Bel begins its Data transformation through marketing

The food industry has decided to increase its marketing staff thanks to data and artificial intelligence. Instructions: algorithms to increase marketing effectiveness.

A French agri-food group, Bel has a rich catalog. The company has a portfolio of product references distributed internationally. Brands such as the Laughing Cow, Babybel, Kiri and Boursin thus contribute to the manufacturer’s 2.7 billion euros in turnover.

But Bel, through its more than 40 subsidiaries, also develops some twenty local brands sold in 120 countries to 400 million consumers. A rich product portfolio is an asset. It is also a source of complexity at the level marketing.

Meeting the Challenge of Marketing Spend Allocation

The complexity in this sector is further increased by the multiplicity of communication channels: social networks, television, emailing, etc. The challenge for a group such as Bel consists in allocating its marketing budgets between its markets, its products and its various channels.

The French company tackled the improvement of its marketing effectiveness within the framework of its program of data transformation. The choice of marketing for this start-up is justified by the profusion of data. For the success of this program, Bel cites three ingredients.

The first component is the data, internal, but especially external. An essential “combo”, declares Béatrice Grenade. Bel’s Chief Data and Marketing Transformation Officer took part in Hubday Data & AI in May to present the industry’s progress in this area.

To extract value from data, Bel adds two other ingredients: algorithms and an approach based on co-creation with the development of pilots with the businesses – followed by multiple iterations.

“Down with webinars, down with e-learning, these top-down tricks don’t work,” judge Béatrice Grenade. “On the other hand, understanding the real problem, getting the teams to experiment so that they take ownership and know how to do it, that’s the whole point of the programs that we are developing at Bel,” she adds.

Advanced analytics “tremendous growth booster”

alliance-talk-ia-industry-vmwareFor its marketing teams, the transformation department has therefore introduced “advanced analytics”, qualified as “tremendous growth booster”, but above all “accelerating the change.”

“Data truly changes the way we operate,” insists Béatrice Grenade. Bel therefore uses the data to determine the allocation of its marketing budgets. This allocation is carried out in several stages.

First, and thanks to an AI algorithm developed internally (with a partner) and 60 data sources (including open data), the group establishes a score for each country. Marketing spend is allocated based on this score. And since its introduction, Bel has significantly revised the distribution of its financial envelope.

However, affiliate marketing teams must also allocate budgets between products and channels or touchpoints. For this, the manufacturer relies on an algorithm, but also scenarios, around 200. These aim to take into account the sensitivity of different brands to marketing investments.

These tools are also used during new product launches to determine the minimum investment threshold – and the ceilings for the various references, both international and local. The use of Data has also resulted in changes.

“In Portugal, for example, we found that we were overinvesting in local brands, while underinvesting in international brands. We have therefore reviewed quite significantly the way in which budgets are allocated thanks to this algorithm plus scenario combo”, testifies Béatrice Grenade.

Data products empower businesses

The transformation of marketing practices, based on data, “has made it possible to gain in efficiency, to regain market share and to improve profitability.” The benefits are not only financial, however, notes the marketing professional.

“The most important thing is the power” acquired by the teams thanks to the data. And this power is exercised in particular in the relationships they maintain with agencies – still often the sole arbiters of the effectiveness of marketing actions.

Bel now also intends to bring “power” to other of its businesses. Thus, the next step will be for the company to apply the principles implemented for marketing to the promotions budget. And the management of promotions represents an even larger budget.

The data and marketing director also aims to support R&D, sales and industry. In these activities too, “data is a real factor of change, generating growth and transforming teams”, she concludes.

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Bel begins its Data transformation through marketing

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