Ashwin Nathan leads the marketing & digital efforts for HEB, the largest grocery chain in Texas with over $20B in revenue and more than 120,000 employees. COVID-19 has impacted their marketing, operations and supply chain, and has forced them to innovate faster than ever before in order to serve their community safely today, and in the future.
On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:
11:49 The impact of company culture. “Being at HEB the last three years has been eye-opening in terms of watching a company connect its purpose to what it does every single day from a business standpoint. We exist so we can take care of our community, so that we can take care of our fellow Texans. We’re essentially a public service…It’s humbling to be a part of this with 100,000 other people who are just committed to serving Texas.” -AN
21:52 Marketing amidst COVID-19. “I think the most immediate thing is to pull a lot of marketing, go dark in a lot of instances. In the sense that the most important thing is to make sure that you are not putting messages out there that can make things worse. For example, when you have marketing for specific products, whether it’s ice cream or paper towels or certain brands in the store, all of that right now is irrelevant. Your job right now is to make sure you’re helping the company with whatever is necessary from a customer messaging standpoint to make sure they understand that we have the supplies, we just need time to put it up.” -AN
23:57 COVID-19’s lasting impact. “All of our screen time is up 50% – we’re on social more, we’re watching the news, we’re waiting for that 5:00pm press conference every night – I really do believe that those types of habits, as well as people’s comfort with e-commerce, delivery, and things like that – will have people venturing into that process that never had to do it before, never wanted to do it before. I think they’re going to become new members of that ecosystem. There’s a lot of habits that are going to stay long after this virus is over.” -KS
25:03 This is the time for content creators. “Overall there’s going to be companies that are born out of this crisis and channels that are discovered out of this crisis. For all the bad and all the struggle, there’s going to be some winners…this is THE time for great content creators. If you’re a content creator – a writer, videographer, photographer – this is your time to create the best content you’ve ever created. Because you have eyeballs – you have opportunity. There’s going to be people that gain awareness during this crisis that will maintain it afterwards.” -KS
29:33 Leadership lessons for the “new normal.” “For me, there are a couple of things in the ‘new normal’ that I really want to do. One, support local businesses as much as I can. That’s something that from a new normal standpoint, the new normal for those guys is a lot worse than folks like me who are in a different situation. All of us have to figure out how do we continue to support local entrepreneurs, local companies, local businesses, our community – I think that is going to be critical and hopefully that brings us together. From a business standpoint, it’s brought more clarity to me in terms of what are the things that are most important that I have to continue to do to drive success with my team and make sure that we operate as a team, and make sure that we are contributing to the growth of the business.” -AN
38:08 Kash’s One Big Thing. “This is the time for great content creators to step up. You’ve never had all this luxury to sit at home and create. We’ve all had day jobs we had to go to, we’ve had stuff to do. Even if you’re working from home you still have more time, no matter what someone tells you. This is when you should be writing, taking photos, making that video, starting that podcast, starting that blog. Whatever it is, now is the time. It’s not just because people want to consume it, it’s because this is when you can refine it and focus on it. If you’re great at it, figure out which channel is best for you and go all in on that one because then that will be a platform for you long after this is over.” -KS