Why Nestle Is Doubling Down on First-Party Data and Trust to Prepare for GDPR

Including more customer reviews

GDPR will force all marketers to focus more on service. Getty Images
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming, a top digital executive at Switzerland-based Nestlé said it’s crucial to focus on how first-party data is collected is crucial.

During a South by Southwest panel about concierge marketing—the idea of servicing and personalizing marketing—Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital and social media at packaged goods conglomerate Nestlé, talked about how user reviews are proving to be a good source of first-party data to get around GDPR concerns.

Under GDPR, companies that collect third-party data are required to revamp their processes for collecting personal information, and consumers are allowed to opt-out. As brands ramp up their prep for GDPR (which goes into effect on May 25), marketers are increasingly focusing on first-party data practices that ask consumers to explicitly fork over their own information—think email signups, mobile app downloads and comments.

One way Nestlé collects first-party data is through online customer reviews on sites like Walmart and Amazon. The idea is that all the online chatter about consumers talking about brands can be mined for insights—even if it’s something as small as a review.

At the panel, Blackshaw said that “the big prize is to have the best reviews,” because consumers will “look at that and decide … those inputs that feed into it. [With] first-party data, we cannot take it for granted. We have to drive a high-trust bargain with consumers to get first-party data in the age of GDPR.”

After the panel, Blackshaw told Adweek that “I’m mostly thinking about it from how to raise the trust bar. I think all companies are going to have to work harder to bring consumers into their database with all of these rules, and I think that service is a very important part of that trust-building process.”

While marketers have always aimed to ramp up their first-party data efforts, “there are strings attached” with GDPR. Specifically, those ties entail penalties for companies that do not comply—20 million Euros, or 4 percent of a company’s global revenue, depending on which is larger.

“It’s forcing everyone to double-down on consumer trust,” he said.

There’s also a connection between data and service, he said. Blackshaw asked the audience how many brands and agencies know the top five questions consumers ask about their brand through a call center or social media. When only a few people raised their hands, Blackshaw said: “This is our problem and this is old-fashioned marketing—know thy consumer. Consumers are going out of their way without incentive, without being targeted and saying, ‘I love you, I’m mad at you’ … most of us have no clue about that.”

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.