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BelVita exec: Mobile is critical to new way of engaging with brands

The folks behind belVita breakfast biscuits are hoping to shake off the perception that consumer packaged goods brands are not technology innovators via a new partnership with mobile startup inMarket.

Consumer packaged goods brands are often accused of not doing enough to take advantage of mobile marketing. However, BelVita - from Kraft snack foods spin-off Mondelez Int?l - is moving aggressively to put itself at the forefront of the opportunity to leverage mobile marketing and social media to engage consumers.

?In terms of how we approach consumers and market to them, we want to be in the forefront of the opportunities in digital marketing and reaching consumers in the ever changing mobile and social environment,? said Gary Osifchin, senior marketing director at belVita.

?The old strategies still have their place but to engage consumers today, mobile and social are critical,? he said.

The partnership with inMarket, which was previously known as CheckPoints, is one of several recently announced by Mondelez Brands as part of its Mobile Futures initiative that also has Trident partnering with Lisnr and Roximity as well as Stride with Waze. Mondelez has also said it will funnel 10 percent of its marketing budget into mobile this year.

Here, Mr. Osifchin talks about BelVita?s plans to have an innovative mobile program launched within 90 days leveraging CheckPoints? offerings, which includes a mobile app that incentivizes shoppers for picking up a product from a store shelf and scanning the UPC code.

Why is it necessary for a breakfast foods brand such as belVita to have a strong mobile strategy?
The Mobile Futures program is linking up snack foods brands with many startup companies ? it really is a big strategy for us.

We need to be as savvy if not savvier that anybody else out there. We are a snack foods company ? which is a fast moving space ? and it is critical for us to be in contact with consumers in the channels that they are engaging.

BelVita launched a year ago in the United States but has been in other markets for 10 years. It is trying to reach the really active, on-the-go younger Millennial consumer with a breakfast item that meets their needs. They are the early adopters of technology who are using mobile apps and talking to their friends when they are on the go.

How will belVita and inMarket be working together?
We are a brand new brand with unique benefits for a consumer who is very busy and yet very engaged with digital and social. That means there is a great opportunity for us to figure out how inMarket is working with consumers and to pair that with what we know about who our consumer is.

We will be looking at how we can find ways to best engage with consumers, to get them to know about belVita and why people who know about it love it so much.

The process we are embarking on is to really connect with inMarket and understand how they approach opportunities and problems from a technology standpoint to develop the right tools for consumers that they are going to want.

Their approach is shopping apps. We will be looking at how do find something that is an intersection of both companies that will uncover opportunities for both of us.

This is very integrated. We are really working together in an extremely collaborative way to bring back into our way of thinking some of the tools that they use. From that, we hope to gain some new thinking about how we do marketing.

How can mobile enhance shopping for everyday items such as a breakfast food?
While belVita is a name that most U.S. consumers haven?t heard about yet, we know that once they taste it, they love it and make it part of their routine. We will be looking at figuring out how do we really amp up our communication with consumers when they are at the critical moment of making decisions.

What ways, from a marketer?s standpoint, can we figure out to talk to consumers with how they are shopping and using mobile.

The limitation of in-store marketing has been having one communication point that is going out to many consumers, such as shelf-talkers or coupons at the gas pump.

From a mobile standpoint, what it offers is knowledge about where the consumer is, what the time of day is, what the consumer?s behavior has been and what they have been searching for.

The opportunity is to have more of a one-to-one communication at a relevant time of day, which for us is breakfast ? and relevant to where they are shopping.

Convenience is a big driver for us so we are looking at convenience stores.

Relevancy, right method, right time of day, right place ? that is the challenge to figure out and also the opportunity.

What role will mobile play in belVita?s overall marketing strategy?
We are going to figure out something that will stand out. We hope to find multiple things that we can test and learn from that can scale and drive the brand further than if we did the off-the-shelf approach.

The impact I am expecting is about engagement and the role of one person telling another a product that they love. Mobile brings the opportunity for shareability.

We have to help them find us and connect and engage with us in mobile. Then, once belVita gets into their mouths and they get excited about it, how can we help them share it with their friends.

Consumers are engaging with brands differently. They want to talk about brands that they have discovered.

It is all about finding people and getting them to tell more people about it. That requires a different approach than just a TV ad.

We are really going to uncover what those opportunities are.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York