From Taste Sensations to Food with a Purpose — carving Fazer’s new growth logic

Fazer and Marketing Clinic have a long history of co-operation. Fazer was Marketing Clinic’s very first customer, and the co-operation has continued ever since. As a part of the redefinition and creation of Fazer’s strategy, work was done together with the Marketing Clinic team in order to describe Fazer’s journey. A transformational strategy was crafted in the autumn of 2016.

The outcome of this work was a definition of Fazer’s larger purpose, its future competitive advantages and the growth logic, as well as a crystallization of the company’s heritage. Fazer’s redefined strategy is deeply rooted in strong consumer trends of e.g. health and wellbeing and plant based diets. During 2017, concrete outcomes of the redefined strategy are e.g. the newly established business, Fazer Lifestyle Foods as well as the acquisition of the smoothie company Froosh.

Identifying new sources of growth

For generations, Fazer has been a successful company with a strong heritage in innovation, iconic brands and close consumer dialogue. Yet, finding growth within the conventional food market had become harder due to market saturation, and at the end of 2016, Fazer decided to redefine its strategy for 2022.

The transformational strategy work concretized the growth areas with the most potential for Fazer. It enabled the company to find focus and to define its position in the food market.

“The food landscape is rapidly changing and in today’s global competitive environment, to be successful, companies need to find ways to stay relevant in consumers’ lives. Only by being meaningful, can a company grow. During the past 40 years, Fazer had been focusing on its core businesses, and now, it was time to identify and pursue new areas of growth”, Christoph Vitzthum, Fazer Group President and CEO explains.

The transformational strategy work concretized the growth areas with the most potential for Fazer. It enabled the company to find focus and to define its position in the food market.

“Food is the largest global industry. The transformational strategy enabled Fazer to identify its future focus areas and future competitive advantages to ensure strong future growth. Fazer has a strong ambition to create value for its stakeholders and to double the value of the company, which requires understanding where to play and what to focus on”, Vitzthum continues.

A license to think beyond “taste sensations”

Fazer is strongly established in Finland with operations also in Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltic countries as well as some export markets, e.g. the US. For Fazer, future geographical growth will focus on Northern Europe. In the strategy work, identified competitive advantages and new sources of growth were crystallized as Fazer’s growth logic, or mission, “Food with a purpose”.

“Fazer had achieved great results through its previous mission of creating ’Taste sensations’. The mission had become a strong part of the Fazer DNA. Even though Fazer will continue to create taste sensations in the future, this mission was in a way already reached and had become static. We needed something more dynamic, something bolder, a growth logic that could help us reach growth targets and expand our business. ’Food with a purpose’ gave us a license to think beyond taste sensations to further unleash innovation. We needed to carve out a growth strategy that would combine our traditional strengths with new business and fresh thinking”, Vitzthum says.

Image: "Fazer, as a company, has both the potential and the obligation to think ahead and show the path forward", says Christoph Vitzthum, Fazer Group President and CEO
“Fazer, as a company, has both the potential and the obligation to think ahead and show the path forward”, says Christoph Vitzthum, Fazer Group President and CEO

Fazer’s new growth logic, “Food with a purpose” synthesizes the consumer trends of sustainable and ethical consumption, holistic wellbeing as well as meaningful experiences and self-expression. “Food with a purpose” is also focused on storytelling and the consumption moments – taking the food experiences beyond the actual product.

“Recent celebration of Finland’s 100th year of independence demonstrated the emotional bond consumers have with Fazer. There is an immense number of anecdotes, especially from Finnish expats, for whom the Fazerin Sininen chocolate is a symbol of Finland. In a world where consumers want to express their individuality, these products are very important. Fazer, as a company, has both the potential and the obligation to think ahead and show the path forward. We don’t want to be reactive followers”, Vitzthum explains.

The mission of growing through “Food with a purpose” was launched internally and was successfully accepted by the 15 000 Fazer employees as well as external stakeholders.

