The Road to Brandweek: Mondelez’s Patty Gonzalez on the Mandatory Nature of Brand Authenticity

And why Triscuit is a portfolio highlight

Headshot Patty Gonzalez
Patty Gonzalez heads up U.S. savory brands at Mondelēz International.
Mondelez

CPG giant Mondelez International has more than 40 brands, including Dentyne and Newtons, that are older than a century—not bad, right?

Ahead of Adweek’s annual Brandweek event, which will take place Nov. 3-6 in Palm Springs, Calif., we spoke to Patty Gonzalez, senior director of U.S. savory brands at Mondelez, about the company’s mission—“empower people to snack right”—and to get her take on how these brands interact with customers, each with an authentic purpose.

How do you navigate your marketing and advertising in the age of rapid consumer feedback?
Patty Gonzalez:
It’s so important to stay close to the consumer. Each year, we reach millions of households with our delicious savory snacks [including Ritz, Triscuit and Wheat Thins]. Every day, millions of people invite us into their homes and into their lives for their afternoon snack moments, their celebrations with family and friends and beyond—so how we show up in those moments matters.

As the Savory Snack Portfolio lead, I take that responsibility very seriously. When our consumers post something online, tweet or call us to share either accolades or their concerns, it’s important that we are listening and really hear what they’re saying. It means we need to stay present to what’s happening externally, with our consumers and in the marketplace, when we could just as well easily put our attention only or predominantly on things internal. While it’s a continuous journey, we are focused on prioritizing social listening and ensuring that the consumer is first and at the heart of our business.

What’s the biggest buzzword in the industry today and how is Mondelez preparing for it?
We’ve been talking a lot at Mondelez International about purpose. We’re all seeing increased conversation in the industry and from consumers on greater demands for authenticity from brands, increased desire for wellbeing credentials from products [that] reflect the way we live our lives today, as well as the rise of corporate social responsibility in brand strategies.

I’m personally very inspired by brands like Nike, REI, CVS and so many more. I think at the heart of all of this is the mandatory nature of an authentic purpose for brands. When we are true to this, our actions feel authentic and people trust that we are coming from a genuine place. We have seen this with Oreo, an iconic, beloved consumer brand which has focused on a clear brand purpose, listening to and being inspired by consumers, which in turn drives the brand and those working on the business. I look forward to sharing more about Oreo and our other iconic brands in November.

Name one important thing about your brand that you wish more consumers knew.
We’ve got an amazing portfolio of iconic snacking brands that excite and inspire me and consumers in the U.S. and around the world, every day. I could go on for days talking about all of our brands and look forward to sharing more in November.

For me, one highlight in our portfolio is Triscuit, which has such an authentic and delicious farm-to-table story. Triscuit has been a favorite of consumers for more than 100 years, dating back to 1902. We bake Triscuit with just three ingredients, and we buy all our wheat for Triscuit products from a cooperative in Michigan. I had the pleasure of attending the wheat harvest in Michigan this summer, and it was so inspiring to see the fields where this amazing product begins as well as meet the incredible farmers who help make this delicious snack possible.

What’s the biggest change that your company or your industry has had to contend with in the last two years?
With the emergence of new and broader options across the overall digital, ecommerce and shopping space (across alternative channels), we are seeing an evolution in the consumer journey. As this happens, it’s important that marketers truly understand where consumers are spending their time and why they’re doing so, and then immerse ourselves in that experience. I find this particularly inspiring as we focus on building brand equity and go-to-market brand strategies.

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