Interview: Peilin Lee, Head of Marketing – Nestlé Nespresso

Interview - Peilin Lee from Nespresso

In partnership with eTail Asia 2022, E-Commerce Nation had the pleasure to interview Peilin Lee, Head Of Marketing at Nestlé Nespresso. Together we discussed marketing strategies, sustainability, customer experience and future plans.

Nespresso is a coffee brand selling coffee machines and pre-designed capsules, distributed in dedicated online and offline stores. The brand is particularly known for its premium image and the personable experience it provides.

Can you introduce yourself and your background?

I’m the Head of Marketing of Nespresso Singapore. I oversee through-the-line communications, customer insights and channel experiences. My focus is building memorable consumer experiences in stores and online, via content creation, 360° media and customer relationship management.

I’ve had a lot of fun (and budgets!) working on some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Nespresso, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Tiger Beer and DBS. On weekends, you can find me experimenting with different coffee combinations and filming them into Reels!

Can you introduce Nespresso and its activity?

Nespresso’s goal is simple: to enable every person, like you and I, to create an amazing cup of coffee, just like a skilled barista. We do this by creating coffee with expert craftsmanship, constantly innovating our flavours and machines, and making sure that our entire value chain is sustainable.

Nespresso is the inventor of the Precision Coffee category. Being precise means there is low to no waste. Our coffee systems use a precise amount of coffee, hot water and energy for you to get that amazing cup of coffee.

Nespresso is an iconic brand, especially in Europe. Do you appeal to consumers in the same way in the Asian market? What are the differences?

The love for top-quality coffee is universal. How coffee is enjoyed different in each country. Europeans typically enjoy a small and mighty shot of espresso. In Singapore, people prefer bigger cups of coffee, from local kopi-o and café-styled coffees, like lattes and flat whites.

Based on local research, we also know that people in Singapore seek innovation, without the complexity and jargon. They also want information to be bite-sized and entertaining.

Based on these insights, we launched Nespresso Vertuo – a smart-technology system which brews small to large cups of coffee. A single coffee capsule can even brew a pot worth of coffee!

We worked with local social influencers to showcase how the coffee system fit in their homes and lives, whether hosting intimate gatherings at home or wanting your daily drink to be more sustainable. Our short videos focused on the result of the innovative system – a large aromatic cup of coffee at a touch of a button.

nespresso vertuo next hanli hoefer
Influence campaign with media personality Hanli Hpefer

Do you have any advice for our readers on what you think are the most effective marketing strategies in your market?

Do your research.

We test our products before they are launched to market, monitor our communications performance during the campaign, and do rigorous post-campaign analysis.

We then apply the learnings to our next campaign, so each one builds on the other.

We did extensive testing on Singapore’s openness to the new Vertuo system. We tested different key messages, benefits and visual cues to see what resonated best with local coffee lovers’ needs. Based on the positive indicators from focus groups and quantitative surveys, we took the leap to bring in a totally new system and coffees.

A year in, we now have people coming to our boutiques, specifically asking about Vertuo and wanting to see the coffee extracted in real life.

Research gives reassurance. Done right, research gives results.

In its physical outlets, the brand plays on the codes of luxury to offer mass prestige. How do you compensate for the lack of use of the senses to provide a qualitative consumer experience on your website?

We launched the Nespresso Online Academy on our website last year to help people learn more about coffee through their screens. Hosted by our Nespresso coffee bards, we share simple coffee rituals, exotic coffee processing and how to make creative coffees at home. 

We are also testing live online sessions which customers can book, so they can make coffee alongside an expert. We send a tasting kit, along with tasting notes and recipe cards to help customers visualise their taste buds. These sessions are in small cosy groups, to stimulate conversations.

This has been fully booked since we launched, and we’re reviewing how we can do more!

You have this hub that you call ‘The Positive Cup’, can you tell us more about it?

‘The Positive Cup’ is our long-term sustainability strategy, which embodies the belief that every cup of coffee can have a positive impact.

Globally, we look at sustainability as a whole life cycle journey – from how its grown at the coffee farms. to how we reuse and recycle the packaging at the end, to see how we can optimize resources and reduce our carbon emissions.

Closer to home, we have our own recycling program, called One Pod At a Time, which shows how every single used Nespresso coffee capsule that is recycled holds a world of possibilities. When you return and recycle your Nespresso coffee, it means its last use doesn’t end with your morning cup at home. Your used coffee can have a second life as something else, like becoming nutrient-rich compost to grow organic vegetables, right here in Singapore.

Nespresso's One Pod at a Time

What can you tell us about consumers’ needs for eco-responsibility and brand transparency?

Recent global situations have given opportunities for us to reflect on our connectiveness to the larger world. The choices we make, from what we choose to keep or throw, the regard and respect we have for people who construct and produce the things we eat and enjoy. More people are aware that their buying choices have impact.

At Nespresso we are focussed to make coffee a force for good, which is why we have committed that by 2022, every cup of Nespresso coffee will be certified fully carbon neutral. This is an ambitious target that we’ve accelerated and are well on-track to achieving.

How do you take care of the logistic processes for all your coffees, whether B2C or B2B, in order to respect this need for ecological responsibility?

Real commitment to a sustainable future requires real change to operations and logistics. 

At our coffee production sites, we’ve built a low-carbon value chain, using renewable energy and logistics optimisation. We continually research and invest back in regenerative coffee production and agroforestry.

In addition, we continue to promote sustainable coffee farming practices through our AAA Sustainable Quality Program. This programme is developed with Rainforest Alliance and FairTrade. 

We train and support farmers with tools, equipment and infrastructure that help them produce higher quality coffee, using methods that are good for the environment. This helps with long term stability and security for the farmer, the farming community and the land.

What will you be sharing at eTail Asia 2022?

I will be speaking about how to reposition your business to be sustainable, which entails relooking and altering current mindsets and processes. I will share the challenges that face a retail brand and why its critical that we think of sustainable products as imperative, and not just a marketing gimmick.

A common question I get is “how do you think companies can start to prioritise sustainability?”

In a nutshell, companies have to find the intersection of business strategy, operational feasibility and relevancy to consumers. Find ONE thing to change first in your operations and product creation and do it consistently. Then find the next thing to change, and do it consistently.

Prioritise the action, before the amplification.

What are the key topics you are keen to listen to and why is eTail a must not miss event?

I am keen to learn how we can synergise the retail experience for consumers, be it through augmented reality, hybrid stores or subscriptions. I‘m also looking to presenting to smiling faces, instead of static profile thumbnails!

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Thibault Herpin
Hi, my name is Thibault Herpin. I'm in charge of strategic content for E-commerce Nation. I'm happy to share my experience in the fields of digital marketing and E-commerce through my content. Do not hesitate to contact me !