“It is amazing how the new mission works on so many levels and how it has been taken live within the company. The organization wants to be associated with it. Meanwhile, the customers, i.e. retailers and consumers, see this growth logic as extremely interesting and innovative. Consumers associate themselves with the mission and see Fazer as a relevant brand. This new mission modernizes the whole company – from taste sensations to food with a purpose, from a conservative company to a dynamic company. This change was visible before any strategic development had been communicated. I state, that this mission in combination with the strategy execution, enables Fazer to think and act more boldly as a company, and to execute the strategy more effectively”, Vitzthum says.

Growth by executing the transformational strategy

After finishing the work at the end of 2016, the transformational strategy has led to concrete outcomes in Fazer’s pursuit of growth. “The most concrete outcome is the newly established Fazer Lifestyle Foods, which will focus on offering plant based foods for consumers. In our strategy work, the vegetarian diet was identified as a strong growth opportunity, and a permanent trend, not a fade, both from sustainability and health perspectives”, Vitzthum says.

“If it wasn’t for the ’Food with a purpose’ mission, Fazer Cricket Bread would probably have been a too bold of an initiative to launch under Fazer Bakery” – Christoph Vitzthum, Fazer Group President and CEO

The growth logic, “Food with a purpose”, has broken down internal thought barriers, giving the company the license to consider food in a new, more functional context. “For example, in the Bakery portfolio, the highly successful Fazer Juuresleipä, would probably have remained a niche product without our revised strategy. Now, this functional bread, as a forerunner in our bread portfolio, has accelerated the innovation of similar products”, Vitzthum says.

Another example of progressive product development is the newly launched Fazer Cricket Bread. Vitzthum continues, “If it wasn’t for the ’Food with a purpose’ mission, Fazer Cricket Bread would probably have been a too bold of an initiative to launch under Fazer Bakery”.

Image: Catharina Stackelberg, Group CEO at Marketing Clinic Partners and Christoph Vitzthum, Fazer Group President and CEO
Catharina Stackelberg, Group CEO at Marketing Clinic Partners and Christoph Vitzthum, Fazer Group President and CEO

Further, the strategy work has guided M&As. “In the autumn of 2017, Fazer acquired the 100% fruit company Froosh, an acquisition strongly aligned with the new strategy. The transformational strategy has further accelerated our new product development as well as our ambition to decrease our use of additives”, Vitzthum states.

The new strategy for 2022 was launched in 2017. In the following years, Fazer will continue the execution of the strategy and to grow through “Food with a purpose”. Marketing Clinic is proud to have been chosen as a strategic advisor for Fazer.

“Fazer is a family company with a heritage of long-lasting partner relationships. We build partnerships that are based on trust. Marketing Clinic has successfully developed its offering according to the changing market and customer needs. It is a dynamic company that is fearlessly developing its offering to respond to customer needs. In today’s world, companies most often need specialized advice and less general advice. Marketing Clinic has successfully captured and contained its core competency while expanding into new areas as forerunners in e.g. digitalization”, Vitzthum states.


Fazer's new growth logic – Marketing Clinic's core team on the project: Erika Kavén, Consultant; Catharina Stackelberg, Group CEO, Marketing Clinic Partners; Mika Rytkönen, Managing Director, Marketing Clinic Finland; Heli Hytönen, Manager; Charlotta Välimäki, Senior Associate. Missing from the image: Joakim Köhler, Manager
Marketing Clinic’s core team on the project: Erika Kavén, Consultant; Catharina Stackelberg, Group CEO, Marketing Clinic Partners; Mika Rytkönen, Managing Director, Marketing Clinic Finland; Heli Hytönen, Manager and Charlotta Välimäki, Senior Associate. Missing from the image: Joakim Köhler, Manager
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Marketing Clinic is the leading Nordic consultancy accelerating commercial success. We help people and businesses focus on the right things at the right time, enabling them to leave a meaningful mark on many levels. By engaging our customers’ top management in reinventing growth we create strong strategies that get implemented. Our group companies Okimo Clinic and P+SBD drive our clients’ digital transformation within marketing, sales and communication.

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