In this episode, we speak with Anthony Low, a former VP at Nestlé, about his experiences in building global brands and driving business growth across different countries such as Japan, China and Malaysia.
About our guest:
Mentor at Endeavor / Board Member at TIME dotCom Bhd. / Executive Coach to CEOs & Business Owners / Advisory Board Member / Former VP at Nestlé Global HQ, Switzerland
Anthony Low was a former Vice President at Nestlé Global HQ based in Switzerland, responsible for Managing a Complex set of Markets covering 115 Countries, 17 time zones in Asia, Oceania, Africa & Middle East regions.
Over 39 years of Regional experience in Business Strategy, Sales Management, Supply Chain Operations, Branding & Marketing, Innovation & Premiumization, Corporate Affairs, Regional Management, and Corporate Leadership.
Currently, he's a Mentor at Endeavor, Anthony loves to share key perspectives & deep insights from his Global leadership experience. He is an Executive Coach to 23 CEOs/Business Owners as well as a Mentor to 28 Start-Up/Scale-Up Entrepreneurs.
Effective Mon. 25th July 2022, Anthony Low was appointed as a Board Member of TIME dotCom Bhd. He assumed the role of Independent, Non-Executive Director at TIME dotCom Bhd.
As Board Member, Anthony serves as a sounding board, providing Strategic guidance, highlighting Risks, Changes, Opportunities & needs for Pivoting as well as Sharing expertise, deep Insights & Feedback to the Leadership Teams.
In today’s episode, we discuss :
- Why Anthony stayed in Nestle for 30+ Years
- The key success behind Nestle : Understanding what consumers want through consumer research
- Case study on how KitKat increase 45% sales in a year with consumer research
- Case Study of Reformulation of KitKat in China by listening to customer feedback
- How Nestlé build a premium brand
- How to turn research findings into actionable strategies
- How Nestlé use data to innovate new business model
- Case Study of Nestlé campaign in China working with Alibaba on singles day
- How Nestlé build brands that resonate with consumer
- Lighting round - Advice for aspiring marketers
- Lighting round - Key metrics that's being monitor
- Lighting round - Recommended marketing book
Where to find Anthony Low:
Where to find Julie:
Welcome to the data-driven marketing podcast. This podcast is brought to you by Vase.ai. I'm Julie, your host on this podcast and in every single episode. We talk to industry leaders, marketers, and growth experts in Asia about how they use data to enhance their ROI in their marketing activities, and today joining me is Anthony, former vice president at Nestle Global HQ. Thank you for joining us today. Welcome Anthony.
Hi Julie, How are you doing? I'm very happy to be able to share it with you. I think your podcast topic is very inspiring and valuable. I look forward to sharing it. My experience with you and the audience
Thank you. Knowing you for a couple of years now, Anthony, this is something the audience would love to know: you spent more than thirty plus years at Nestle, and this is really not something common that we see that we see. Can you share with us why you stay for such a long time in one company?
Well, the year was 1981, and that's how I started at Nestle. My first job was reporting to the managing director of Nestle Malaysia as a special projects director, looking at the entire organisation to see areas for improvement, rationalisation, and innovation.
And that seems to be a great starting point for me, so I will share a slice of my life through the long journey at Nestle, and hopefully this will benefit you and the audience.
The first project I was looking at was when I realised that our distribution cost as a percentage of our Market Nestle Malaysia operation was on the very high side. Why? Because there were 13 AH warehouses in each of the states in Malaysia and East Malaysia, and each of the regional sales managers wanted to have a warehouse, it was almost like keeping money below the pillow, and when you needed to achieve your sales target, you just delivered the stocks that were in the warehouse. All this inventory, as well as products that are expiring in the warehouse, is costing us a very high distribution cost as a percentage of our sales revenue. I came up with a proposal, which was accepted and supported. By my boss, who is the CEO, but of course not very popular with many of my other colleagues who see me as a paratrooper from up there, and with the support I launched.
The first ever and most innovative central factory warehouse in Malaysia It was innovative because it only existed at that time in western countries in Europe and the US but not in Asia. And in Malaysia, it was way ahead of time. It was a high bay warehouse fully automated robotic palletization, and by building that fully automated innovative groundbreaking warehouse not seen in Malaysia or Asia, we managed to close down all the 13 warehouses in Malaysia and East Malaysia, and we deliver from this, particularly the high bay warehouse, which is located among 3 factories in Shah Alamba Batutiga. That warehouse has been in operation since 1981, and I am referred to as the father of the central factory warehouse whenever you talk to Nestle Malaysia colleagues. It is still operating, and it helps drive our distribution costs as a percentage of total revenue.
