Episode Topic: In this episode of NutraPreneur, we step into the dynamic world of consumer-centric innovation in the nutraceutical industry. Our guest, Peter Wennstrom, the Founder and Expert Consultant of Healthy Marketing Team (HMT), brings over three decades of experience in nutrition, health, and wellness, revolutionizing brand management in this evolving field.
Lessons You’ll Learn: Throughout this conversation, Peter shares invaluable insights into his journey leading the Healthy Marketing Team. He highlights the transformative FourFactors Brand Acceleration System and its role in supporting clients in FMCG, functional foods, dietary supplements, and beyond. Learn how HMT’s mission and consumer-focused approach set them apart, with an emphasis on the significance of consumer perception in the value chain. Explore the FourFactors system’s innovative applications, its role in overcoming challenges, and its ability to keep clients ahead of evolving regulations.
About Our Guest: Our esteemed guest, Peter Wennstrom is a seasoned expert with over 30 years of international brand management and strategic consultancy experience in the nutrition, health, and wellness industry. He is the creator of the renowned FourFactors system, a global leader in consumer-centric innovation. Peter’s vast expertise spans various sectors, including FMCG, functional foods, dietary supplements, and more. As the Founder of the Healthy Marketing Team, he has driven brand building in food and health, making him a highly regarded authority in the field.
Topics Covered: We navigate the world of consumer-centric innovation with Peter Wennstrom, exploring his journey and the pivotal role of the Healthy Marketing Team. Dive into the transformative FourFactors Brand Acceleration System, its global impact, and how it shapes HMT’s consultancy mission. Learn how consumer perception influences the value chain and drives strategies. Discover the innovative applications of the FourFactors system and its ability to overcome challenges and adapt to changing regulations.
Our Guest: Peter Wennstrom: Shaping the Future of Health and Wellness Worldwide
Our distinguished guest, Peter Wennstrom, is a luminary figure with a remarkable career spanning over three decades in international brand management and strategic consultancy. With unrivaled expertise and a profound impact on the industry, Peter has left an indelible mark on the global landscape of nutrition and wellness.
Peter Wennstrom’s illustrious career has been nothing short of extraordinary. For over 30 years, he has been a guiding force, providing strategic consultancy to clients across continents and in diverse sectors, including FMCG, functional foods, dietary supplements, and OTC. His insights and innovation have transcended borders, making him a sought-after authority in the field.
At the heart of Peter’s legacy lies the FourFactors system, a revolutionary approach to consumer-centric innovation in nutrition, health, and wellness. This groundbreaking system, introduced in 2003, has become the gold standard, implemented in over 60 countries on six continents. Peter’s commitment to empowering brands to innovate and thrive in the ever-evolving landscape has reshaped the industry.
Peter Wennstrom: Then on the benefit side, we have what you call benefit laddering. So to understand the benefit, how you have a functional rational benefit, that is, what happens in your body when you eat this. But then you have an intellectual benefit. Basically, how do you tell a friend of yours how this works? So starting the storytelling and then on top of this you have the emotional benefit, which basically what does it make you feel? And then in your brand communication, you can then actually ladder these. You can use these layers for the brand.
Bethany Jolley: Welcome to NeutralPreneur, the Nutra Industry Podcast. I’m your host, food scientist, and nutraceuticals consultant, Bethany Jolley. Each episode will be exploring what it takes to thrive in the nutraceutical industry, from conversations with successful nutraceutical entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to tech executives whose innovations are reshaping the nutraceuticals industry. We explore the innovations and trends that are shaping the next generation of nutraceutical businesses.
Welcome back to NutraPreneur, where we unravel the transformative narratives shaping the nutraceutical world. I’m Bethany, your host, and today we’re in for a treat as we delve into the realm of consumer-centric innovation. Joining us is Peter Weenstrom, the esteemed founder and expert consultant at HMT, which is short for Healthy Marketing Team. With over three decades of experience in nutrition, health, and wellness. Peter is revolutionizing how we approach brand management in this ever-evolving industry. So thank you for joining us for today’s episode, Peter.
Peter Wennstrom: Thank you, Bethany. It’s a pleasure to be invited.
