The Team Behind ‘Captain Morgan Sliced Apple’ Discuss the Importance of Innovation at Diageo

Hannah Rogers, Eleanor Morgan and Laura Barrett share their insights into Captain Morgan’s latest innovation. They discuss how vital teamwork is cross-functionally, how new product launches help Diageo to stay current and the pride they feel when a product they have helped create hits the shelves.

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Tell us about your role at Diageo and what’s the most exciting thing about it?

Hannah: I am a Senior Liquid Scientist working in Europe’s Innovation, Research and Development team. This means that I get to design and bring new products to life by creating delicious liquids that delight consumers. The most exciting thing about my role is being at the forefront of new liquid innovations, being able to influence and shape new drinks trends and behaviours by having the freedom to create new liquids for the future.

Eleanor: As the Senior Brand Manager for Captain Morgan, my role is to be the custodian for the brand, ensuring it is set up for future growth and success. I am responsible for driving and project managing the creation of the brand strategy and brand plans based on consumer and shopper insights to build brand equity. The variety of the role that comes with working closely with a cross-functional team really motivates me, getting to be involved in aspects from commercial to media, all helping to drive the development of our brand strategy.

Laura: When I worked on this project, I was in the role of Innovation Commercialisation Manager for Rum, Non-alcoholic and Baileys, my role was to set up the ambition and the scale for our pipeline of innovations within those areas. We define the commercial and executional plan that will lead to a successful launch for our consumers, customers and for Diageo.

Sliced Apple is the newest innovation from Captain Morgan – what was your role in this innovation?

Hannah: I was the liquid developer on this innovation, working to create that perfectly balanced apple profile that would delight European consumers, with the unmistakable delicious, spiced rum flavour of Captain Morgan’s.

Eleanor: Working closely with the innovation team, I helped to shape the product development and proposition to ensure we were launching a product that was truly desirable for our consumers in GB. Then, I created a fully integrated communications plan incorporating deep consumer understanding and brilliant creatives to drive awareness of the launch.

Laura: For our Captain Morgan’s Sliced Apple project, a big part of the plan was the creation and execution of a first to market opportunity for some customers and channels so we could add extra value to them as strategically important customers. This was a huge team effort and we’re really excited for what this can deliver, and for the market wide launch.

Tell us how this innovation came about? What it was like behind the scenes to get this to launch and into the hands of consumers?

Hannah: Having had such a successful launch in the US, the business saw a great opportunity to rollout the product in Europe, leading with Germany to continue growing a strong brand in a large rum market.

Eleanor: There are so many different elements of launching an innovation, from liquid concepts, to consumer research, packaging design, developing commercial targets, marketing plans, customer activation plans. I loved being able to oversee the entire development which was very exciting as it gives an insight into all areas of business, and how they all work together to bring a product to launch.

Laura: An Innovation Commercialisation Manager needs to work with stakeholders across the business daily and meet tight timelines to get all aspects of a launch ready for our live date. This includes working with Supply, Finance, Brand, Shopper, Category and Sales and Activation teams. You touch all areas of the business when you launch an innovation, so you get immense insight into all aspects of the Diageo business. You need to be super organised and be able to work at speed to meet deadlines.

What are the most exciting and challenging aspects of launching a new product innovation?

Hannah: Whilst it is exciting to launch a product that is going to delight consumers, the most challenging aspect is being bold and predicting what will successfully disrupt and change consumer behaviour.

Eleanor: Launching an innovation requires the support of a huge cross functional team to bring a product from concept to shelf. With so many products in the market and many brands internally, securing buy in from internal and external stakeholders can be challenging. However, it is one of the most exciting parts of the process. There is a real sense of pride when you finally see the physical product and plans coming together in the public domain and when we hear positive feedback from our consumers.

Laura: It really depends on the project! Working with ambiguity throughout the project can be challenging but we’re fortunate to have great support from our leadership and cross-functional departments, they help project teams to make informed decisions.

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