Nestle Deals With Public Concerns Using Effective Social Media Engagement

jmelich    October 24, 2014

Organization name: Nestle

Industry: Multinational food and beverage company

Contacts: Paul Bulcke, Peter Brabeck Letmathe


Description how social media is used in business performance:

Nestle is a Swiss multinational food and beverage company headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland.  It is the largest retail food company in the world measured by revenues.  Nestle product include baby food, bottled water, breakfast  cereals, coffee, teas, confectionary, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks.  Nestle brands include, Nespresso, Nescafe, KitKat, Smarty’s, Nesquick, Stouffers, Vittel and Maggi.  Nestle has 447 factories operating in 194 countries.   It is one of the major shareholders for L’Oreal.

Nestlé works within the secondary sector of industry, supplying and creating products to customers. It converts raw materials into finished goods for constomers to enjoy. Raw materials used in many of Nestlé’s products are sourced from the primary sector. For example, Nestlé brands such as KIT KAT, AERO® and SMARTIES contain cocoa sourced from cocoa farmers around the world.


For companies like Nestlé, which work with suppliers from a range of countries, many in poorer regions of the world, it is becoming more and more important to take a wider view of responsibilities. Nestlé believes for a company to be successful in the long term and create value for its shareholders, it must also create value for society.

nestle 1

Nestle has been using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and DAT to engage with customers and employees.  Nestle has been one of the leaders in food and beverage industry, which has strong focus on social media strategies.  The company has been using social media to drive marketing, innovation and leadership potential.  Nestle is focusing on transforming its operations going beyond marketing to drive costs and supply chain efficiencies .  The Nestle strategy is to redefine the benchmarks and effectiveness of social media strategy.

How Nestle deals with positive and negative comments on social media sites.

For two weeks activists have been using social media arguing over Nestles  purchases of palm oil for use in KitKat candy bars and other products.  Protestors posted a negative video on you tube saying Nestle is contributing to destruction of Indonesian rain forests, potentially exacerbating global warming and endangering orangutans.



“We like Greenpeace and others, abhor the destruction of the rain forests, and will not source from companies where there is verifiable evidence of environmental damage, “says Nes QuickNestle spokesperson Nina Backe.

“We possess one of the most sophisticated supply chains in the world – putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.”


Mar 19–Nestle Hi everyone – “We do care and will continue to pressure our suppliers to eliminate any sources of palm oil which are related to rainforest destruction. We have replaced the Indonesian company Sinar Mas as a supplier of palm oil for further shipments“. 

“This is a place where major corporations are very vulnerable” says Daniel Kessler press officer at Greenpeace.

For Nestle the trouble began March 17 when Greenpeace released a report on the company’s use of palm oil. On the report there was an altered version of KitKat logo with the name changed to killer.  When Nestle noticed it they reacted right away asking to take it off, but by than the damage was already done, thousands of protestors went on Facebook and Twitter sharing the videos across the web.  The postings continued with many encouraging boycotting Nestle products.nestle ice cream

Nestle has learned the difficult way that open engagement is critical when it comes to social media.  Nestle embraced a new media strategy based on open engagement through social media and developed a new framework using new insights gained from social media activities.  The insights guided Nestle through all its future  campaigns to help build the company’s reputation again.

Pete Blackshaw head of social media and advertising created DAT (Digital Acceleration Team) leadership training program for digital marketing projects at Nestle.  Pete Blackshaw explains the working of DAT ,”We divide their time in three different areas: community management, for some of our top global brands, like Kit Kat, Nescafe, Maggi Nestea and the like.  Hackathons team projects, almost like VC model, where we would make our capacity from digital Acceleration Team available to business units and functions who would compete for the DAT’s time.  That would focus on  really, really quick projects, things like mobile solutions in emerging markets.  We’ve done probably over 100 projects since we started the program.  The other piece is really intense training and thought leadership.  After eight months, they go back to their markets and either lead digital in those particular regions, or just work on traditional marketing but have those digital vitamins as back-up.” Pete Backshaw.

DAT works on three disciplines:

  • Listening
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring

It makes extensive use of real-time listening and data visualization to tap online conversations and interactions as soon as they happen.  The team monitors millions of posts each day on a wide range of topics and spends time listening when and where to engage to communicate with consumers. The center screens are set up to spot trouble, if there is a negative issue emerging it turns red and alerts the team to engage, so right away they will respond.


Through such effective social media engagement with the help of real-time data visualization Nestle climbed to twelfth spot in 2011 and went up to ninth spot in 2013 last year, and is the worlds most reputable food and beverage company according to the index of world’s most reputable companies.  Nestle continues to be most trusted by consumers, but most important of all Nestle is a company consumers can relate to due to Nestle outstanding social media strategies.


Lessons to Be learned

In order for supply chains to be successful brands have to engage with conversation and resolve issues with suppliers and buyers for supply chains to be successful.

Real time data visualization can go a long way to make sense of digital conversation to help brands to take the right measures at the right times.

It is important to use social media to listen , engage an inspire with consumers to earn trust from consumers.

Every successful business listens and responds  to the needs of consumers right away, which is important for gaining  trusting relationships, between consumers, buyers and suppliers, which is the key to any businesses reputation and successful future of the company.


Web References:

Nestle has been thriving as the leader of food and beverage used for supply chains and has developed the most sophisticated online methods when using social media

Nestle has taken a beating from social media sites.

Nestle has climbed to twelfth spot by using effective social media marketing methods using DAT.


If you have questions about the content of this article please contact the author.

Jeanette Melich, University of Waterloo email:


If you have any questions about the accuracy of this article please contact Peter Carr at the University of Waterloo.