Charisse Hughes, SVP, Chief Brand and Advanced Analytics Officer

We believe there is a shift from organization-led brands to brand-led organizations (e.g. Disney, Amazon, Apple) where the business is the commercial manifestation of a powerful brand. Do you recognize this shift? What are the challenges and opportunities in it?

Absolutely. Now, more than ever, consumers want to work with and buy from brands that stand for something and that they trust. One of the reasons I joined Kellogg back in 2020 was because its values matched my own. Our Vision – A good and just world where people are not just fed, but fulfilled. Our Purpose – Creating better days and a place at the table for everyone. Both are a declaration of how we approach everything – from food design to marketing to innovation and beyond – all to reach our consumers in culturally relevant ways.

Sure, there can be challenges to living by our purpose. For example, what works in one market may not in another, and we have to adjust our strategies. But those hurdles also present opportunities for us to get closer to our consumers in those markets. We use consumer insights, advanced data, and analytics to better understand the lived experiences of those consumers so we can authentically connect with them.

Additionally, we established an award-winning K Way of Inclusive Marketing program, which is about educating our marketers on how to connect with our diverse consumers. The multicultural population has $4 Trillion in spending power; it’s critical that we represent and understand the communities we serve to provide them with affordable and accessible foods.

We use consumer insights, advanced data, and analytics to better understand the lived experiences of those consumers so we can authentically connect with them.

Our Best Global Brands data suggests that brands who not only provide superb experiences but also take a leading stance on social issues are more relevant to consumers. How are you approaching this in your organization?

Going back to our vision and purpose, Kellogg’s Better Days is our purpose platform and ESG strategy that promises to advance sustainable and equitable access to food by addressing the intersection of well-being, hunger, sustainability, equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) for 3 billion people by the end of 2030.

The current food crisis iterates the importance of addressing food security and well-being. Factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war with Ukraine are reducing exports of food crops, pushing global food prices higher, and increasing the risk of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

For these reasons, among the ways we are achieving our Kellogg’s Better Days Promise is by accomplishing the following:

• Nourishing 1 billion people with our foods
• Feeding 375 million people in need
• Nurturing people and the planet, including support for 1 million farmers and workers.
• Ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion in our workforce.
• Engaging 1.5 billion people in advocating for sustainable and equitable access to food.

Our Kellogg’s Better Days Promise is well entrenched in our business and culture. It demonstrates to our employees, consumers, customers, investors, and others that Kellogg cares about the communities where we live and operate and is central and critical to our company’s growth.

Why, in a recession, should a business continue to invest in their brand? How do you think the investment in brand and marketing, will evolve or change over the next 12 – 18 months?

Research shows that advertising impact increases during a recession, partly because the total level of “noise” from advertising in the media decreases (meaning that the probability of any single advertisement being noticed, observed, and persuading consumers increases) and partly because the cost of advertising decreases, which means that it’s easier to maintain or build SOV. Simply put, there is less noise because often, competitors are cutting spending.

The moment you stop investing, you lose market share. When you’re building a brand, you’re building a promise grounded in trust and consistency, and the way to continue to reinforce those messages is through investments that help us get closer to the consumer.

Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. Brands with staying power will invest in the capabilities to drive personalized experiences and grow brand affinity.

In early 2022, my role evolved from Global CMO to Chief Brand and Advanced Analytics officer – a shift that is emblematic of what’s happening in marketing because we knew that data is our competitive advantage.

Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. Brands with staying power will invest in the capabilities to drive personalized experiences and grow brand affinity.

How has your competition evolved over the past 24 months? Where are you seeing or experiencing the greatest threats? What are the biggest opportunities? Are you seeing new or surprising competitors entering the space?

The pandemic shifted eating occasions, and the rise of snacking is here to stay as people continue to work from home and are moving away from two or three large meals daily. We saw that breakfast cereals grew significantly during the pandemic because it’s an easy go-to and cost-efficient meal. We also saw a shift in dietary preferences, and consumers prioritizing healthy eating habits more so than ever before. High fiber, whole grain, and claimable protein are among the leading health claims, while more progressive brands are pushing into digestive health, reduced sugar options, and even immunity.

While traditional breakfast cereals are not native to many emerging markets, top competitors have been able to expand into these high-growth markets by offering their well-known global brands adapted for local flavors or ingredients, or recipes. This is encouraging more consumer interest and adoption of the breakfast category globally.

Consumer prices continue to climb, and, in most countries, inflation is growing faster than nominal wages, which means consumers have less disposable income, even for staple items like food. Competitors that are focused on delivering value for consumers are setting themselves apart. Whether that is a cereal brand that everyone in the family loves to eat or offering smaller, affordable pack sizes so that a nutritious, delicious breakfast is still within the budget.

At the end of the day, the brands that are winning in our categories have the ability to be agile and flexible enough to quickly adapt to changing consumer demands to unlock growth and propel their brands forward. Evolving digital and data-based marketing capabilities will be paramount to the success of any brand playing in the CPG space.

We have come to recognize brands as being powerful acts of leadership. In what ways do your brand’s moves reflect you/your organization’s belief system?

Our founder, W.K. Kellogg, believed that part of running a good business was doing good for society. This promise has guided our company for over a century. And our promise remains to create better days and a good and just world for years to come.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments have been gaining much attention with the rise in societal demand for companies to lead with purpose and generate positive impact. However, this isn’t new to Kellogg. As a leading global plant-based foods company, we’ve been on a journey since our founding to impact people and the planet positively. It’s who we are and who we’ve always been, long before ESG was drafted or defined as it is today.

We start every project with that foundation, and that discipline allows us to be more creative in food design and communication design because we know what we stand for.

A few examples of how we’ve married our purpose to acts of leadership include:

  • Inclusive packaging – we partnered with NaviLens to include their technology on our cereal packaging, which allows the visually impaired to access packaging information, such as the product name, nutrition, and allergen information, via their smartphones. We are the first food company to provide this technology, ensuring our products are accessible to as many people as possible.
  • School Breakfast Research – Prior to the pandemic, 41% of children under 15, worldwide, were experiencing food insecurity. We recently commissioned research to develop a deeper understanding of the benefits of school and community breakfast programs. The study was conducted in five countries where breakfast programs are at different stages of development: Brazil, India, South Africa, the U.K., and the U.S., We learned that these programs not only provide nourishment, but also support a child’s sense of belonging, security, and identity. We’re proud to say that we support feeding programs in 26 countries and have impacted more than 4 million children worldwide since 2015.
  • Movember – Pringles’ Mr. P. shaved his mustache to support Movember. This charity encourages men around the world to grow mustaches each November to raise money for men’s health issues. On November 1st, we kicked off the program for the third year. The objective is to have meaningful conversations about mental health. This allows us to have this conversation internally with consumers and to get our customers engaged as well.
  • Ingrained – More than 4 billion people rely on rice as a primary source of nourishment. However, rice production accounts for 12% of total global methane emissions – a greenhouse gas (GHG) 20x more potent than carbon dioxide. To address this, Kellogg has implemented a climate-positive agricultural program called Kellogg’s InGrained, which will work with partners in the Lower Mississippi River Basin to reward rice farmers for the tons of greenhouse gas emissions they reduce.
  • Chef-in-Residence – In 2021, we created a Chef-in-Residence fellowship. We hired two Black chefs who work alongside our global R&D team to explore the foods of Black cultures globally and introduce people to a new world of food that Kellogg hasn’t explored before, all to help create a seat at the table for everyone.

Our founder, W.K. Kellogg, believed that part of running a good business was doing good for society. This promise has guided our company for over a century.


How Big Is Your Appetite for Growth?