”Future unit’s” director Teija Nesterinen relies on data

In her career at Kesko, Marketing Director Teija Nesterinen has progressed from a summer job all the way to the box seat from which to witness the digital revolution in food retailing. Headed by her, the new K-ruokamediat unit develops Kesko Food’s customer experience based on data and with a multi-channel approach.

- At the beginning of 2015, a new kind of opportunity opened up for me: an option either to develop and combine the K-citymarket chain’s marketing or to head the K-ruokamediat unit. Later on, I’ve decided to call my choice a future unit, because we do everything digitally as a rule, with the focus on the customer and making use of data.

Modern customers are enlightened and very open to new forms of marketing. For example, if we ask for their opinion, we have to react and reward them for their answers by acting accordingly. What is the most interesting aspect in the data - and of this time - is that customers expect from us a new type of service, very personal and interactive. We are one of the leading operators in the trading sector in the collection of data and, in some respects, also forerunners in exploiting the data. But we still have much to learn and develop.

Before this post, I was responsible for the marketing of K-citymarket stores for seven years. The move from hypermarket marketing to a so-called support unit seemed somewhat exceptional for a person like me who is used to intensive monitoring of figures. After a moment’s consideration, I understood how strong impact a customer experience has on the future improvement of all results and how Kesko is gradually changing into a completely new kind of operator, more open and dialogue-oriented.

I want to be involved in this process to the full and believe I have something to contribute thanks to my previous experience. And courageous creativity, so typical of me, is also a plus. 

Fruitful career path via abroad

- I came to Kesko as a summer employee in 1986. I had studied material functions, that is, logistics, forwarding, packaging technology and purchasing. At first, I was responsible for clothes forwarding and, after some time, moved to purchasing imported frozen foods, meat, bread and wines for institutional customers in Kesko subsidiary that is currently Kespro.

The director of the fruit and vegetables department occasionally asked me if I was interested in an assignment abroad. After having gained two or three years of experience in buying for institutional kitchens, I left for Sweden to do fruit and vegetable business for Viking Fruit, which was a purchasing company jointly owned by Kesko and some Nordic partners.

At Viking Fruit, I was responsible for purchasing citrus fruit to Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark for three years, mainly from Spain, Morocco and United States. During the high season, I sometimes spent long periods in Spain. At the time, trading was made with handsets on both ears – one for buying and one for selling.

I also had the chance to participate in the building of the K-ruoka food store chain’s opening and marketing in Russia in 2011. I was really exciting to create a completely new brand and customer promise, and think over how the market works there.

In Russia, you have to understand the local culture and customers’ caution in personal data and privacy issues. The market is very different from Finland and the same marketing channels are not working there. Store openings also were a kind of surprise. In Finland, customers arrive to the store at the time the opening is due to take place, but in Russia people came to queue in the previous evening, and the line extended around the store.

A big house offers endless opportunities

- When I come back to Finland from Sweden in the 1990s, I brought the Rico brand with me and continued building it in Kesko Food’s fruit and vegetables department. The own brand and Kesko Food’s Product Research played a significant role in quality improvement and standardising to a good, reliable level.  When we had 100 percent certainty of the quality, Rico was merged into the Pirkka range.

I’ve been a Pirkka fan from the early stages of my career.  In addition to targeted, electronic marketing, my team has for over a year also had responsibility for the marketing of the Pirkka brand in its portfolio, as well as various campaigns in the area of responsibility marketing. This year, these include Blue and White Footprint, the Red Nose Day cooperation and the campaign related to the cooperation with the Finnish Basketball Association.

I’ve always thought that Kesko is an endless provider of opportunities. For those who come here, the choice of career paths is wide. And, to a very large extent, it depends on you where you end up. When starting as a summer employee, I didn’t perhaps imagine I would still be here. Now I’m pleased to see how Kesko encourages and supports the young people who join the company and are starting their careers.

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