An expert in multiple areas of marketing, Tomi Wirtanen has been working for Paulig for a year. He originally joined the company to direct marketing operations for the coffee business. In June, he was appointed as Director, Global Brands & Portfolio. “Cold, data-based marketing has become too dominant: people do not make decisions based on ones and zeroes. Emotional appeal is a huge opportunity for Paulig’s brands,” says Wirtanen. 

How would you sum up your role at Paulig?

“My job is to grow and develop our brands and products into success stories that do even better in large markets. I work as part of a centralised matrix unit that serves all the regions we do business in.

In addition to coffee, Paulig Group’s brands and portfolios also include various cold drinks as well as Santa Maria, the leading seasonings brand in the Nordic countries with its spices and World Foods products, Risenta, which offers healthy and natural foodstuffs, and Gold&Green Foods, which is known for its Pulled Oats. Our range also includes the out of home portfolio and concepts for drinks.”

Paulig’s product range includes both iconic and innovative products. How should these two Is be combined in Paulig’s marketing in the future?

“I would also like to add a third I, which stands for inspiration. We must be able to make customers feel inspired by the brand and the product. Does the brand or product stand out from the competition? Does it inspire people? The value of all products is measured according to these two questions. Iconic brands uphold tradition, but they must also be able to move with the times.”

What will be the basis for Paulig’s future success?

“When it comes to food and drink, the most important thing is how the products taste. That is the starting point for everything.

We invest heavily in innovation. We have an intimate understanding of what consumers’ everyday lives are like and take into account both current and future trends, such as sustainability, the ease of use made necessary by a hectic lifestyle and the opportunities offered by new technology.”

What international trends do you see right now? How about Finnish trends?

“You only need to take a look around a Finnish grocery store to realise that Finns love barbecue and Tex Mex food. Food trends here tend to follow different cycles compared to the rest of the world. For example, the trend for Asian food is stronger elsewhere in Europe. However, sustainability is an international trend that is also very present in Finnish food culture. The vegetarian diet as well as various vegan options are a growing trend in Finland and around the world.”

What kind of leader are you?

“I am someone who finds inspiration easily. I believe that emotions beat facts 6–0. Or at least 6–1. In today’s business and marketing, a huge amount of attention is given to retargeting, data and optimisation. Digitalisation is naturally a huge transformation and opportunity in our society, but people themselves have not changed that much — we have not turned into homo ratios that make decisions based on ones and zeroes. I believe that appealing to people’s emotions is still a huge opportunity for brands. In fact, I would go as far as to say that, in a sense, we all work in the entertainment industry.”

“Of course, data serves a valuable role in marketing, but a more even balance should be found between emotions and data. Emotions, storytelling and entertainment value will make all the difference. The cold, fact-based approach has become too dominant in marketing.”

How will technological advancement affect the food industry in the future?

“In many ways. For example, blockchain technology can be used to increase the traceability of raw materials and products: How does the supply chain work? How sustainable are the operations? To what extent do the operations place a strain on the environment? Blockchain technology helps companies improve the sustainability of their operations: the technology can be used to survey the supply chain all the way from the field to the table and explain it consumers and customers.”

In what ways are Paulig’s products part of your own life?

“At the moment, Risenta’s wasabi nuts are my absolute favourite snack. They are incredibly good! I also enjoy Paulig’s city coffees: the Barcelona coffee in the orange package is very much to my taste. I have also discovered a great way to cook with Gold&Green’s Pulled Oats. I use them to make the most delicious lasagna in Southern Finland.”

Tomi Wirtanen

  • Job: Director, Global Brands & Portfolio, Paulig (Santa Maria, Paulig Coffee, Risenta, Gold&Green, Mode)
  • Career: Tomi Wirtanen has a great deal of experience in strategic brand management. Before joining Paulig, he worked as Marketing Director for Elisa and McDonald’s as well as in other roles.
  • Hobbies: basketball, golf and table tennis
  • Motto: “Emotions beat facts 6–0, or at least 6–1.”
  • Twitter: @tomiwirtanen