Liliana Caimacan – Tata Consumer Products
Liliana Caimacan is the Head of Innovation for Tata Consumer Products and leads the innovations team. Her main responsibility is to develop the Tata Consumer Products International innovations strategy, to define the company’s vision on how to develop and implement innovations able to better answer consumer needs and drive company growth. In addition, Liliana is teaching ‘Marketing, Innovation and Design Thinking’ at Hult International Business School. In the past, she has worked at Unilever for 16 years in various roles, across different categories local, regional or global, living in eight different countries. After globally working in brand development for Dove as global director, Liliana was responsible for defining the strategy for all categories at Unilever across Europe.
Liliana finds that brand awareness and loyalty are very important KPI’s to measure brand strength, while penetration will play an important role in driving brand growth: “Brand advocacy is very important in driving engagement and brand awareness, for the loyalty of existing consumers, but also for acquiring new consumers for the brand” Liliana thinks that driving disruption through innovations will allow Tata to extend and grow the beverage category by bringing new consumers or extending the repertoire. Her main goals are to answer consumer needs in a better way, to develop new and disruptive propositions that are able to change how we consume food and beverages and drive business growth. In line with that, Liliana says: “Brand health, trust and loyalty are fundamental for a brand as they drive consumer preference, especially in the current economic and social context. When the available income is under pressure, as is the case now, people will choose the brands they know and have already delivered the key benefits they expect.”
Re-inventing the brand
In her role, Liliana is also responsible for several brands such as Tetley, one of the biggest tea brands in the UK. Liliana explains that Tetley was created more than 180 years ago, and is therefore very much a part of the British tradition – they have kept their heritage strong. According to Liliana, it is very important to grow the brand through innovation, without overstretching the brand and staying true to the core values, whilst also ensuring the brand links back to the heritage. Liliana: “It’s been a huge challenge for Tetley, trying to re-invent themselves as a brand, having been in the market for 180 years. It was very important to ensure they are seen as vibrant, attractive and have an engaging proposition for consumers, whilst remaining consistent across all touchpoints.”
Tata Consumer Products, one of the biggest food and beverages companies globally, has a strong portfolio of brands across various markets. The company is focused on further growing the respective brands through relevant communication and disruptive innovations, to engage with consumers and stay relevant. In addition to this, Tata Consumer Products has a strong commitment to sustainability and to deliver a high social impact through various activities as a part of the “Tata Trust” foundation, which touches the lives of millions of people globally.
Liliana tells us the key points which their creatives should always be built upon. “The most relevant ideas are embedded into our creative or innovation route. At the heart of everything we do, lies staying relevant and engaging with consumers, and being able to deliver the kind of products and communication assets which are meaningful and help them get the best out of their lives. Overall consistency, creativity and authenticity are key, and any brand should embed these in everything they do. Consumer is ‘king’. Make sure you stay close, listen carefully, understand them, talk to them, create with them and connect with them at any touchpoint.
Role of research
Currently, Tata Consumer Products uses social listening to a great extent, in order to understand the very initial reactions to creatives, ideas or innovations. Liliana explains: “We have moved away from classic research, because we realised that understanding consumers from an early stage of the creative process is key. Nowadays, we share initial ideas with consumers – be it for creatives or products – and validate them early in the process. In particular, we check whether the idea or product is relevant and whether it connects with them, helps them satisfy their needs. Using Design Thinking techniques helps us get brilliant consumer understanding and co-create with them.” Besides having a quantitative validation from a smaller scale to a larger scale, Liliana explains that they also like to have a qualitative validation at every single step in the process – from an initial idea towards co-creating with consumers. Liliana: “If it’s not right, we are back to the drawing board.”
For Liliana, another argument for validating along the way – especially with ‘early adopters’ – is that its good and cost efficient testing that is now available: “The big challenge is combining the use of data with real life conversations with consumers, whilst also still allowing room for change and adaptions. Creative optimisation has changed, because of the continuous check-in and the ‘way of working’ together with the research and creative agencies using Design Thinking Process. Everyone teams up and ‘owns it’.”
According to Liliana, the biggest challenge for the creative industry and for marketing overall is to create relevant, authentic communications and innovations both for brands and consumers. How can we do this is a question most marketeers have these days. Here is Liliana’s view: “For example, within the tea category there are various trends like personalisation, experimentation, health and wellness to name a few. There are also various developments and movements of the key segments in the category, like Black tea is strongly declining, green tea is under pressure with consumers leaving the segment as they do not know how to consume the tea and the herbals and fruits growing fast. Millennials and other younger consumers prefer to experiment with new botanicals, mix flavours and create unforgettable experiences. In this context the 3 biggest brands within the category in the UK – Twinings, PG Tips and Tetley, must ensure that their tea proposition is relevant and are able to engage with consumers in the best way possible. And not just relevant to the traditional British tea drinker, but also engages a younger audience, which isn’t easy “Using the same brand as your grandmother isn’t particularly cool.”
So how do you bring vibrancy and youthfulness for a younger target audience? According to Liliana, in order to make it more relevant and engaging for the younger audience, messages are adapted to communication channels, such as Facebook and Instagram stories, but also the propositions and innovations should answer their expectations and deliver that unique experience they would expect from lifestyle brands. Liliana: “The key is making the communication more relevant by using a wider mix of channels and relevant messages. Consumers expect to see experimentation and products dedicated to them, able to enhance their lives, create a unique lifestyle and deliver high engagement. That is why we try to engage them in various ways, while staying relevant, authentic and coherent.”
Reacting to the current situation
In terms of the current situation and COVID-19, Liliana expects big changes in consumption habits – moving from out-of-home and events to online and in-home experimentation. According to Liliana, social media and E-commerce will generally benefit the most. Liliana: “This will impose another challenge, which will be to make the creatives even more engaging and relevant, as most brands will shift budgets to online.”