Bethany Jolley: So first, I would love for you to share your journey and how you found yourself at the helm of Healthy Marketing Team, which is truly a pioneer in nutrition and wellness brand consultancy.
Peter Wennstrom: Well, actually my career, started in advertising industry. I was working in the 90s in Europe as a European multinational agency, and we had clients in food and pharma. So I had the opportunity to see how consumers sort of perceived health in relation to food and health in relation to medicine. Then somewhere early 90s, I was approached by companies who were doing something called functional food, and that was like this new idea that you added sort of scientifically proven ingredients to the average, to the food product and then instantly became healthier. And it was quite interesting then to see how the stakeholders for that new functional food were very science-driven. So I started to work with the first functional food products starting here in Sweden and then gradually sort of widening the geographic scope. But it was very clear that the science focused then was a bit of a problem. So I tried to apply the branding knowledge I had then from international, from the advertising agency, and with that I started then to develop the FourFactors Model, which basically meant that I had to explain how a consumer works for a professor. And then basically the other way around, how do you then communicate science to consumers? I needed to start to create like a hybrid model in order to create something that worked for the marketing of functional foods.
Because at the time, in the early 90s, in the late 80s, there were many big companies like Nestlé, Novartis, and others who pioneered and ventured out into functional foods, will say an appealing territory because there was high margins to normal food products. And the fact was they failed brutally. So realizing that was actually something wrong with the models they applied. They were intelligent companies, but something were obviously wrong with the models. So then realizing, yes, there’s actually a territory between food and farming. And that was sort of, in a way the starting point. And on my journey, as I created my own consultancy, and then on my journey, I met with Design Bridge, a London-based brand design agency, and we sort of teamed up in the ambition to actually bring connect strategy to brand execution. So we started Healthy Marketing in London in 2007 and we partnered and we basically split up in 2011. But that was the starting point. Then found myself at the helm of Healthy Marketing Team because that was the name we sort of brainstormed about how do we sort of position a branding company in that area. So we became the Healthy Marketing Team.
Bethany Jolley: Yeah, it’s really neat. And you mentioned the FourFactors . So the Healthy Marketing Team is known for its FourFactors brand acceleration system. So can you explain to us how this system, born from years of global experience, shapes the way you support your clients in FMCG, functional foods, dietary supplements, and even more?
Peter Wennstrom: Well, it actually started then way back with the professors and the other stakeholders in functional foods. What I basically stated, what I felt was very obvious coming from the advertising industry and the branding industry, that there was almost controversial in these scientific circles. I said the value chain starts in the mind of the consumer at the point of purchase, and then the FourFactors. Then I started to develop that based on research and observations. What are the decision factors? What are the things that goes through the mind of a consumer at the point of purchase? And then it was quite clear that there are four key factors. I need the product, I accept the ingredient, I understand the benefit and I trust the brand. And then you can elaborate and there are more questions connected to this. But that’s the key. And you know that a purchase decision takes a couple of seconds if you recognize the brand, a couple of more seconds if you don’t, but you disqualify a product very quickly if you don’t get those FourFactors right. So that was the starting point of the FourFactors. And then as this developed, another then wrote what is called The Food and Health Marketing Handbook, together at Julian Mellington from The Nutrition Business, and it was sort of sponsored by Tetra Pak, who was then sort of stakeholder in nutrition because they wanted to bring the consumer value to the consumers of or to the customers of the Tetra Pak packaging.
So in that context, they also brought in what I call the life cycle model, the understanding of how does innovation sort of diffuse from the technology stakeholder early innovators into the early adopters and early mass market and late mass market. And that then became what it was now known as the fourth-largest brand acceleration system. And you see it’s basically sort of a navigation system for innovation. You can understand where are the trends in the marketplace, where are you playing with your brand in your category and where are your consumers, and how to position your brand. So it becomes like sort of multi-layered model for basically sort of positioning brands, analyzing trends, etcetera. And that system has now been on the road since the early 2000. We carried this both as a wallpaper and in other ways digitally into over 60 countries across the globe, cooperating with big companies who then partner with us into training around using the FourFactors to train their teams on how to understand how consumers perceive food health through decide nutrition, health, and wellness.
