María Fernanda Loyo has more than 20 years of career in marketing. She started in 2001 as an intern at Colgate Palmolive, where she rose to junior brand manager. Then she was invited to work at Philip Morris Mexico and her curiosity to develop in a completely different line of business made her accept the offer.
“When I joined Philip Morris in 2006, the tobacco category was still able to advertise and Marlboro had investment in ATL ( above the line ) and out of home . In addition, we could make a lot of one- to-one contact with the consumer, especially in the consumption centers where adult smokers were”, he details.
Loyo came from a company where open television was the panacea, and although the cigar industry could still advertise, certain advertising limitations were already emerging, which was not an easy task for the marketer in 2012.
Expansión (E): What challenge did being the brand manager of Marlboro represent for you, considering that it is a product classified as harmful to health?
María Fernanda Loyo (MFL): It was a radical change in my career, especially towards strategic definition and not so much in execution. At Colgate I had a very solid financial base, of brand creation, of putting the consumer at the center, but of massification.
At Philip Morris, the consumer was also at the center, although under a very great ethics of responsibility, where we did not encourage more people to smoke. The company’s goal was to communicate that it didn’t want the consumer to smoke, but if they did, then they should smoke their brands.
There was a lot of branding, especially to add value to Marlboro ‘s equity, and a lot of relationship with the consumer to tell them about the differences in the portfolio. Today I can say that Philip Morris is a great company that gave me a much more strategic base and a deep understanding of the challenges to be able to be closer to the consumer.
E: How to successfully promote a product of this nature?
MFL: At that point in my career, I was very aligned with the company’s purpose and strategy, which was: “If you don’t smoke, I don’t want you to smoke.” And the company had that ethical responsibility to contact only smokers. The challenge was more related to how to stand out from the communication messages and to make the smoker stick to your marks.
In this category you don’t talk about benefits, but about product attributes, for example the type of blend, of tobacco, the experience it gives you. A red Marlboro is not the same as a mentholated one and always communicating that the product is harmful to health.
E: Why did you leave Philip Morris and how did you get to Concha y Toro?
MFL: I was curious to find other moments in my career. And the reality is that when I left Philip Morris there was no longer any out of home , the legislation was already more complicated. They looked for me from Concha y Toro and it seemed like a good change. When I joined eight years ago, the company was being founded in Mexico.
The marketing team was very small. I arrived at a new company, without processes and with the guidance of Concha y Toro globally. And I got into a category where I thought I knew and then found out I didn’t know anything; It is a complex category for the consumer, for those of us who know and for those who don’t.
E: In this new category that also has its limitations, what challenges did you face?
MFL: I began to understand what the drivers were in the consumption of wine and I realized that in Mexico no one consumed wine on a regular basis, but at parties like Christmas. My goal was to grow sales, market share and category in conjunction with competitors.
One of the most important assets that the company has and that is very important to me is that it owns two of the most prominent brands in brand awareness in Mexico: Casillero del Diablo with 93% and Concha y Toro Reservado with 90%. This helps a lot to continue building sales growth.
Another challenge is in education. It is intimidating to enter a supermarket and choose a wine, due to ignorance. What we seek is to give confidence to the consumer, who through a variety of brands can explore and learn. That is one of the strategies we do at the marketing level.
I: What are the keys to positioning a particular wine brand?
MFL: The category invites you to get to know and has the possibility of having different communication territories and ways of speaking to the consumer. We have around 19 brands in the portfolio and each one has a very specific territory and value proposition, as well as a target.
In the case of Casillero del Diablo, it is a brand that has a long history and was born from a legend: Don Melchor’s wines began to be stolen from his cellar and he spread the news that the devil lived in his cellar, so people stopped steal his wines. That is the communication strategy of that brand, spreading the legend through different channels.
In the case of Reserved, which is the brand that sells the most in volume, it facilitates the choice by the consumer, since it communicates pairing recommendations, based on certain dishes or foods such as pizza.
E: Currently, how much market share do you have in the country?
MFL: We have about a 14% share, the two mentioned brands are leaders within their competitive set. Casillero del Diablo has around 18% market share and Reservado 22%. These two brands are ranked in the Top Ten Brands of the category, with the highest purchase consideration rate.
E: From your area, what tools do you use to identify consumer insights?
MFL: We do both qualitative and quantitative market research and a lot of observation, we have global trend panels, Mexico is not necessarily a forerunner of trends worldwide, but it is an adopter. In such a way that by looking at global trends we can see what is going to happen in the Mexican market in the near future.
We also listen a lot to the consumer, eight years ago the largest proportion of those who decided to buy wine were men, now women feel more confident in choosing the wine brand. From marketing, if I see that women are interested in a particular brand, then I take tastings of that brand to women’s events.
E: How are you educating the consumer?
MFL: We strongly promote education through in-person and online tastings, on product labels, with POP at points of sale, with QR codes, out of home and pay television. We train the sales team and we have a landing page so that people know what a barrel is, when a wine has a barrel or not, etc.
In Mexico, per capita consumption is 800 milliliters, when there are countries that are 54 liters per person. However, consumption has been growing over time and more people are starting to consume wine at home and not just in consumption centers.
E: Why did you decide to enter the beer category with the Chilean craft beer Kross?
MFL: As Mexico is one of the highest consumer countries in beer and assiduous producer of this beverage avenue, we decided to take on the challenge of developing a craft brand in the country. We do not intend to compete with the big breweries right now, but we believe that with the power we have of distribution and brand creation we can be a proud competitor in about three years, but in this type of craft beer. Our focus is first that the consumer knows it and then think about the storytelling. It is now available at Chedraui, La Comer, Sam’s Club and Walmart.
E: How much is the company currently investing?
MFL: We are investing around 5% of net sales to the total company at the marketing level. Specifically, this beer has a higher rate because we are aiming to put it on the market.
E: As a marketer, what does it represent for you to promote product categories, whose excess consumption generates damage to the health of the consumer?
MFL: For me it has never represented any discomfort, on the contrary, it has been a source of pride because my personal ethics have always been married to the ethics of the companies in which I have worked. I love Concha y Toro and its values because it is a company that strongly promotes respect, sustainability, and responsible consumption.
But promoting responsible consumption starts from the example, when we are in front of a consumer in a tasting we put a spittoon and we also teach how to taste a wine and there is always food. We communicate that it is a more hedonistic category than a party category and we carry out responsible consumption campaigns, where people know how much they should drink, how and where.