Now, you asked me, "Why do I stay for almost 38 years in a company? It feels like only a few years ago when I joined Nestle Malaysia, simply because every 2-3 years they gave me a new assignment, a new responsibility, and a new country to work in. I keep on moving, and that's why I have been a sales manager. I have been a marketing manager for an average of 2–3 years. They gave me a new role, including production manager in the PJ factory, making Milo for Malaysia, and I was there for six months before giving up sales and marketing. It's very clear that I love my job. I'm very passionate. Simply because I was surrounded by bosses at that time who trusted me, empowered me, and gave me a lot of space to grow and bring innovation to the company.
And I love what the company was doing at that time and still is, which is enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future for all of us. So for me, the bosses have been great mentors and coaches, and the company is clearly what I love to do and continue to do, and in Nestle, as you know, it's like when you throw a baby in the air. The baby comes down laughing and not crying because the baby knows he or she is in good hands. Nestle quality is the cornerstone of Nestle. food safety and food compliance. For us, creating share value at Nestle means that for a company to be successful over the long term, we should continue to create value for shareholders. But not only shareholders but also society and the community create value, and that's why it is a company I trust and a company I have confidence in because it brings quality of life.
And a healthier future for all of us. So clearly, if you look at a slice of my life towards the end of my life, You can say it's 38 years. I spent about 6 years in the global head office, where we are responsible for helping the CEOs and the leadership team in the countries. We have 115 countries under us for Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East, each with 15 time zones. So as a slice of my life, I'd like to share with you that even towards the tail end of my career of 38 years, I was getting up at five o'clock to go jogging. Ah, autumn, summer, winter, spring, even in the snow. I'm joking at five o'clock and six o'clock. I am ready for the office. I'm in the office at six a.m., and the security guard in the global office is always saying, "Ah, Mr. Lar is already in the office because he's the first one. In the global office that has about 4000 people, at six o'clock when I'm in the office at six fifteen, my phone will ring because the phone call comes from different markets and some of them are ready to go home. They want to talk to me.
Some of them start coming into the office. So when you have 15 time zones, That's what life is all about, and I just want to share with you a slice of that, even towards the pale end of my last chapter of my long journey at Nestle. Ah. I loved what I was doing, and I gave the best version of myself. The reason I stopped was because my mom was very ill with stage 4 cancer.
And I wanted to spend some years with her, so I decided to tell the company that I wanted to go back home to Malaysia to be with my mom because I was travelling all over the world where my father passed away and I did not want to make the same mistake with my mother, so I came back, and I was very blessed to spend 2 years with her at her sickbed, and then she passed away two years later, because of the mentors and coach. I have a Nestle who empowered me and inspired me. I continue to be a mentor to many start-up and scale-up entrepreneurs, about 26 of them. And I'm an executive coach to twenty-nine CEOs and business owners. So I continue to love contributing, um, helping people grow and develop in their businesses, so my 39 years of leadership feel like only a few years ago, and simply because every year I get my best and I love to contribute to see other people as well as the organisation continue to improve and grow.
Wow, I think what you say definitely rings a bell. We need to work in fields when companies that we really align with have the passion, and if and when we have that, we can cover them.
Anthony, you mentioned something very interesting, right? So every 2 to 3 years, you change roles. It definitely sounds exciting. But as you give some examples just now you give in from stills marketing to productions. Um, ah, leadership, right? So I am curious to know your view on this. So certain people will choose their career choices by staying in the same field because they believe that by staying in the same field they can keep on going up and up, but it seems like you are going around in different environments. How do you see? How do you see the growth in your career when it comes to generalists versus specialists?
I would say today's millennials (Gen Z and Gen Y) have quite a challenging environment. Ah, clearly they don't see a lifelong and Employment, like working at Nestle for 38 years, is something that they aspire to do. They will probably look for 2 or 3 years, and I will give my best here. I will see whether the organisation has the most competitive pay. I will see if they encourage flexibility and work from home some days. I want to see whether they give me the right training so that I have the skills to do the job. Do I have an oversight assignment sometimes? I will say if I put myself in the shoes of the millennials and Gen Z and Gen Y, today's environment is different. I was fortunate and blessed to have a different responsibility. As I said, I cover almost every aspect of general management in production, sales, marketing, and corporate communication. I was responsible for a global CEO.