Bethany Jolley: Yeah, that’s great. I’ve been in so many marketing brainstorming sessions where the brands you ask, well, what are consumers looking for? And they all kind of stare at each other like, I’m not sure. And so I think being able to really educate and train these brands on what consumers really are looking for is really important. I’d say your mission at the Healthy Marketing Team revolves around providing expert guidance in the intricate global realm of health and wellness. Can you elaborate on how you approach this mission and what sets your consultancy apart?
Peter Wennstrom: Well, one thing that has been with us already from the start is that we are actually working with change makers. We sort of change agents already in the functional foods is what it was about, bringing health into the marketplace place and then it was a niche. So you actually had to fight. It was like an uphill battle to bring that in. So already from the start, we worked with change makers, people who want to bring about change in the marketplace. And it could mean that you actually need to fight against regulatory bodies. I mean, you had the FSA in Sweden, you had the FDA in the US, and they were actually trying to block the road for healthier foods. So that has been in our DNA from the start, and that’s why we have as our mission statement, we create change together with our clients because it is our clients who are the game changers. They are the ones who are driving change. We just have to support them. Happy supporters, give them the tools, and then say, early 20 tens sustainability started to become that new thing that entrepreneurial, let’s say pilot companies, started to bring sustainability to the market. And Oatly was one of the first that we worked with already in 2012. And then they were change makers. They wanted to change the world. That was also that sustainability became the next thing. So health and sustainability are things that we want to bring to the market and there are barriers for this. It could be consumer disbelief, it could be regulatory bodies, could be other things. So it does mean that you need to be smart, you need to have good sort of systems and you need to create strong alignment within your client so that they believe in what they do and they can be successful in what they do.
Bethany Jolley: And you’ve said it once before already, but you really emphasize that value chain starts in the mind of the consumer. Could you explain the significance of this insight and how it drives your strategies for clients in the health and wellness industry?
Peter Wennstrom: Well, it’s fundamental, and you need to understand who is your target consumer. They’re often the well, not often, sometimes you can say, yeah, the consumer, but there is not one consumer. And the understanding of consumer segmentation along the lifecycle of innovation from science technology to the late mass market is so critical for the launch and development of an ingredient or a brand. Because if you go wrong, you’re dead. So it does mean that you need to understand who are the first consumers for your brand, who are the second consumers. And you also need to understand very clearly where is your brand playing.
So if you’re like a Heinz ketchup, then you know, yes, you are already in the late mass market, but if you’re an Oatly, then yes, you’re still with the early adopters, people who bond with, let’s say, the planetary activism, etcetera. So it means those brands, they cannot change place. Same thing if you start to learn something that’s sort of a medically good for your heart health, then you’re in a much more medical space and realizing those or for example, if you launch something for convenience, then you’re another space and to realize those playing fields and those playing fields are very clearly set out. There’s a playing field for medical brands, the playing field for lifestyle brands, for early adopters, believers. There’s a playing field for solution-driven brands with the early mass market, and there’s a playing field for the traditional brands for the late mass market.
So it’s almost like there’s a rulebook out there and you can just ask any consumer, they’re pretty quick in telling you where a brand lives. That also goes back to the definition of the brand. A brand is something that lives in the mind of the consumer. So a company doesn’t own their brand. They can own the trademark, the logo, the name, but the brand is owned by the consumer. And that’s the rule of the game. And that’s why when it goes wrong, it goes totally wrong because you haven’t understood what the consumer, how the consumer sees your brand, or how you can get into the mind. So it’s critical.
Bethany Jolley: That’s a really interesting perspective. I’ve never really thought of it that way, where the consumers are the ones owning the brand and driving the brand. So that’s a really great way to put it. And I think it’s safe to say the nutrition and wellness landscape is rapidly evolving. So how does the Four Factor system incorporate innovation possibly in unexpected ways, to really assist your clients in reaching their goals?
Peter Wennstrom: Well, you can see in a almost like a side effect is that when we work with innovation in the FourFactors brand acceleration system, in the innovation life cycle, looking at what are the trends, where are the trends in the life cycle, Where are you in your category? Where is your brand, etcetera? What then also comes in is the understanding of. What’s your corporate culture? So suddenly you start to realize and we realized over the years that the corporate culture in a way corresponds to the brand you have. And where are you playing the marketplace? So that has become a growing understanding that the success factor for your, for a company is not just the way they sort of market their brand. It’s also the way they understand their culture.
