to bring to life how Kerry can help them. We have found faster more efficient ways to communicate internally and to get things done. We are also talking more and more often, supporting each other through the uncertainty of the crisis. All of these changes are positively impacting our team and our business and in the ‘new normal’ post COVID-19 will continue and evolve.
Has your brand purpose been challenged by COVID 19? How?
As a world leader in taste and nutrition, our Purpose is ‘Inspiring Food and Nourishing Life’. Inspiring food is about our innovation and using our R&D expertise and technologies to lead the industry. Nourishing life is about our role with all our stakeholders: our employees, our customers, communities and the environment. ‘Inspiring Food and Nourishing Life’ is our true “north star” and throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic, our purpose continues to unite and guide us. It has been at the core of every decision we have made and every action we have taken as we are rally together across the globe to ensure the health and safety of our employees, to ensure continuity of supply for our customers and to support our local communities.
What brands or businesses have you admired through this crisis?
There are so many business and brands that standout in my mind for their efforts throughout the pandemic to acknowledge the hard work of their people or to give back to their local communities. I have to say how very proud I am of how my own organisation has responded throughout the crisis.
Thousands of Kerry employees continue to work at the front line of food production focused on delivering for our customers and keeping food in millions of homes around the world. In addition, Kerry employees have been working within their local communities to support local charities and frontline workers – donating PPE and food and producing hand sanitiser.
This last week has also seen the launch of the Kerry ‘My Community’ programme which builds on the great work already being done by our colleagues by pledging further financial, material and also physical support to our local communities across the world.