Role and clearly helping markets grow. That makes it more exciting and rewarding each time you see an opportunity to progress and an opportunity to bring innovation. Um, to the workplace. And what is also important is that I have people around me who are great mentors and great coaches, and I have kept my connection with them up to today. Even though many of them are in their 90s, I still keep in touch with them. I visit them if I can because I appreciate the time that they took to support me, push me on, encourage me, and so on. Is valuable for me, and I want to do the same for many others, whether they're entrepreneurs, CEOs, or business owners.
Thank you for sharing that. um I wanted to shift a little bit. Um, so Iet you have 38 experiences with Nestle. Ah, I think we are all very interested to know. Ah, ah, deeper about how Nestle keeps consistently building global brands. We saw a lot of cases where some brands grew to the top and then went down, but it seems like Nestle keeps being the market leader here. So can you tell us a little bit more about that?
I would say at Nestle, even though we have 2000 brands and over 12000 products, some of which you are familiar with, like Milo Maggie in Malaysia, many of the products are sold all over the world. Many of them are not available in Malaysia because we tailor our products for consumer needs specifically in Malaysia. I'd like to share it with you. The reason why we are so successful in our product launches and have a very high success rate when it comes to new product launches is simply because we start off with something very important. Consumer research calls for a focus group interview where we get together our target consumers, maybe something like 20 different batches and many many batches. and then we let them taste our product. And there are many competitors products, and we call this blind taste testing, which means that they don't know which product it is because we don't show the packaging, the brand, or the label. Let them do a blind taste test.
And we'd let them do an evaluation based on taste, texture, and fill ah by ah, our new product versus competitors products, and Nestle will then show after they have finished everything we would then put. If there is packaging beside it and a brand beside it, they will know which product they have been preferring and rate that as the best. That is why we started with this research. Consumer taste testing blind means it must have more than 60% preferred blind taste test before we can launch the Nestle product. If a product does not pass a sixty-four blind taste test, We will not even discuss it. We will send it back for renovation and innovation until it has improved in the next testing session. Once it is past 64 A and has been tested by Several focus group interviews with target consumers will follow, and then we'll do a selling price calculation. Ah, which is a very methodical selling price based on what price you want to sell.
What revenue generator is based on the quantity where you're going to sell it, and then it must have a minimum 60% pfm, e.g., brand building, market research, etc. Ah, improving the product and understanding the target consumers, so the CEO is the one that approved the selling price calculation, and if it doesn't have at least a minimum of 16% pfm,
Then it will not be approved because then you're launching a product that doesn't have the right oxygen for the brain, and the brain is like a living creature that needs oxygen to survive and continue growing. So. The CEO will look at a minimum of 16% PFM behind a brand, and for the next three years, you are going to support the brand to ensure success. That's why we continue to do well with new product launches because we We believe a brand is the most valuable asset a company has, and we will continue to invest in and build a brand to make sure that it continues to delight its target consumers.
If I could give you another example, I would like to do this. Um, ah, by illustrating for you? Ah, an example in Japan.
We have launched Kickcat for many years, and our positioning is called "Take a Break, Have a Break, Have a Kickcat," which you have seen globally all over the world, and we have used this whether you go to Australia, or you go to the US, or you go to France, have a break, and have a kitcat. Somehow we were struggling with that tech line, which is a global tech line, in Japan because they don't understand. Why are you so lazy that you need to take a break every time? Can't you continue to work hard and not think about taking a break all the time? Ah, we decided to go and see these tigger consumers where they are, and they are normally sitting around. Waiting for their turn for the entrance exam at the university there. We sampled our kitcat and gave away a free sample for them to try, and we were listening to the conversation that they had with each other. And then we noticed something that is a very powerful human truth: when they took our Kickke product, they were offering it to their close friends and saying "Kickcat keto katsu.
KitKatKickkcat keto katu, so we asked them. What do you do? Do you say that to your friends when you give them a kickcat? They say it means kickcat. I wish you success in your entrance exam for the university, so we said that is a human truth. That can be an honourable brand proposition. So why don't we start a campaign in Japan? Ah, we were there in Kobe, we were there in Tokyo, and we said, "Let's roll out in every city in Japan. We launched a campaign called "Kickcat Quito Cut Su," and guess what? Sales for that year shot up 45%, and suddenly the brand became very relevant to the Japanese youth target group. I bring you success, which is an example. Ah, how you leverage understanding into insights into a brand's ownable brand proposition and build a campaign around it.
