Pia Villa joined graze as Global Brand Director in May 2017, a role in which she oversees the overall brand strategy, positioning and innovation.
With a background in marketing, innovation, and brand relaunching both at a domestic and international level, Pia’s focus at graze is positioning the company as the “go-to” brand for healthy, nutritionally balanced snacks in the UK and the US. To do this, Pia focuses on ensuring relevance and consistency across all brand communications as well as building the brand’s portfolio and innovation pipeline, taking advantage of the consumer insight that graze’s multichannel positioning offers.
Pia started her career on Unilever’s graduate programme, rising through the ranks during her time with the business to become Head of Marketing in Austria in 2011. From Unilever, Pia moved to innocent drinks where she worked on building the brand as Head of Marketing in Northern Europe as well as Global Marketing Team Leader, before leaving the company to join graze.
We spoke to Pia about:
– Brand communication and values
– Ensuring consistency across digital marketing channels
– How to engage with your target consumer (both online and offline on packaging)
– Upcoming trends in the healthy food and drink market and how to stay relevant
1. What values do consumers want from a Health Food company?
There are three values that really stand out for us – innovation, collaboration and brand purpose.
It is important that you are passionate about disrupting the market by creating better products, faster. For example, we are pioneering the healthy snack industry with our technology-based approach in addition to retail sales.
In addition to innovation, having a direct relationship with your consumers is vital. We sell directly to our subscribers, not just through retail stores, which means that our subscribers are able to be the first to provide feedback on the latest products. This helps us to create our innovative products that we can launch much faster and it is also more cost-effective than traditional research would be.
Lastly, brand purpose is crucial. Your marketing should always somehow come back to your mission statement. For example, ‘making good exciting’ is our brand aim and all of our marketing stems from this idea. Similar visuals and similar messages should be communicated, just with varying levels of depth depending on the channel. Our in-house marketing team-work across all touch points and they ensure this consistency, but this will definitely become one of our challenges going forward as the brand continues to grow.
2. Why are convenience and nutrition becoming more important to consumers?
Convenience and nutrition go hand in hand. It is important to make it easy for consumers to make healthy choices by offering delicious healthy products which are convenient to purchase. To do this at graze, we use high-quality ingredients without artificial additives and preservatives, and we ensure that sugar, salt and calorie levels are carefully controlled.
Everything you put into your products should have a purpose. Whether it’s for protein, vitamins or minerals, the ingredients should be chosen specifically with nutrition in mind, as well as taste. Brands should avoid empty calories.
Different purchase formats also help provide convenience to every consumer. We offer graze box subscriptions via the website, as well as one-off purchases through the online shop. In stores we offer the pre-portioned snacks, as well as the larger take-home products.
3. How can Health Food brands refine their target consumer?
There should always be a broad target audience of different demographics if your mission is to help a large number of people change their everyday habits to healthy habits. There should be a focus on both taste and health. We explain the health benefits on all of our packaging so that the products appeal to everyone. We are relevant to millennials as they identify with the brand values and personality, but we also resonate with professionals and parents due to the convenience aspect.
It is important to think about the specific group you are trying to reach and focus on capturing that audience by targeting them with the relevant campaign message for their demographic.
4. How can brands maintain a direct link between their marketing and the target consumer?
Consumers are becoming more and more interested in finding out about product benefits and why it is good for you. Therefore, campaigns should clearly communicate what each product offers to the consumer and how. Successful marketing involves creating high quality content which can then be shared in different ways. For example, short uplifting messages on one channel as well as longer blogs on another channel, to share more of the in-depth knowledge to the consumer.
5. What consumer trends do you predict?
Superfoods and plant-based protein are definitely on the increase.
Innovation and speed to market are key in order for brands to disrupt the market or stay in front of consumers. We launch 30-40 new products every year and have a direct relationship with consumers. It is important for companies to react very quickly if something doesn’t work with their product and find a solution straight away. We can gain feedback overnight and finalise new products that we know grazers will like really quickly, rather than taking half a year to launch something new that is then no longer on-trend.