So let’s say a science-driven company, they are very sort of focused on rationality, science, and then sort of a more like a lifestyle brand. They are much more passionate. They are believers almost like they believe in religion. So it’s not about rationality because you believe you can walk on water. Then if you move into the early adopter brands, they’re there. You move into the brands that are really sort of driven by marketing plans. They need to take your market share and I used to describe them and they are like they have PowerPoint presentations. It’s about sort of doing things in the right order and you get things right. And then finally, the late mass market brands, the bigger older corporations. They are now so detailed. So they basically run by Excel sheets. Everything is in the right place and you can’t change anything. So when you then work with a company that’s driven by an Excel sheet and you talk about innovation in an earlier stage, then you very often end up in the answer, yes, but we have not done that before, yes. But we did it once, but it didn’t work.
So the culture is like a side effect of this. And it’s so important now, for example, when we are working with purpose-driven brands, those brands that are really want to change the world, but then it’s about creating a movement that starts within the company with the owner, the board, the management. So it’s a cultural thing when you create a brand. So yes, the side effect or the unexpected output is the culture, the purpose, and the understanding of the corporate culture, because that can actually make or break the good innovation.
Bethany Jolley: Exactly. And I’m sure you come across all sorts of company cultures in this industry, and a lot of them can be resistant to change. But if you really want to evolve and have new innovation, you have to just adapt. And I know in my experience, challenges often fuel innovation. So can you share a case with us where financial constraints such as those related to media spend, spurred creative solutions that have elevated the success of your client?
Peter Wennstrom: But could actually go back to a company I mentioned before. When we worked with them to create their website, to reposition their brand, or to create their brand 11 years ago now, they had then quite traditional retail strategy in Sweden and in some other sort of, let’s say, where they were, which was their home market. And the retail strategy, of course, means that you need to have a marketing budget to create the demand in the, say, the pool in the supermarkets. But once you start to look at exporting, then as a small company, you cannot afford a big media budget in Germany or in UK or in the US, it’s just impossible.
So understand that restriction meant that you need to understand how do we then go about creating market success or a new brand like Oakley. And the understanding was very clearly that yes, we needed to start by bonding with the communities, the people that would actually love our brand so that you first create a strong following for your brand. And we identified, for example, like vegans, you identified people and those flocked in the coffee shops. So then to understand that, yes, we needed to secure the communities, needed to secure coffee shops as the first distribution channel and also then realizing that in this it would be dangerous to go to retail too early.
Go see if you went to retail and unfortunately, I see this time and time again and we give this warning to all our startup clients do not go to retail, but very often they are driven by the expectations of investors that wants quick output or high volumes. So they jump to retail too quickly and retail can sometimes be very tempted to bring in some new and exciting, but then they just fold their arms and say, well, you’re not creating any demand, so now you’re out. So not having enough money can actually be a virtue for a new brand because you need to start by creating your loyal community or followers. So that was a strategy that was then evolved by Oatly and also the fact that we then started, looked at, we call them Urban Blitz. Instead of looking at sort of countries, we looked at sort of urban areas. Basically, they don’t even think London, think a part of London. They take things, basically eat the elephant bit by bit, secure your loyal consumers as you go and that’s the way to grow in Estonia.
Bethany Jolley: This episode is brought to you by nutrapayments.com. If your business needs credit card processing that fully integrates with most major neutral software platforms, offers the lowest industry prices, and has built-in features like recurring billing, $0 trials, and chargeback prevention and visit us at neutral payments.com for a free online quote. I think that’s great advice. So many brands just focus on getting into these big retail stores and like you said, sometimes they aren’t successful and it’s better to build up that loyal customer base first before you dive into those big retail stores. And something we talk about, I think pretty much every episode is all of the rules and regulations that have to be followed. So adapting to these changing regulations can be a constant challenge. How does the four-factor system keep your clients ahead of the curve while ensuring their brands align with all of these evolving standards?