Another example I'd like to share with you is very clearly that, as I shared just now, every 2–3 years I'm giving a different function a different responsibility. And over the years, I have covered every function of management that I'm familiar with because I've been exposed to it. Um, and including ah, many many countries and many many different marketplaces, I have travelled.
Literally all the hundred and fifteen countries within Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East, I was the managing director of Nestle Singapore and very happy there. My family was very well settled, and my kids were in international school. Um, and then my global CEO came to visit me at Changichunny airport and wanted to have dinner with me and my wife.
Which came as a surprise; I did not expect it, and during the dinner he said to me and my wife, I want your husband to pack up his backpack and go to China tomorrow. So we say, "We just started in Singapore for seven months, and you want me to pack up my bag and go?" Yes, you can go first, and your wife and your two daughters can join later, after the semester is over. You go first, and you pack up your back because China is a very big market. Very important to Nestle, and we are struggling with our sales and revenue generation. So we need you and my wife to go there immediately tomorrow. I look at my wife and say, "Shall I say no and then maybe join another company after that?" and my wife says, "No, you love Nestaly so much, I don't see you joining another company. You better say yes to your boss. He did a special trick. Ah, to come to Singapore to have dinner and to persuade you to go to China tomorrow. So after a few days, I replied. "Okay, I'll pack up my back and go immediately, but guess what happened when I arrived in China?"
I suddenly became responsible for the commercial operation of the Greater China region, which is Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and I realised that we have already started building factories and making production. Of a number of products that require me to confirm whether they are the right product to grow the Nestlenestle business in China, for the sake of time, I'm going to focus on one that I thought was going to be a big benefit. I will bring the insights to you. Ah, Julie, and to the audience who are listening, this is our big KitKatkickcut factory in China in Qanji. Ah, we build a big one because we say, "Well, you know, in China, with 1.3 billion people, they can eat a lot of KitKatkickca, and we also sell a lot of kika in many other countries, so surely the Chinese know how to eat kika, unfortunately. Ah, the factory was big. Production was huge, but the Chinese were not queuing up to buy Kit Kat in the biki can, and we run the risk of destroying value because the investment is so huge.
With very little consumption of Kitkat in China. So the first thing I did was to say I don't want any presentation on why this product, KitKatKickcat, is not doing well in China. I want to hear from the Chinese consumers who have bought the product. Why are they not continuing to eat and buy our Kick Katcap product? So I started off walking the street in China. And, at the time, the strait was not just the 130 Chinese cities; it was all the coastal cities from Tianjin to Guangzhou, all the way to Hainan Island, along the coast. Interior, including Chongqin Wuhan all the way to Uruuchi, I walked through 100 cities and spoke to a lot of consumers. I gave them products to sample. There were many products to sample that we were producing in China, and I asked for their opinions. I gave me a focus group interview with twenty-three groups of Chinese, which you gave to them, and then you asked them for feedback.
And let me summarise this feedback on one product that is supposed to be an improvement over the Kickcat in China. The feedback was, "Why are you not buying this kitcat?" 1 roman be product very cheap 1 roman b and a feedback among hundreds and hundreds of Chinese consumers because it is too sweet and has too much chocolate. We Chinese don't like too much sweetness or chocolate, and the chocolate gives us heat and a sore throat. Salt truth and pimples on our face, so we want it to be less sweet and less chocolate. We want it to be three times bigger than the current KitKat Kickcat because the current Kickcat is only two fingers long, and that is too small. We want it three times. Bigger. So.
After spending a lot of time talking to hundreds of consumers, I then called my team in China in Beijing and said, "Technical director, I want you. To reformulate for me a new product, leave Kickket alone because maybe the time is not right to sell a lot of it. We will make it available. Whoever the consumer wants to kickcat as it is, but I wanted you to make me a 1 Romanbi product three times bigger than the current 2 finger kit cat, and I want you to find a way to enrope. It makes it a bit like wafer-less chocolate. Less sweet, and we introduce what we call aation, where we endrrope it with very little chocolate, and we introduce a new product delemate for China Call. nestle crispy sharp crispy sharp ah with chocolate wafer Nestle a crispy, sharp chocolate wafer If you Google it, you'll find it because we launched that product.
