Dive Brief:

  • Mondelez International announced a new global marketing strategy it describes as “humaning,” a consumer-centric approach that moves beyond “cautious” data-driven tactics to create purposeful connections with people.
  • The consumer goods giant says humaning will steer how it listens, empathizes and adapts to consumer needs around its snack marketing approach. It will also be applied internally, as the company will join the Unstereotype Alliance and Free The Work initiative beginning in 2021.
  • Humaning unites the company’s marketing approach with its diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, both of which have been central to the company’s purpose-driven and inclusive campaigns in recent years.

Dive Insight:

With its humaning push, Mondelez is demonstrating its commitment to people both internally and externally. As applied to its marketing, the consumer-centric approach sees the pendulum swing back from the data-driven tactics that have defined marketing for the past few years. Despite the message, however, it’s unlikely that a CPG giant like Mondelez — one that has put a premium on first-party data — will not use such data to inform how it listens to consumers and adapts to their needs, which are increasingly volatile amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“People are craving connection and a human experience from brands — particularly in what has proven to be an incredibly unusual year. We want to make brands, campaigns, initiatives, and a culture of humaning that truly connects with consumers as people and genuinely has an impact on the world around us,” Martin Renaud, the company’s global chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

The push centers purpose-driven marketing as Mondelez’s priority moving forward. In announcing the initiative, the company pointed to Oreo’s #ProudParent platform, which saw the brand team with an LGBTQ nonprofit to release rainbow-colored cookies, and Cadbury Dairy Milk’s “Donate Your Words” campaign, which encouraged consumers to reach out to the elderly in the U.K. Similarly, Mondelez brand Ritz this week launched a holiday campaign that keys into inclusion and belonging, with a diverse cast and a message about chosen family. Purpose-driven marketing has been key to engaging with younger consumers, especially Gen Zers whose spending power will only grow with time.

Mondelez’s focus on purpose will be reinforced by its internal D&I efforts. Next year, it will join the Unilever-led Unstereotype Alliance, which works to remove harmful stereotypes in media and advertising, and Free The Work, which helps connect marketers with underrepresented creators (and was previously known as Free the Bid). In addition, Mondelez last month appointed Robert Perkins as its first global diversity and inclusion officer and joined the Board Diversity Action Alliance. These types of efforts have been popularized with marketing leaders like Unilever and P&G as ways to insulate brands from claims of woke washing.

However, Mondelez’s creation of the term “humaning” has received some pushback, as critics claim it is an empty buzzword seemingly created by a robot, suggesting that Mondelez will have to demonstrate the value of this idea through real actions, both in its marketing and internal D&I efforts.

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