Corporate reputation management: Nestle

8 Nov

Here are some links for a case study we'll be exploring in class on Monday.

What is Nestle best known for? Confectionery (KitKat) and coffee (Nescafe) are the most recognisable of its many brands.

What about the company's strategic direction? Nestle says it is 'the world's leading nutrition, health and wellness company' and that it is committed to increasing the nutritional value of its products while improving the taste. The UK site is more explicit, claiming it's 'putting health and wellness at the heart of our business'.

As The Economist explores this week, this is a bold claim for a chocolate company ('The unrepentant chocolatier'). What are the risks and challenges arising from this focus?

We'll be analysing whether this corporate strategy is consistent with what we can know of the organisation's culture and values. How should this strategy influence corporate communications?

And then there's the long-running saga of the promotion of infant formula in the developing world. Nestle defends its actions as responsible and agrees in most cases that 'breast is best'. Yet the campaign isn't going away, and has become a defining issue for anti-globalisation activists. What can and should the company do about this? What effect could this have on its reputation, particularly in light of the focus on health and wellness?

3 Responses to “Corporate reputation management: Nestle”

  1. Caroline Wilson 09/11/2009 at 2:14 pm #

    I predict a chunky discussion… Perhaps you can discuss how us old timers have struggled with the dilemma of the iconic Yorkshire-based Kit Kat joining the stable of nasty Nestle. To eat or not to eat?

  2. Paul Seaman 11/11/2009 at 10:21 am #

    Good post. I look forward to how this discussion develops. Nestle is one of the world’s great brands. It is a brand whose origins reach back to the 1800s.
    I’m certainly prepared to defend Nestle when it comes to baby formula milk. I fear it is the campaigners who are doing most harm in Africa on that issue (as for breast is best, impoverished under-nourished mothers have problems with breast feeding etc).

  3. Richard Bailey 11/11/2009 at 7:00 pm #

    Thank you for your comments.
    It’s also worth noting that I was contacted by Nestle in Switzerland and by their UK PR consultancy in follow up to this post – which I used as an example of active online reputation management.
    Unfortunately, as is often the way with teaching, our analysis of the case study was hurried and I don’t have more material to post. But I’ll be tracking developments and do tend to agree with Paul’s assessment.

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