It became a star, and all Chinese consumers wanted to have it. We could not produce enough of it. We run 1 shift production, 2 ship production, tree shift continuous production, and we build additional capacity.
Ah, in Tianji and elsewhere, we could not cop up with consumer demand. It became the biggest brand of Nestle Crispy Chocolate Sharp Wafers.
It became a very successful product launch in China, and if you visit China today, USC is the biggest brand and biggest product in the chocolate wafer category, so that is to illustrate that to you when you listen. To the consumer, you can innovate, renovate, pivot, and find new ways of delighting the target consumers in China.
That is definitely a very inspiring story. Ah, thank you so much, Antony, for sharing that I wanted to visit back a little bit on your first case study you mentioned. Um, when you do that, it launches. You do a blank-case task. And then they have to pasture the sixty-four tests, and then up to that, you do the selling press calculation, and you mentioned a word called PFMA. Am I getting that correctly? Ah.
That is correct: product fix marketing expenses. Product fix marketing expenses cover your brand building, your advertising, and your campaign launch.
Your market research your consumer research your trade audit. Ah, your market share audit, which we get on a monthly basis. Ah, it will cover all expenses for tracking trust scores. How is your brand being trusted compared to competitors'? Ah, right across versus competition.
Gotcha, and you may, ah, lastly, always put the site at 16% of the budget for the PFM, and that will definitely resonate with what you mentioned as the brand you believe is the most important asset. Ah, and with that in mind, right?
Um, yes, um.
Ah, I'm curious. Ah, so I think there are more and more people who realise that there is always this premium brand. Ah, if you can establish a great brand, you can charge that brand premium, right? However, it is absolutely difficult.
To actually create a successful brand or create this brand's relevance and actually find strong connections with the target customers or target consumers. Do you have any learnings that you can impart to us in this regard?
What is important is not the size of the data you get from your research, even though you need to be very extensive in covering your target audience.
And making sure that your database Data-base marketing is comprehensive and digs deep into consumer needs. What is important? To recognise it, after you get the data feedback from the market or from the consumers, you need to dig deep into it to draw out the insights. The insights can lead to renovation, which is okay. I will introduce two more new line extensions, all right. I have a Nestlenasily Crispy Sharp. Ah, vanilla, ah, chocolate, strawberry chocolate, green tea chocolate—that is called line extension. So the insight can lead to a decision on line extension, which for me is only renovation, but If you dig deeper into the data and find a human truth, that becomes an honourable brand proposition. You would dig into more insightful and valuable actionable plans, like innovation.
Not only do you have line extensions, You have a totally new product offering to the consumer, like the Nestle Crispy Chocolate Wafer AH product. Which is a very different product from the Nestle kick cap, so that for me is called innovation, and within innovation you can also premanize. No. 1 said you consumers are only willing to pay $1. When you add value to the product and prime it, you are moving vertically up the price pyramid, sometimes 5 times more expensive. 10 times more expensive, and I want to give you an example. For example, in Japan, we can sell a standard kitkatkickcat product and flavour it with green tea, cherry blossom, or a special matchaca. Ah, then we introduce. Um, when there is a purple yam that comes from Okinawa?
And suddenly you realise that the primed product that's up in the pyramid of the price letter becomes something like 20 times or 30 times. The consumer is willing to pay for more value if you can add it. More value and satisfaction to the consumer, and that is an important example. I want to illustrate to you that you have to dig deep into your data. Um, marketing feedback. from the consumer and target group in order to offer a stronger and deeper value to the consumers.
Gotcha That's definitely interestingdefinitely and interesting because, as we all know, FMCGFmc a lot of times when we launched a product. Ah, usually one of the key criteria is value for money. We definitely wanted to aim for something that people are willing to do. People feel like it's affordable at the beginning, but usually a lot of the brands sort of struggle when they want to go up in price. So and what you say is adding, we need to find out what kind of value adding would actually help the consumer. To be willing to pay more for it. Gotcha, um, so I am.
