Christian Bauer – Brand management and consumer value creation in times of crisis

  • MU Consumer Call recap

By Florian Schmitz Benjamin Renk

Marketing is a lot like fishing! Christian Bauer shared his vision and success story on the 20th of February on the monthly Consumer Call.

He explained that in marketing, just like in fishing, the fish must like the bait and not the angler. Marketing is all about keeping a customer focus and a love for your target group. This can help you prevail in times of crisis.

Christian Bauer has studied Marketing, International Corporations and controlling at Justus Liebig University. He started his career at Unilever and worked on well-known brands such as Becel, Rama and Knorr. After fulfilling Marketing Director roles at Burger King, Christian stepped outside his comfort zone and took up the role as the Senior Director at WWE, the Netflix of wrestling. Afterwards, he returned to his marketing roots and joined Bonduelle as the Marketing Director of the DACH region. Christian is currently open to a new adventure.

Be creative in times of crisis

In the first part of his presentation, Christian focussed on the current market situation. It is no secret that our industry is facing challenging market conditions. Due to the political reality, covid and inflation, brand marketers will have to face some tough decisions. However, Christian specified that we have faced a similar situation already. In 2008 the financial crisis created a global shock. And as the saying goes: never waste a good crisis. So, in these trying times, creativity and focus can take flight. Deep knowledge and understanding of your consumer will really make a difference.

To illustrate his viewpoint, Christion zoomed in on the epic contest between Knorr and Maggi, two famous food brands we all know. More specifically, he elaborated on the gravy casus. Both brands have a similar approach and share a set of heavy users that tend to switch sides depending on the most attractive offer available.

But in 2008, Knorr faced a double-digit financial gap in a market in crisis. They needed a fast solution, and the solution was: to focus on value. It is a high-risk, high rewards strategy. In this case, Knorr already had an unpromoted advantage: more of the product for the same price. Placing it in the spotlight, in the middle of the packaging, seemed obvious. But when conducting research, it seemed to be the wrong answer. Consumer groups showed unease and tension. It was not a question of price sensitivity but about perceived ease of use. In their minds, Knorr was better quality but Maggi was easier to use. It should be noted that both products have the same process to prepare the sauce. Normally, marketing focuses on the point of difference but here, they needed to focus on the point of parity first: A Knorr sauce always gives a great result. Only then could they focus on the better value. This translated into an exciting commercial with a focus on ease of use and obvious packaging, demonstrating the easy process and the better value. The campaign gained significant market share for Knorr.


To conclude Christian shared his major learnings.

  • A crisis is a chance: they would have never worked on this unsexy segment unless they were forced to. A crisis can help you tap into new market potential.
  • A powerful insight is key: you need to figure out what people want, and it is not always what you think it is. You learn to abstract from your own needs. If you don’t you will fail.
  • Remember K.I.S.S.: once you figured out what your consumer group wants, remember to Keep It Simple and Stupid. Your campaign needs to suit the consumer's needs.

If you are interested in the MU Consumer Call and you want to use the opportunity to present your best practice case to a broader international audience, please reach out to your trusted MU consultant or directly to Florian Schmitz, Practice Lead MU Consumer Practice.