As a child growing up in his parents’ dairy, Bejen Patel was always drawn to enhancing the shopper experience, which naturally led him to pursue a career in marketing. His experience gained from assisting with his family’s business, coupled with his passion for business studies, played a pivotal role in securing his place as a finalist for the 2023 Up-&-Coming Marketer at the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
How or why did you get into marketing – what sparked your interest?
I was brought up in a dairy that my parents owned, I always tried to improve the shopper experience instore, made suggestions with ranging decisions and was keen to make fun displays.
Throughout high school I always was the marketer in my business studies classes and then at university I knew that marketing was something I really wanted to do.
Briefly, give details of your marketing career to this point.
After having first-hand experience in the field sales team for a year at Nestlé, I moved into the Coffee team at Nestlé as an Assistant Brand Manager. I had the opportunity to experience working with a brand partnership with The Bachelor/Bachelorette with Starbucks at Home.
I oversaw the successful go to market plan for a brand new product range to the New Zealand market, Nescafe Farmers Origins, got to lead shopper instore marketing campaigns with our major customers, build brand love and create excitement with consumers. After a year I moved into the Confectionery team and got to really own the instore launch of KitKat Biscoff!
I’ve also worked across Nestlé categories on a Nestlé x Countdown online takeover, as well as being a key part of launching Nestlé’s products into Costco.
What do you love about marketing? Is there a specific type of marketing you particularly enjoy, or specialise in, and why?
I really love the difference that I can make in products that Kiwis know and love. It is also highly rewarding seeing the work that I do come to life, whether it is a new product launch, a bus back ad or a display tower instore.
I definitely love brand marketing as it allows me to leverage my strengths in my creative and strategic thinking skills, to collaborate with our agency partners to bring fun projects to life!
Is there a specific project you’ve worked on that stands out for you?
Working on the launch of KitKat Biscoff Chunky in stores was a huge highlight for me. I got to manage the sell in, internal launch & instore activation strategy, where we created huge instore theatre in both grocery and petrol channels, with large displays to drive awareness and trial.
We had such great results with over 200% above forecast sales, where it became one of KITKAT’s biggest bar launches ever!
What are some of the biggest challenges you as a young marketer face in your role?
Being new has its challenges with having less experience, so it can be daunting making decisions and developing effective strategies. But you have to remember you provide a fresh insight with fresh ideas, and the more you work on new projects and initiatives, the better your strategies will become through experience. Use the challenge to your advantage and you’ll thank yourself in the future.
What advice would you give to other young marketers newish to the industry?
Be curious and build relationships! Don’t be scared to not know the answer, ask questions and connect with your colleagues.
Marketing is such a core to any business, as you connect with stakeholders across the business from sales to finance, so it’s important to have great relationships. I lead the Nestlé NZ social committee, which has given me a great opportunity to interact with people all over the business.
Another thing which is sometimes cliché is to say yes to everything! Be brave and proactive, perceive your obstacles and challenges as opportunities to grow as a professional, to learn and to build connections inside and outside the industry and your organisation. You will learn so much being thrown in the deep end!
Where do you see your career headed in the next 5-10 years?
I want to continue growing in marketing, and work my way up into more senior roles, Head of Marketing someday! I am very passionate about people, and want to lead a team, to coach and inspire future marketers.