I am also curious, like you mentioned just now. Um, it's not about the size of the data. Ah, but what do we do about the data? Ah, you know how we translate the insights into actionable strategies. So um. When we are doing a survey with our customers. We know this is one of their key challenges. They face a lot of time, and it's also not just about the volatility of data. But how do I turn this data that seems to be available to me into what they call an actionable strategy? a Actually, give them ah roi. Ah, so a lot of your case studies suggested you had a lot of successful ROI from there. So I'm curious what kind of learning you can share with us and how that can help leaders translate those human truths that you call insights into actionable
Strategy or action item. So.
Um, I'll give I give you a specific example. Um, that was something we did in 2003 in Manila, Philippines.
We were doing focus group interviews like we normally do every week. We have groups of target consumers come in to taste our product and give us evaluations through blind taste tests. We were there earlier. We enjoyed coffee with them, talking to them, chatting with them, and we realised that the ladies in Manila were preoccupied talking about a very interesting subject that made them giggle and laugh and compare notes. Touching each other, and we are wondering what they were so delighted about, and we suddenly realise the ladies were comparing the tummies of each other. Oh, you just gave me a buff. Ah, ah, you know, and your tummy still looks so Feet and trim: what did you eat? What exercise do you do? and so on and so on, then we realised that they were so preoccupied with their tummies staying slim and nice even after giving birth and after reaching 50 years old, and then we said, "Wow, that is a human truth," because it's something that they care about that is important to them. Can we translate that human truth? Um.
into an honourable brand proposition, and at Nestle, we always try to look for that sweet spot. The sweet spot where you can build and bring your brand to life So. That honourable brand proposition caused us to redeem our Nestle fitness cereals in the Asia-Pacific region, where we take the packs of Nestle fitness cereals. We designed the box to strip the middle but to show that so that the consumer can see what kind of cereals are inside the box, and we started the one hundred-day challenge that is. You eat this nestlenestly fitness cereal, and you do the following exercise programme: Ah, for the next one hundred days, and then you see how it impacts your trim tummy, and guess what? That became a huge innovative idea in the Asia-Pacific region, where we are able to relate to a consumer, delight the consumer, and make the brand come to life in the consumer's lifestyle.
and day to day, and that is a fantastic way of delighting the target consumers.
I will also like to share that we also need to dig in even when we have to look for a new business model. apart from renovation and innovation. Ah, you can also look at an opportunity as a pivotal opportunity that allows you to change the business model.
And this was what happened in the year twenty-six in Shanghai, where we were having a discussion with Alibaba, and at that time we were fully aware of the Chinese government.
Was wanting to encourage youngsters to go back home during Chinese New Year and spend time with their elderly parents that they left behind in the villages, and because of the 1 child policy, many of them Parents only have one child, and many of them are working in the cities, and they are so preoccupied with their career and their new lifestyle that they do not go back home to spend Chinese New Year, so the government started a campaign called Kui Laa sinan kuala hu laa, and it wasn't a very successful campaign encouraging these young people to go back home. At that time, we wanted to know how many. Um, singles. Are we talking about working in the cities, and to our amazement, there were 300 million singles in China? That means there were 300 million singles in China. Who is away from the hometown and working in the cities, and we say, "Why don't we start a singles day?" or double 11 on the eleventh of November?
Means double eleven, and we encourage the youngsters to go back home for the Chinese New Year. But if they cannot go back, They should send a gift to their parents to show how much they miss them, so we started. We are launching a new business system called e-commerce and double eleven songsae, and guess what? in the twenty-fourth year of our operation. Alibaba had a turnover of nine point 300 million 0000000 sales, nine point three billion us dollars. Not too many companies can boast that they have nine point three billion us dollars in sales, and this was done one day only, double eleven single day. The following year, we improved on that programme, and the turnover was fourteen point three billion us dollars, and in the year twenty-two twenty-one, it was exceeding. Thirty billion dollars just to show you renovation innovation but also pivoting a new business system like e-commerce leveraging your insight into that.
You need to address three hundred million singles who did not go back home, but they need to show their love to their parents by using e-commerce to express themselves and send loved ones a special gift, I hope. That is a useful example for you.
Yes, yes, indeed, and I often hear people say, "Um, you know, two people can be seeing the same exact set of data. But then the takeaway could be different, and they may or may not make the same action, or actually, 1 may egg and 1 may not. Um, what advice would you give to leaders to make sure that they increase the probability of actually translating the insights sort of data that they're getting into a strategy or action that will actually get ROI? Ah. Ah, where do we get our eye from?
