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

You could say that my route into marketing wasn’t a traditional one. I studied Food Science at university and after graduating I started my career in NPD. 

I loved it but quickly found myself more interested in the why – I really wanted to understand why consumers would want a new product, why they would choose one product over another, and then what brands could do to make their products stand out and be chosen.

I then got the chance to move into the marketing team, and now with almost 20 years in marketing roles, I know this is always where my heart was. I love understanding consumer needs and how we, as marketers deliver solutions that meet them through our brands.

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

Like most sectors, FMCG has faced a lot of challenges in recent years. Our focus at the moment is on the inflationary pressures that are leading to changes in shopper behaviour, as many try to tighten their belts and cut back on spending. It’s really important that through our activities we stay relevant to consumers through these difficult times and that’s what we are striving to do.

Quorn is bucking the trend, we are outperforming the meat free category and continuing to bring new shoppers into the market. I’m really proud to say that’s down to the dedication of all teams within Quorn, including marketing.

Our always on marketing strategy and innovation pipeline means that shoppers know our products are synonymous with quality, taste, sustainability, and value for money – allowing them to make easier purchase decisions. 

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?

In my experience the best strategies, plans and executions will always be based on a mix of both. Data gives us knowledge and expertise but as marketers we are best placed to know consumers, real people, with needs and motivations better than anyone.

We’re incredibly lucky at Quorn to have great Insight and Category teams. We also invest heavily in taste and sensory technology to ensure that whatever product we’re developing, or campaign we’re creating, will resonate with our shoppers. However, the best ideas will always come from a spark of brilliant creativity triggered by a simple human truth.

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

I’m really interested to see how this develops. We’re a consumer focussed business so it’s important that we continue to watch and understand the role that the metaverse could play in consumers’ lives. I believe that the metaverse has the potential to be a force for good, and from a brand perspective could help drive connection through storytelling. However, real interactions, connections and experiences are crucial to how we form relationships and develop and grow as humans. That is also true for brands.

5. How is your approach to marketing affected by times of economic turbulence and increased cost of living?

It is important to continue to invest in long term brand growth as well as to respond to the changing needs of the consumer in the shorter term.

Health and sustainability continue to be key purchase drivers in the meat free category, but we are, of course, seeing value for money become an even more important consideration.

Quorn is the beacon brand in the category, and we want to help shoppers to navigate these turbulent economic times as best we can.

We’ve increased our focus on our ‘Big Bag Great Value’ frozen range, as we know from previous recessionary times that shoppers turn to frozen foods when seeking value for money, as it fulfils many shopper needs; value for money, reduced waste, and convenience.

We are also offering value conscious recipe content across our website and social platforms to enable our consumers to provide great tasting affordable meals for their families without having to compromise on health or sustainability.

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

Our Insight and Category teams play a pivotal role in ensuring that everything we do is geared towards driving the category forward through strong consumer and shopper insight. Whether it’s delicious innovation or bold and reactive campaigns, we engage with consumers and shoppers like no other brand.

Meat free shoppers are still looking for food to capture their imagination, particularly when they’re starting on their journey to reduce meat consumption. Taste, texture and health are really important to them so that they don’t feel like they’re compromising, which is why we invest so heavily in technology and research, making sure we have the best products on the market.

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

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Quorn. 

We’ve been a trailblazer in the meat free category since we sold our first product in 1985. Today, as the UK’s No. 1 meat free brand, we see it as our responsibility to provide healthy food for people and planet.

We’re on our journey to become a Net Positive company by 2030 and our purpose of ‘’Healthy Food for People and the Planet” underpins every brand campaign, brand partnership and product launch. 

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

With so many ways to reach consumers, it’s crucial that your message lands. A great story delivered in an emotionally engaging way will make that happen. Our recent ad campaigns focus on tongue-in-cheek, relatable but thought-provoking storytelling that challenges perceptions.

One of the biggest barriers to trying meat free products can be taste perceptions. We hit that head on last year with the launch of our ‘So Tasty, Why Choose The Alternative?’ creative platform.

The first campaign supporting our new Deli range was hugely successful. We wanted it to be memorable and make people laugh - what better way to do this than with a cast of puppet mascots - a pig, a cow, and a chicken!

Directed by comedy director Jim Archer, the advert lulls viewers into a world of food porn, with a delicious looking sandwich build, before being interrupted by our trio of animal puppets who point out that there’s no point in wondering what the alternative to Quorn Deli might be.

We followed that up in January this year with our ‘So Tasty’ campaign that highlights Quorn chicken products.

We know our range of chicken style products match up to chicken on taste and texture – we invest heavily in sensory, scientific and consumer research to ensure it. What better way to prove it than testing it at the infamous end of the night takeaway, where partygoers typically swarm for a box of nuggets or a tasty chicken burger. This is the scene our ad depicted.

However, our ad surprised viewers at the end by revealing that no chicken was eaten at all by the revellers, proving that Quorn is so tasty you don’t need to choose the alternative.

We always activate all of our campaigns across a variety of channels to allow us to tailor and deliver our brand stories in a relevant way to consumers. 

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

We started the year on a high launching our So Tasty chicken campaign and innovation across chilled and frozen meat free sectors, and we have plenty more to come in 2023. With our powerful partnerships, impactful campaigns and structured NPD pipeline, we’re confident we will continue to get Quorn on more plates more this year which will be great news for our health and the health of the planet!

Little Grey Cells is Tim Healey’s weekly profile interview platform where leading marketers share their valuable insights and experience, presented by Worth Your While.

Outsourced Marketing Director and best-selling author Tim Healey collaborates with senior marketers to help them have more time, less stress and clearer marketing strategies through his consultancy Shoot 4 The Moon Ltd. Book your meeting.

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.