Mars Edge President Jean-Christophe Flatin told the FoodNavigator 2021 Digital Summit: Positive Nutrition that consumers are increasingly interested in exploring new products in the health and wellness space.
"Nutrition is moving from the fringes; where it was for a small number of very passionate, very expert people,” he said. “We see this nutrition territory going mainstream and clearly the pandemic has accelerated the rising awareness on health as well the desire to take care of ourselves.”
Meanwhile, huge technological advancements are giving companies better access to data about the specific needs of consumers, allowing them to target customers with individual nutrition solutions.
"Thanks to data, digital AI, machine learning, we see absolute breakthroughs happening in nutritional science,” said Flatin.
He continued: “What we see is higher need for solutions to empower consumers with nutritional solutions and we see a much higher opportunity to provide those answers and provide a personalised version of products, services, solutions and nudging where consumers feel empowered.”
In 2019 Mars Edge acquired a majority stake in foodspring, a direct-to-consumer targeted nutrition company based in Berlin. Foodspring offers evidence-based and data-driven products for consumers with needs around sports performance, healthy living and shape, such as protein shakes, snacks and bars, muesli and porridge, and a range of beverages, explained Flatin. Alongside its product range, it offers a nutrition and fitness content platform through fitness videos, recipes, nutrition advice and a product recommendation engine.
‘An evidence-based approach’
Mars Edge has also created a nutritional supplement called CocoaVia, which is a cocoa extract dietary supplement based on Mars’ 20-year research on cocoa flavanols to aid cognition and heart health.
According to its president, these moves demonstrate the company’s efforts to ‘reconcile the food we want with the nutrition we need’. “We are taking a consumer-led and evidence-based approach, implementing data-enabled and digital solutions, all grounded in science and research,” he observed.
“We put data at the centre of what we do to drive differentiation, innovation, personalization and accuracy. And we focused on digital solutions with Direct-to-Consumer businesses that would enable us to stay close to consumers, listen and respond to their needs. We are doing so by focusing on consumers who are looking to keep healthy through sports, fitness, weight management, heart and brain health.”
Staying nimble and relevant
Mars Edge demonstrates how a global giant like Mars is cultivating its entrepreneurial mind set and reinventing itself to remain relevant for the next generation of consumers.
Through its acquisition of KIND, for example, Mars is expanding choices for consumers in the on-the-go snacking options. "Equally in our Mars food business we are constantly evolving our portfolio bring more vegetables, more legumes, more grains," noted Flatin.
Now, Mars Edge is focussed on offering 'better lives through nutrition'.
“There are millions of people out there that have a genuine motivation of wanting to be healthier, sharper and who are looking for solutions to solve their pain points,” he said. “That's why I’m convinced we are moving into mainstream territory here and so are the solutions we are democratising.”
Bringing food for nutrition to the masses
With increasing numbers of consumers able, for example via nutrition apps on mobile phones, to take control of their nutrition and diet, Flatin also predicts prices in the realm of personalised nutrition will democratise too. “I see [prices] going much more into the mainstream territory,” he said.
“Democratising solutions to bring access to millions of people is exactly what we intend and what we endeavour to do,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer business models have clearly gained during the pandemic. Will the D2C channel remain as relevant after COVID? “Yes, as long as we consider the D2C as part of the multiple channels that we as consumers like to shop into,” responded Flatin.
“The mix of different channels will continue to evolve and what's important for us as companies is to remember that not one single channel can be the winning one. We need to learn, and we need to develop how to be omnipresent in those different channels and offer the consumers a seamless navigation across those channels so that you can find us everywhere.”
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