I will say that as leaders, it is our responsibility to challenge the process and bring improvement, and one expression I like to use often is you need to cut the tail. And Ati is just like a lion with a very long tail. What is the purpose of having a six-foot tail for a lion when it's not going to use very much of that tail because a lion doesn't work like a dotlike dot? They see the owner. A lion is more useful to chase after animals and pray if they have shot teeth. So the expression is "as a leader. You have to constantly look for opportunities to add teeth, which is your competitive advantage. advantage and cut out what is complex, simplify it, make it more relevant, and make it more appropriate. So cut out what is not necessary, adding wasteful resources, and use a resource to add behind tea versus competition so that your success will be measured based on it.
? The business that yohave,ve how much is igrowing?ng Are you growing in your market share. Are you growing in terms of retention and consumers returning in terms of loyalty? Your brand health, brand strength, brand shares, and leaders need to be measured based on how they have taken an organisation from one point to the next. Like when I was asked to go to China, it was a time when we built the business from the ground up, and guess what it is today? China is the second-largest Nestle market in the whole world after us, and another example I want to give you is 1981, when I started at Nestle Malaysia as my first job. Towards the end, after a couple years, they moved me to Singapore, where I said I did not stay more than eight months. One of the campaigns we did together with the leadership team in Nestle Malaysia
We decided to mobilise the entire organisation behind a battle crime, and the battle cry in Nestle Malaysia at that time in 1985 was "We care, we excel. We care; we excel towards 1000000000 Malaysian ring it sales. Turn over to us 1000000000 Malaysian ring it sales done now. I'm retired, and guess what the sales are done over in Nestle Malaysia to show you that leaders need to continue to grow the business and take it to the next level? Trying to deliver our first one billion Malaysian ringgit during 1985? Do you know that last year Nestle Malaysia delivered five billion Malaysian ringits? 5.5 times the amount I left when I moved on to Singapore and the organisation continued to grow, it shows you leaders after leaders continue to take the organisation.
Cuttail at the teeth and take it to the next level through innovation, renovation, and pivoting, and the organisation is five and a half times bigger than when I left Nestle Malaysia, you know, in 1985. I hope that illustration will open a lot of eyes.
I think it definitely would, so before we end our sessions talking about brands, Ray, you highlighted a few examples there at Nestle of how you focus on building brands that actually give value to the customer and the consumer. Um. I'm curious. This will be asked. Our last question is: are there any big secrets or key guiding principles that you could share with us on doing so?
I would say it comes down to a very simple advice I keep on giving, which is to put the consumer first in everything you do. If you put the consumer first in everything you do and focus on targeting consumers and shoppers, you will continue to delight them. You can't go wrong. You will be very successful when you build brands. That is focusing on purpose and value, and when you build brands that have purpose and value, You will continue to do extremely well, just like When we were in the marketplace, I just wanted to illustrate an example. In Japan, we use a chef called Likekagi's son is a chef who is very good at, um, adding natural flavours to Kickcat, and we started with him on Kickcat.
Allows new flavours like cherry blossom, purple Okchiinawa, and matcha green tea that come from Hokkaido, and then he will make them into limited editions. And then we will sell it through our shop, Kickcat Chocolate Tory, that we started in Japan. But after that, we started in many other cities in Japan. They will ask me because we are from the head office. How do you know when? Ah, that novelty idea has that, and I said a very simple guide for you.
If you continue to delight the consumer, you can judge it based on how long a queue you're getting at the Kickcat Chocolate Story outlet. The queue normally is 40500 people, and when the queue is so long, you know millennials and Gen X and Gen Y when they see a long queue. Everybody is also in the queue, wondering why they are queuing because they want to take pictures and show them to their friends on social media. So. The guidelines we received from the head office in Switzerland were very simple. You keep delighting the consumer with natural flavour when Cherry Blossom season: you introduce cherry blossom when it is pinking okinawa green, and you launch it when it is. Special maca harvest time from Hokkaido: you launch it and continue to delight the consumer, and the queue and line are going to be long, and you multiply it when the queue is short. It's time to pivot and think of another idea. And guess what? The queue is continuing, and we will launch it in Westfield Sydney. If you are in Westfield Sydney, you will also see a Kickcat studio there.
It's called Kickket Studio, where we also use Ah flavours, which are available in Australia, to delight our target consumers, and guess what? We also launched a Kickket Studio in Mid Valley.