Peter Wennstrom: Well, the challenge so many clients face in the area of nutrition, for example, and functionality is regulations, and very often they are blocking themselves by thinking of what are the health claims that we are allowed to make and again, they are thinking about rational things. So what we then do is that you lead them into the FourFactors. That helps them understand what we then call the three levels of benefits. If you think of the FourFactors, the factor of understand the benefit and then of course you have the storytelling. We know you can already without having a claim, you can actually work with storytelling around the ingredient, nice anecdotal facts, etcetera. And lots of consumers love that kind of stories. Then on the benefit side, we have what you call benefit laddering. So to understand the benefit, you have a functional rational benefit. That is what happens in your body when you eat this, but then you have an intellectual benefit basically. How do you tell a friend of yours how this works? So starting the storytelling and then on top of this you have the emotional benefit, which basically what does it make you feel? And then in your brand communication, you can then actually ladder these, you can use these layers for the brand.
So for example, if you see an advertising for Red Bull that has sort of contains some caffeine and guarana and other stuff that actually raises your energy levels, intellectually, you can actually say, yes, it contains these things. This makes you stay awake. That’s great. I’ll take that. But then if you look at the advertising, they have something that Red Bull gives you wings. So it’s like the touching on an emotional level, playful. And if you look at other successful brands in the area, you see that when they are successful, they actually on an emotional level. So at least understand that, yes, there’s more than claims. If we have sort of 12 different points in the FourFactors model, the claim is only one out of 12 that you can work with in the communication and positioning.
So actually to lead the team into that understanding so that good thing is you need to have like this cross-functional team so you have the scientists or the people, you have the regulatory person, you have marketing and sometimes sales and others so that you can actually align on the understanding of these different levels so that you don’t get the terror of a silo organization where you then have a nice workshop, create a lovely positioning. Then you go to the regulatory person who says no, and then you go to the scientists who says, Oh no! And then you go to the sales people says, no. Then suddenly they will all add their little changes to this. So once you pass all these silos, you come out with some kind of Frankenstein and then it’s passed by everyone.
So you have a ticking all the boxes, then you can launch it and then it fails. So we have done a number of failure analyses of big companies, big failures and the result of the failures they’ve all gone through that sort of those silos get all the tick boxes. Yes, everyone has ticked it off, and goes totally wrong. So it is that alignment and the understanding of the rational, the emotional, and intellectual, how that comes together for the consumer. I mean, because just like you, Bethany, all those things are part of your personality. You’re not just a functional person or an intellectual or an emotional. All those levels exist at the same time.
Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. When people see brands or advertisements, they just think marketing. But there’s so many other areas and departments that play into that. And I think just aligning those from the start, like you said, is really important so that you’re not going back and forth or you’re really excited about something, and then someone tells you. So I think just aligning all of that in the beginning is really great advice. So talking about your clients, could you walk us through the journey a client typically takes with the Healthy Marketing Team highlighting how the FourFactors system plays a pivotal role in their success?
Peter Wennstrom: It’s almost like two different ways. One is when it’s in the background and one is when it’s in the forefront that you can have a company that comes to us with a challenge for their brand or they want to sharpen their positioning or they want to sort of create more like a growth platform, then we sort of take them through the journey, which basically is a number of steps. The first discovery where we find out all the facts that need to be, and then we move into the co-creation, where we bring them into the, let’s say, the Four Factor system. And we have a number of workshops with the client where we’re looking at sort of what are the trends, where are you playing, where do you want to go, how to get there, etcetera.
So very much road mapping with the whole team and it’s a step-by-step decision making. So everyone is sort of holding their hands through this navigation system and then usually coming up with a very clear brand proposition that everyone can stand up behind or a brand positioning blueprint. And that means that we have worked with the FourFactors in the background, just like a mechanic fixes a car, then out again, the FourFactors doesn’t follow but then with, with sometimes with business to business companies, then we are sort of training them on the FourFactors and how to use that in their business to business, to consumer activity, so co-create often with their customers using the FourFactors very openly.
So we even sort of have sort of FourFactors installed in one of our clients’ innovation centers in Singapore where they can actually use this. And we also then designed an innovation center in Europe, in Paris for another big client, where it’s where the FourFactors are a little bit in the background, but it creates the structure for an innovation center, a consumer-centric innovation center. So you can say. And then of course, we’re also doing trainings that we’ve done with sometimes with government bodies or functional food clusters, where we take small, let’s say, entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized companies through the FourFactors training as a way to give them a toolbox they can apply when they then fly off. So in that way, yes, the FourFactors are either used like the wrench or the mechanic to fix the car and away you go, or it’s a toolbox that we actually apply and sort of almost like give the client. And in that, we also have sort of set up a FourFactors academy online. So you can actually just find the Four Factor Academy online and go in there and you’ll meet me and there’s a couple of training sessions and we give you sort of a basic understanding of the FourFactors.
