Bel Group is the French multinational owner of a range of iconic global cheese brands including Babybel, The Laughing Cow, Kiri, Leerdammer and Boursin. We caught up with Bel Spain’s Marketing Director Miguel Chapa Monteagudo to find out how the business has experienced rapid growth in Spain over the last few years despite challenging market conditions.
Bel Spain began a journey of transformation a few years ago. Why was this journey necessary?
Undoubtedly, the difficult economic conditions in Spain over the last few years have severely impacted the growth of branded goods makers such as Bel. This was particularly apparent within the context of the cheese industry, where Bel primarily operates. The cheese category in recent times has become more and more commoditised and has been in desperate need of a ‘step change’ to better address new trends and challenges. So, to combat prevailing economic conditions and remain competitive in a rapidly changing market, Bel needed to transform its approach and leverage the expertise of different departments across the business, working collectively to address various factors. These included how to better understand its consumers, improving its customer engagement both on and offline, and working towards building better relationships with external partners. At the same time it needed to invest in its own people, as it was clear that they would be the key to the business achieving the objectives of its transformation.
During the last three years and despite enduring difficult market conditions, Bel has been one of the fastest growing FMCG companies in Spain. What has been the key to Bel’s success?
That’s right, while FMCG in Spain grew by 2.6% during the last three years, the organic growth of Bel was 12.7% according to Nielsen. The strategy which has ultimately helped Bel grow ahead of the market is fourfold. Firstly, Bel has redefined the marketing strategies for its core brands and leveraged consumer and shopper insight to better align its brands with trends impacting consumer behaviour. Secondly Bel has invested in improving on and offline communications, providing consumers with a better all-round ‘experience’ of its unique brands across multiple channels. Thirdly, Bel has gained a greater understating of point of sale (POS) and developed activation strategies to improve product visibility in-stores. Finally, in line with Bel’s core values of ‘dare’, ‘commitment’ and ‘taking care of people’, the business is being inspired to transform its operational processes to better meet the needs of its employees as well as its external partners.