And you will find a kitkket studio there where consumers are also invited to go and make their own kitkket flavours. Whatever you make, you pay for it, and you can take it back home and share it with your friends. The kitcat AH product that you have just made The kickcat studio in Mint Valley is showing you how much excitement you can create when you continue to delight consumers.
I like how easy it is to give a signal about when we should renovate. Ah, ah, thank you so much, Anthony. Actually, I want to wrap it up here. It's amazing that you share a lot of case studies. Help us bring home the idea and give us a little bit more perspective on how they grew to where they are today. Ah, now I'm going to start with what? Ah, what do we call a lightning round? A lightning round consists of three questions. I have three questions, and I'm going to ask you one to get your thoughts on them.
Um, are you ready? Ah, ask, so question number 1 What are the key data points or metrics that you monitor when you are building your brand?
Um, sure, ever ready.
The first report on our table as a leader is the daily sales report, which is very important because we look at sales every day. And it covers all the markets we are in, like a hundred and fifteen countries. Ah, how are their sales doing for today, for this week, and for the month we are looking at? Our market share report that we get once every month shows that we are going market share for this brand in this country where we are having difficulty. We look at We continue to grow our marginal contribution, which we call MC, which in Nestle at that time should be more than 45% because we don't want to do business. That is not making enough marginal contribution in Chinese; we always say in China, kui and "sunni waman putso," which means a losing business. If we don't, we will focus on growing it.
Profit margin of the business, and of course we look at consumer trust. Our investors, shareholders, and stakeholders have confidence in the Nestly brand and its growth. So. We have many KPIs that we prioritise, and we track them on a daily, weekly, and Monday basis. to make sure that our brand, our business, and our company Continue to grow your market share versus the competition.
Now let's go to question number 2. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in marketing or becoming a future leader?
Just remember what I said earlier: I started at Nestle Malaysia and, after creating the groundbreaking innovation, I sent an automated high-bay warehouse that brought a significant reduction in distribution costs for the whole company, and then I moved on. I was a regional sales manager in many places in Malaysia, then I was made the head of marketing and sales, and what I learned from my experience and what I like to strongly encourage People who want to build a solid marketing experience, whether as a general marketing person or a specialist in marketing, should make sure they spend a minimum of 2 to 3 years in sales. Have their feet in the street, talk to consumers, talk to shoppers, understand what delights them, and learn from competition, even if they are tiny and small, because you can learn a lot of wisdom.
Even from small companies because they know how to build? Ah, ah, to innovate and have great ideas. So I learned a lot from the competition. That's why we said it in Chinese. You Chinsun Chao Chinpo only when there is competition can you improve yourself because you're always benchmarking against the best in trust and you continue to improve and move on. A sales experience of 2 to 3 years will make you better. Ah, the sense of deep insight in the marketplace You know what is changing in the marketplace. You know what will delight the consumer, and this will sharpen your insights in marketing when you become a specialist in marketing. So I would strongly recommend that to you.
Nice, ah, and my last question here in the lightning round. What is the one marketing book that you would recommend?
I have read many marketing books, but the recent one that I just finished reading and that I will recommend to you all is called "Marketing Your Way to Growth: Ways to Win." By Philip and his brother Newton Kotler, and the publisher is really good, and I recommend this book because it gives you only 8 chapters to read. It's a very small book—only two hundred and twenty pages—and you can finish it in 4 hours, but each of the chapters will give you insights into growing your business, growing brands, and taking it to the next level. So. It's a great book. Highly recommended.
Thank you, Anthony. I don't know if you know that our company does have a book club that meets on a weekly basis. Ah, the book club, ah, book cup pes, who come together on every Tuesday we will. Ah, we discussed a saving book that we looked at. So I will definitely put this book in our book cup. Ah, 8 chapters here, gotcha, or final final questions. Ah, where can people find you if they want to reshot and learn more about what you're up to?
As I am on business trips, I often travel to different countries and different time zones. Um, I will suggest that if you want to connect with me, you do so via my LinkedIn. That would be the easiest place to get me, even with the many hours of time difference.
Amazing. Thank you so much, Anthony, for sharing with us so many insightful experiences. Thank you once again for being here and to all the audience members. Thank you so much for listening if you find this valuable. You can subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts. Spotify or Youtube should also consider giving us a rating or leaving us a review because that really helped other listeners find a podcast. You can find all the episodes or learn more about the show at was dot ai see you in the next exhibit. Thank you.
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