DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Taking matters into its own hands, snack and candy company Mondelez International Inc. has embarked on a broad development project designed to bring mobile applications to retail situations, with two regional convenience store chains participating in the process.
Its "Mobile Futures" project, which involved an initial phase of whittling more than 100 startup companies down to 22 and then to nine, will involve the manufacturer's internal brand teams, pairing these departments up with one (and in one department's case, two) of the final startups.
Representatives from Kum & Go, West Des Moines, Iowa, and Quick Chek, Whitehouse Station, N.J.--anonymous when the initiative was first announced in October (see Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage)--were part of the process that helped determine the final nine startups.
The process will continue in two phases. In the first phase, all eight Mondelez International brands will work with their chosen startup partners, using existing technology, to develop and launch new pilots within 90 days. Mondelez will fund all nine pilots.
In the second phase, participating brands, with the help of their startup partners, will develop ideas and create new mobile ventures, also in a 90-day timeframe. This will kick off with a concept-development week at the end of the company’s first quarter, in which a few different concepts will be developed and one or two of the best ideas will advance. Ultimately, Mondelez will place those ideas before identified investors and venture capitalists in the hopes of securing seed funding.
The project is the result of about three years of investigation into how mobile devices can help in marketing and driving impulse sales. "We felt mobile [communication] is one of the best ways to engage the consumer in a relevant manner that's closest to point of purchase," said Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation and emerging technology at Mondelez. "We feel it's time to scale that work and connect multiple startups with multiple [internal] brands to simultaneously drive innovation to consumer engagement."
Involving the two c-store chains is part of a "holistic" approach to develop new marketing strategies, Kaczmarek told CSP Daily News. "A lot of times what happens is a manufacturer will do one thing and push it out into market," he said. "We're collaborating with all partners to make certain what we get out to market has more … thought behind it, and more importantly, becomes relevant to the consumer."
Involving all participants in the supply chain helps speed the process of what Kaczmarek called "cultural development," where the parties involved become educated about the project and motivated to adopt it. Part of that motivation comes with an "entrepreneurial" element, where participants quickly identify the best ideas, obtain funding and bring the concepts to market before the competition.
"We try to be very nimble with decisions because speed is always very important," Kaczmarek said. "We want to act, we want to learn, we want to evolve."
The company received hundreds of applications, and after a two-day presentation event with the program's top entrants, Mondelez selected nine startup companies to partner with brand teams to create and launch new mobile pilots in just 90 days. Pilots will focus on driving impulse purchases and mobile-at-retail consumer experiences, with additional pilots in the important areas of social TV and SoLoMo (social/location/mobile).
Brands and startups will work together as follows:
"We are excited to have these brilliant mobile innovators on board and look forward to working together over the next 90 days to bring new technologies to market," said Bonin Bough , vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelez. "Our marketers were truly impressed by the caliber of innovation they saw at our pitch event. They are now eager to continue to work with start-ups to drive high-impact experiences, beyond 'Mobile Futures,' as we continue to march towards a mobile-first strategy."
"The Chips Ahoy! team is thrilled to begin working with Shelby.tv as we look to enhance how we engage with our consumers through mobile and particularly social TV," said Leslie Waller, senior brand manager, Chips Ahoy! at Mondelez.
"I'm really excited about our startup selection, Waze--in particular, the variety of ways their technology can drive impulse purchases with Stride and keep the brand top-of-mind with consumers. 'Mobile Futures' gives us a great opportunity to partner with a mobile tech-star of the future," said Betty Su , director of marketing for Young Adult Gum at Mondelez.
Deerfield, Ill.-based Mondelez is a manufacturer of chocolate, biscuits, gum, candy, coffee and powdered beverages, comprising the brands of the former Kraft Foods Inc. following the spinoff of its North American grocery operations in October 2012. Mondelez's portfolio includes Cadbury and Milka chocolate; Jacobs coffee; LU, Nabisco and Oreo biscuits; Tang powdered beverages and Trident gums. Mondelez has annual revenue of approximately $36 billion and operations in more than 80 countries.