1. What inspired you to pursue a career that embraces marketing?

I studied International Management at university and was very engaged and motivated by the marketing modules.  I then got my first role in a data-driven marketing agency which I guess was the less sexy side to marketing.  Little did I know at that point how valuable a foundation this would become as part of the full marketing mix.

2. What are the biggest challenges currently facing your marketing team?

There are 2 key challenges, internally we are going through a cultural transformation as we bring 2 divisions together: Laundry & Home Care and Beauty Care.  Whilst there isn’t a direct impact on the brands, there is a shift in focus and priorities as well as ways of working as we transition to one Henkel Consumer Brands team.  Secondly, the external macro-economic climate and impact on cost of living means that the team are looking at how our brands and products can support consumers here.  We are reviewing our portfolio, messaging, and marketing channel mix to reflect this.

3. Science vs Art: With scientific data-driven marketing at one end of the spectrum and genius creative ideas at the other - which side do you lean towards?

I definitely lean more strongly to the data driven side. I see the value in understanding which levers and metrics to optimise based on past performance.  However, the sweet spot occurs when encompassing creativity in the mix.  For example, having 3 creatives running digitally simultaneously and utilising data to understand which is the best performing and therefore resonates with the consumer most strongly, means that a campaign can be optimised to the best performing creative as a result of a data-driven approach.

4. The Metaverse: are you ‘in’, ‘out’ or ‘not sure’? And please tell us why.

I’m intrigued at this stage.  There is a role for brands to have presence in the metaverse however it needs to be authentic and purposeful.  For beauty brands, there are lots of benefits that the metaverse can bring such as virtual hairstyles in a salon environment, masterclasses and much more.  However, consumers are still getting to grips with the concept and are at different levels of acceptance of the technology / platforms and it’s early days.  I expect it to explode in the coming years – it’s not just a trend.

5. How do you adapt a business and marketing strategy to embrace the latest trends and keep ahead of the competition?

The consumer is king and therefore ensuring our brand and product portfolio is tailored to suit their needs and requirements is the number one priority.  For example, utilising sales data, social listening, and brand metrics, we can judge what is working and what isn’t working for the consumer.  Where we are looking at strategic fit for either a new launch or communications campaign, market research plays a big role in this.

6. What role does your company’s purpose and environmental strategy play within your marketing strategy? 

Sustainability underpins our product development – whether it is the carbon footprint of the product, the ingredients, or the packaging.  It’s pretty much a hygiene factor in our development process.  Henkel’s purpose is “pioneers at heart for the good of generations” with a vision of winning the 20’s by outperforming the market through innovative and sustainable solutions – environmental strategy sits at the heart of everything we do.  This is further exemplified through the partnerships Henkel has for example with The Plastic Bank.

7. How important is storytelling when maximising your customers’ engagement with a campaign?

Storytelling enables brands to connect on a much deeper level – it can make a brand or product much more relatable.  For example, our recent Colour Catcher digital campaign was centred around mixing colours and/or whites in your washing machine means less loads and therefore less time, money and energy used.  This really resonates with consumers, especially in a time where there is a cost-of-living crisis. 

8. Creative agencies rail against the time and resource spent working on pitches to win accounts: is there a realistic, fair alternative to the pitch process?

This is an interesting question.  The pitch process enables agencies to be assessed against the same criteria in similar conditions and time frames.  It would be difficult to fairly assess creative agencies in another way that gave an equal playing field.  Thinking outside of the box, I would love to see agencies pitch their creative ideas to a brand target market and let the consumer be the judge! 

9. From a marketing perspective, what’s coming up for your brand or business in 2023?

2023 is an exciting year for Henkel Consumer Brands.  We are launching fewer, bigger and better innovations to meet our consumer needs and our communications and media mix will be elevated to the next level.  Watch this space!

Nikki Vadera was interviewed by Tim Healey (Little Grey Cells), on behalf of Worth Your While 

You might die tomorrow so make it worth your while. Worth Your While is an independent creative agency helping brands do spectacular stuff people like to talk about. wyw.agency.

Senior marketers and brand managers have more time, less stress and clearer marketing strategy and tactics by collaborating with best-selling author and outsourced marketing director Tim Healey. www.shoot4themoon.co.uk