Bethany Jolley: That’s great. I always love educational resources and think it’s great also that you can kind of tailor the FourFactors for the needs of the various brands. And the Healthy Marketing Team is really all about targeted consumer-centric brands. So how do you maintain this focus on excellence as you expand your reach and work with clients across all of these diverse categories and even, as you mentioned, different continents?
Peter Wennstrom: Be let’s say our luck is the fact that my company has always attracted talents so and so. And already from the start, we work closely with universities. I mean, on the one side we attract talents like sort of senior marketeers. That comes comes to us with the experience, let’s say, from FMCG background. So they come with a very structured competence in marketing. Then the other side is that we are then working together with a couple of master courses. So both masters in Food and Health Information Management up to university in Netherlands. And we work together with the Master course in applied cultural analysis, behavioral, and behavioral science in a university in Sweden. Then we get the master students coming to us doing their internship and we then we’ve been so fortunate to be able to keep some of these talented master students who then come from different countries. So we have in our team, we have people from China, from Netherlands, from Thailand, from and so all over the place. And that gives us at the same time we work with clients from different countries. We then in our team, we have people from different countries and cultures and most of them actually have a master’s degree in nutrition and science and then coupled with marketing competence.
Peter Wennstrom: So we have sort of quite grounded in that. And then we also have quite a lot of cooperation as. With conference and expo organizers. We also. We are also content providers for big conferences across the globe. So it means that we are constantly doing our research on our tools. So trying to always on the FourFactors, brand acceleration system, expanding the understanding of the consumer. So late last year, we did a lot of research, for example, on consumer narratives related to mental wellbeing. How do you actually connect to consumers in that in that? We’ve done several reports and research in the area of sports nutrition and we’ve been looking into plant-based. We’re looking at sort of how do you enter the mass market triggers and barriers. So always looking at what’s relevant, what’s hot for our clients and where can we do research that helps to deepen our and their understanding of how to be successful out there with health, nutrition, and wellness. So in that sense, we were already we were sort of we were we are in a way curious and research-focused all the time to stay sort of out to the front.
Bethany Jolley: Yeah. And I’d love to talk about the future of HMT a bit. So looking forward, what exciting developments or projects are on the horizon that you can share, and what’s your future vision for the Healthy Marketing Team?
Peter Wennstrom: Well, at the moment the instead of the we are right now when we speak, we have sort of a team in us working with, let’s say the working closely, working with the launch of a plant-based brand in the US, we have a sort of a team now also set up to work with the client. We have a couple of projects with China and at the same time, we have a couple of projects in the middle in Europe. And so what I see now is actually that we could consolidate. The next step for the health marketing team would be on one side. Actually, we sort of tried to create sort of units in different parts of the world. Today, we’re very sort of we are we have one sort of one hub. And that’s one. So let’s say expansion, because we see that we have a very solid model, solid reputation, and it’s easy to train good people on this, so that’s one side. The other one is that we have grown the business model a little. So we have so instead of, let’s say, just being a strategy brand strategy consultants, we have, let’s say on consumer, on customer demand also then gradually added on the creative services. So now today we have the full capability to take a design from basically from consumer trends to brand design. So that is also the second dimension on how to of the future looks like. So adding a bit more confidence intervals there to really help our clients win in the marketplace.
Bethany Jolley: Yes, that’s very exciting. So once again, thank you for joining us today, Peter. And as we wrap up our enlightening conversation that we’ve had, we’ve really embarked on a journey into the heart of innovation and consumer-centric branding and the nutrition and wellness arena. You can explore the world of the Healthy Marketing Team further through the links that are provided in the show notes, and stay tuned for more thought-provoking discussions. You can join us on social media as we continue to uncover the evolving landscape of nutraceutical innovations. Until our next episode, stay curious and committed to shaping the future of nutrition and wellness.
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