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395: What is Nespresso Brewing Up for Gen Z? With Jessica Padula, VP of Marketing and Interim VP of Sustainability

Jessica Padula graduated from Boston University and always knew she wanted to get into brand marketing. However, getting a foot in the door can be difficult, so she took the advertising route to get there. Jessica started her career at Grey Group in New York, where she worked with brands like Downy, Covergirl, and Pantene. By specializing in the emerging space of social media, she was able to move over to the client side in Colorado, first with WhiteWave Foods, and then with Famous Brands. Eventually, she returned to New York as the Integrated Marketing Manager with Swarovski, but soon realized she missed CPG and joined Nespresso as their Social Media Marketing Manager in 2016. In 2018, she was promoted to Director of Brand Communications, and in 2023, she was promoted again to Vice President of Marketing and Interim Vice President of Sustainability with over 7 years at Nespresso and a uniquely perfect combination of luxury, CPG, and F&B experience.

In this episode, Alan and Jessica discuss how a big move at a young age helped break her out of her shell, why “every ‘yes’ is a ‘no’ to something else”, how gamers are breaking stereotypes, and what mass amounts of data with increased fragmentation mean for marketing in general. They also talk about her path to becoming VP of Marketing, her views on leadership as someone relatively new to the space, how Nespresso’s product innovation and marketing strategy are influenced by the next generation of consumers, and the ways they are impacting the community as an at-home solution.

As many leaders come to find, the higher you climb up the ladder, the further you get away from the work. To stay grounded, Jessica bases her leadership approach on empathy. This requires vulnerability and the whole team feels psychological safety and a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging, as well as social justice, inclusivity, and sustainability, are all important factors for Gen Z consumers Nespresso is now considering as they reevaluate their product development, marketing strategies, and experiences. The way Gen Z is introduced to and consumes coffee is largely out of home, all about iced beverages, and concerned with aesthetics and community. Fundamentally, coffee plays an important role in the lives of Nespresso’s target consumers. It serves as a connection point, and that connection is part of why Jessica has stayed at the company so long. She is passionate about finding ways their brand can tap into that community experience with their at-home solutions through meaningful partnerships and an understanding of what is important to their consumers.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The importance of empathy-based leadership and psychological safety
  • What Gen Z cares about and how Nespresso is shifting to meet their needs
  • As an at-home solution, how can Nespresso tap into community connections?

Key Highlights: 

  • [02:00] One degree from George Clooney
  • [03:30] Started in social, now she’s here.
  • [06:30] Leadership based on empathy
  • [09:30] For Gen Z, it’s all about the iced coffee and social impact.
  • [12:30] The insights around their customer base driving product innovation
  • [15:45] Community connections as an at-home solution
  • [18:05] Working with the Ali Forney Center
  • [21:45] A big move at a young age changed everything.
  • [24:20] “Every ‘yes’ is a ‘no’ to something else.”
  • [25:20] The importance of data analytics and visualization
  • [28:30] What are the gamers all about?
  • [30:55] The threat of fragmentation in marketing

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