Paul Kelly, head of marketing in the group’s Irish refreshment division talks to John McGee about his marketing challenges.
Describe your role within Unilever.
I lead the growth agenda for our tea and ice-cream brands in Ireland. Together with my team, we aim to develop a deep understanding of consumers and key trends, translating these into powerful, actionable, local insights. This enables us to craft authentic, purposeful brand strategies — connecting with consumers in the most relevant way and developing new concepts and innovative, relevant ideas to excite our brand fans.
What challenges do you face?
Consumers are rightly demanding more from the brands they choose. They want to engage with brands that understand them and speak to their concerns. Another key challenge we face is moving faster than ever before to pivot our brand portfolio into new spaces and channels to stay ahead of consumer’s rapidly-changing purchase and consumption habits.
What are the underlying consumer trends in the ice-cream sector?
Understanding consumer’s demand for greater choice to fit their lifestyle choices is critical. In 2017, for example, we launched our hugely successful Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream to meet the needs of those who are intolerant to diary, as well as the consumers who now opt for the vegetarian and vegan diets.
In addition, the growth of on-the-go snacking led to another Ben & Jerry’s innovation — our ‘Wich’ cookie and ice cream launch as well as the launch of the Magnum Tubs format. This builds into the growing consumer trend of preferring to stay in. Health and well-being are key trends and we have just launched Breyers Delights, a low-calorie, low-sugar, high-protein range of ice creams.
What are the opportunities for Unilever in Ireland?
Our brands need to continue to win the hearts and minds of consumers across Ireland by being consistently relevant to their lifestyle and needs. We must ensure our brands are executed brilliantly across all elements of the consumer journey. Also, very importantly, we must continue to work in strong collaboration with our retail partners to make sure that our brands drive category growth. Innovation is also a massive opportunity, especially around health and well-being and the snacking/on-the-go occasions.
Finally we have a real opportunity to make a difference in how we build purpose in our brands, for example our Lyon’s Tea relationship with Pieta House, which encourages people to talk about their mental health. We are very proud of Unilever’s commitment to ‘brands with purpose’ and truly believe that this forms a large part of our future success.