Kraft Heinz is famous for its data driven and fact based way of working. The company owns brands that can almost be considered part of Dutch national heritage, such as Venz, de Ruijter and Honig. Kraft Heinz recently intensified its marketing approach, increasing focus on consumers and long-term brand equity. The company is hiring a new Category Director Benelux to make marketing concepts actionable and translate them into value creating partnerships with retailers.
With 26 billion in revenue Kraft Heinz is the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world. The company owns some of the biggest global brands in food industry. Heinz Ketchup is probably their most iconic. Besides global brands, Kraft Heinz’s portfolio consists of a wide variety of local brands. In the Netherlands they’re most famous for Venz, de Ruijter, Karvan Cévitam, Roosvicee and Honig. Household names that every family has in its fridge or pantry.
Kraft Heinz is aspiring to be the best food company in the world. They strive to have the highest EBITDA margins, grow their top line, own the most beloved brands and sell the highest quality products. To become the best, they hire the most talented people. Their philosophy: your people are your only true competitive advantage. That’s why Kraft Heinz is only looking to hire the best and spends a great deal of time and effort in unlocking their full potential.
Kraft Heinz gives its employees the freedom to chart their own course. They stimulate people to get out of their comfort zone, never accept the status quo, take calculated risks and be creative. At Kraft Heinz no one is hung up on titles and hierarchy. It’s about your can-do, not about your have-done. Outperformers can move quickly through the ranks, regardless of age or experience.
“Kraft Heinz has developed a coherent culture that values performance, not glamour; accomplishments, not age or status; contribution, not title; the talent, not the credentials; simplicity, not outfits; they have created a recipe for success and sustained results.” – Jim Collins about Kraft Heinz in his famous book ‘Good to Great’
For the first time in about five years Kraft Heinz Benelux recorded growing revenue and profit figures. Frequently asking questions like ‘What do consumers want?’, ‘How does that play into the trade?’ and ‘How do we make it happen internally?’ were the basis for change. It gave the company a better understanding of their consumers, their categories and their role within the larger ecosystem. This led to a new mindset that elevated marketing from a tactical and operational activity to a strategic capability that builds brand equity and generates long-term impact.
About a year ago Victoria Sjardin joined Kraft Heinz as CMO for the EMEA region. She is the embodiment of the revamped marketing focus. She talks about marketing as a combination of magic and logic, of creativity and analytics. She brings a lot of magic, without losing sight of business performance and data driven insights.
The Category Director is the primary P&L owner, which is unique to Kraft Heinz’s organizational set-up. The company steers mainly on categories, instead of on brands or accounts. That gives the Category Director a very prominent role in the commercial organization.
He/she develops the plans that deliver the yearly sales targets. The Category Director sets the promotional plan, determines the pricing strategy and strategically times the introduction of innovations. He/she leads the category organization in the Benelux of about 12 fte and reports to Carlos Henrique Faria, the Managing Director Benelux.
“It’s no coincidence that a lot of the current Managing Directors have experience as Category Director. That shows the importance of the role. Therefore the new Category Director has to be an absolute rock star. Someone who can think strategically, partner with our retailers and is extremely comfortable with numbers and financials.” – Carlos Henrique Faria, Managing Director Benelux
Commercial topics flow naturally between Marketing, Category Management and Sales. Therefore the Marketing Director, the Category Director and the Sales Director work in close cooperation. Marketing has the most long-term perspective of the three. They develop plans and strategies for next year and further. Category’s prime focus, as strategic sparring partner, is to make Marketing’s long-term plans actionable for the next twelve months. Sales is the final link in the chain and tasked with execution.
As an example let’s look at product and concept innovation. Marketing is responsible for designing the innovations. Category Management takes the new products and concepts and develops the proposition towards retailers, e.g. in terms of why they should put the new product or concept in their stores, how it fits within the overall trends in the category, what price point will drive sales and when to launch.
A significant part of the work of the Category Director is externally focused. Therefore he/she has a natural intellectual curiosity to the dynamics of the industry. He/she stays up to date on for example category trends, changing consumer preferences and activities from other brands.
The Category Director also has a good feel for the dynamic between Kraft Heinz and the retailers, knowing how to best work with them in order to create mutual value and build long-term partnerships. At the end of the year he/she sits with the Category Leads to discuss account plans for next year and joins the meetings with the biggest and most important clients.
Kraft Heinz is the most data driven company in FMCG. Whether it’s about marketing campaigns, product innovations or assortment planning, all key decisions are based on data and analytical insights. The Category Director is the ambassador for this way of working within the commercial organization. He/she knows his ways around analyses on customer and sales data, and works closely with Finance to analyze financials.
Next to his/her important commercial role, the Category Director manages the category teams, helping them e.g. to make plans, improve their communication with retailers, optimize the assortment review process and strengthen the cooperation between the different category teams.
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