A look at the digital tech holding Fonterra’s brand together across the world

Fonterra’s ‘From here to Everywhere‘ campaign provides a reminder that consumers as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka all place Fonterra products into their shopping carts on a daily basis.

What the advertising does not hint at, however, is the massive logistical task in keeping the brand digitally cohesive across all those markets.

Raf Rasile, Fonterra’s general manager of digital innovations and solutions, says that until recently the business operated the digital side independently in each market.   

“We had multiple different websites all over the world, all managed by different vendors and agencies,” he says.  

“If there was a case of needing to recall a product or if there was something that we wanted people to know about us, the first question would be: who’s hosting this website? Where is it managed?”

In practice, this led to slow internal processes and to the waste of a substantial number of working hours every year.

In response, Fonterra has, under the guidance of Rasile, undertaken a massive project of streamlining these processes and ensuring that the brands across the world remain as cohesive as possible.

Working with The Instillery, Rasile and his team have spearheaded the development of a centralised system that can be managed from anywhere in the world.

“We went through the process of developing a digital eco-system,” he says.  

“It’s a centralised content management system, a centralised CRM system, a centralised approach to data and a centralised tool for collaboration.”

On a small scale, this has changed the conversations that happen when a change needs to happen.

“The question isn’t who owns the website, but rather what I want to say to them,” Rasile says.

This might seem a small semantic shift, but it’s far removed from the previous approach that demanded a long chain of enquiry before the problem could even be solved.

Rasile wouldn’t put a dollar value to the amount the change is set to save Fonterra in a year, but he did say it’s led to a huge reduction in operating costs and that it also recently won the Digital Transformer category in the Australian division of IDC 2017 DX Awards.

Additionally, the new system also allows for greater cohesiveness across all the websites in different markets.   

“All of those websites will leverage common components, so that you’re not reinventing the wheel every time,” he says.  

“You now also have a single way of working for everyone across the business regardless of whether they’re here or in Malaysia or in Chile.”

In recent years, Fonterra has invested significantly in building its masterbrands both here and in international markets through the launch of global brand platforms via Colenso BBDO.  

Rasile says the release of the new digital eco-system will ensure global cohesiveness, while simultaneously giving local teams enough flexibility to include elements unique to their markets on the websites.

“That local knowledge is invaluable only because we have so many nuances around brands depending on which market they’re in.”

Another major advantage, which is also increasingly serving as a major motivation for organisations to take their tech in-house, is that that the new system gives Fonterra control of the IP, regardless of who it works with across the world.

Agency partners, server providers and staff might come and go, but the tech remains firmly in the hands of the co-operative.

“It’s not about taking work away from the agencies and partners that we work with, but more about having ownership of the process.”

As a corollary of owning the process, it also puts the onus on the team at Fonterra to ensure the technology doesn’t become obsolescent—and this is something Rasile is acutely aware of.       

“It’s no longer a single investment to achieve a website that’s live,” he says.  

“You’ve got to take a continual, agile approach that looks at data and numbers to make sure you’re gleaning insights and improving the customer experience across your whole portfolio.” 

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