How Nestlé Is Using Shopify Plus to Target Millennials by Making Adulthood Suck Less

How Nestlé Is Using Shopify Plus to Target Millennials by Making Adulthood Suck Less

To celebrate its 150th birthday…

Nestlé, the largest food and beverage company in the world, set out to convince millennials they should love its Nescafé Sweet & Creamy instant coffee brand.

“We knew we were going to have to speak differently to millennials,” Arlee Rosenberg, Digital Consumer Experience and eCommerce Manager at Nestlé says of Nescafé.

But doing so would require the company to speak and sell differently than it has historically.

“It’s almost like we were opening up a brand new shop within Nestlé,” Rosenberg describes.

Oh, and by the way…

Rosenberg was tasked with doing it all in just a matter of weeks.

The Nerve to Touch

Adulthood can suck.

At least that’s what Rosenberg and her team heard when they began listening to the conversations millennials were having online.
“It’s a shock when millennials first learn how difficult it can be to adult properly,” Rosenberg says.

In case you missed it, “adult” and “adulting” are now verbs; an action or transformation millennials are eventually forced to undergo that results in unpleasantries like taking on new responsibilities for the first time.

“Millennials are certainly not a homogenous group,” Rosenberg says. “But moving away from home for the first time, taking on new responsibilities, and having to pay your own bills are things that really surprise millennials when they first step out on their own.”

So let’s get this straight.

Nestlé wants to somehow convince millennials that making the transition into adulthood will be a bit easier with a quick and delicious cup of coffee?

It sure does. “Adulthood is hard but we think we can help Nestlé make it easier on millennials,” says Jeff Miller at One Method, Nestlé’s agency partner. “We want to let millennials know we get it, that life can be complicated, but that we have a product that’s easy and helpful to them in their transition.”

It would be one of Nestlé’s first forays into the world of B2C ecommerce. To join the conversation millennials are already having about their struggle with adulting, Rosenberg and Miller took what they learned from their social listening sessions, created language to match what they heard, and designed a channel through which Nestlé could show rather than tell millennials how Nescafé might make their lives better.

The idea was to introduce the Nescafé Sweet & Creamy brand by touching a nerve with millennials who are:

  • Overwhelmed by adulthood
  • Craving a sweet & creamy taste
  • Willing to laugh at the growing pains of adulting

“A quick cup of delicious coffee is a little win millennials can celebrate during their transition,” Miller says. “We wanted to join the conversation in a way that positioned Nescafé as an important part of adulting while also helping millennials laugh a little bit.”

That meant giving away samples.

It also meant Nestlé would have to build out an ecommerce infrastructure, ensure logistics and fulfillment went off without a hitch, and seamlessly integrate analytics and other systems so it could optimize the campaign.

Remember, it all had to be done from scratch.

And completed in just eight weeks.

#Adulting: It’s Now a Hashtag

“I’ve never launched anything this quickly,” Rosenberg says of the Nescafé Sweet & Creamy campaign targeting millennials. “Other platforms would never allow us to launch this quickly which is one reason we chose to partner with Shopify.”

Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce platform for high volume merchants, is now the foundation on which the Nescafé Sweet & Creamy campaign is growing. Not only does the site humorously attempt to persuade millennials that an instant coffee can be a convenient solution that helps overcome adulting problems, but it aims to prove it.

“We knew we had to show rather than just tell,” Miller says. “The goal was to get them to sample so we offered them Nescafé for free.”

The results?

The combination of “free” as well as the tongue-in-cheek language Nescafé aimed at millennials yielded a blockbuster response no one expected:

  • 70% conversion rate when samples were available
  • The goal was to give away 21,000 Nescafé samples over the course of a year
  • However, 90% of that goal was achieved just a few hours after the campaign launched in March 2016

“We actually had to shut down the campaign the very first day,” Miller recalls. “People were so receptive to the Nescafé offer they literally blew through our expectations.”

There’s also evidence, according to Nestlé, that many of those millennial samplers have become customers who now purchase Nescafé. “From a sales point of view we’re ahead of our target, so it’s a big thumbs up,” Rosenberg says. “We’ve been really successful recruiting users to the brand and have not only seen purchases but repurchases as well.”

That doesn’t mean it was easy.

Behind the scenes, there were plenty of butterflies when it came to meeting the lightning quick 8-week deadline Nestlé had set. “There were definitely deadline concerns,” Miller says.

But One Method, which uses Shopify Plus for its own site, credits the platform’s easy to customize themes with helping it move faster than it might on other platforms. “When you have a great combination of people like those at Nestlé and Shopify anything is possible,” Miller says. “It was fast and furious.”

Especially once Shopify alleviated Nestlé’s concerns regarding the security of customer data which is housed with Shopify. “We have stringent cloud compliance standards so there was a lot of back and forth,” Rosenberg says. “But Shopify met our lofty standards and it was smooth sailing from there.”

Not only does Shopify power Nescafé’s ecommerce, but it’s also helping the brand tell a story that’s resonating with millennials. For instance, the Nescafé Adult Help Line is a comical poke at the struggles associated with transitioning to adulthood.

“It’s a real phone number,” Rosenberg says with a chuckle. “People actually called into the help line.”

That type of flexibility offered by Shopify gave Nestlé the confidence to experiment with B2C ecommerce like it rarely had before. “Shopify has all of the tools we require,” Rosenberg says. “It’s a turnkey solution and we’re optimistic about the Nescafé brand’s ecommerce future.”

Stir, sip, and love.

That’s the Nescafé promise to millennials.

But there are challenges ahead for Nestlé and its ecommerce ambitions.

The Coffee of Choice for Millennials

The shift, according to Nestlé, is starting.

But making Nescafé Sweet & Creamy the choice of millennials requires more than a single campaign powered by free samples. “We still have some work to do,” Miller says. “The value proposition is that hurried millennials no longer have to wait in line and spend five dollars on a cup of coffee that tastes great.”

The challenge is even more daunting when you consider online sales of grocery and food items in Canada are only a fraction of the overall market. “It’s just a drop in the bucket,” Rosenberg says. “But we want to be thought leaders so when grocery ecommerce does explode we’re right there at the forefront.”

Nescafé’s recent campaign is a strong start.

“We’re focusing on millennials who are new to adulting,” Rosenberg says. “They’re just starting their coffee journey and we want to be there to help them transition.”

Expect Nestlé to use Shopify’s robust app store to inspire future ecommerce efforts such as loyalty and subscription programs aimed at deepening the brand’s relationship with millennials. “Looking through all of the plugins Shopify offers really gets the creative juices flowing,” Rosenberg says.

In the meantime, Nescafé now has thousands of millennials who have given the brand permission to market to them further.

It’s a solid start to an effort Nestlé hopes will make Nescafé Sweet & Creamy the coffee of choice for the next generation.

“Even I’ve started believing Nescafé is a different brand now,” Rosenberg says. “That’s a telling sign because if you believe in your marketing others are likely to believe in it too.”