China demands unique solutions, says P&G

25 March 2010

SHANGHAI: Advertisers need to find unique solutions in order to achieve success in China, according to Daniela Riccardi, head of Procter's & Gamble's operations in the country.

Speaking at the Asian Marketing Effectiveness Festival in Shanghai, Riccardi, P&G's out-going president for Greater China, said the country presents a range of obstacles and opportunities.

"China is big enough that everyone can make business and money there, but very few can make a difference," she argued.

At present, Greater China is Procter & Gamble's second-largest market by volume sales, and it is also in the top five in terms of value sales.

As previously reported, the company is seeking to add one billion people to its global customer base by 2015, with the world's most populous nation set to play a key role in achieving this aim.

More specifically, the owner of Tide and Pampers is seeking to drive up average sales per head in China from $3 (€2.24; £2.01) a year at present to something approaching the level of $20 currently recorded in Mexico.

According to Riccardi, the rapid development of the trading environment and popular preferences in the Asian state mean business models and approaches utilised elsewhere are often of little relevance.

"We have to reset the timeframe in China. Here the future is 'today is tomorrow', whereas in the West it's three to five years," she suggested.

One reason for this trend is that the domestic retail environment is in a constant state of flux, which is particularly demanding for brand owners.

Consumer behaviour is also undergoing a profound transformation, with members of younger generations moving away from TV to the web, and shopping less often at supermarkets.

In response, the organisation has also sought to tailor many of its brands to meet the unique needs of its target audience.

Riccardi has worked for Procter & Gamble since 1985, covering spells in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as a stint in Latin America.

It was announced earlier this month that she would soon step down from her current role, to be replaced by Shannan Stevenson, who will move up from the position of vp, laundry, in Western Europe.

The US corporation's recent activities in China have included helping to build 30 schools, ten of which will be based in areas that have suffered from natural disasters in the recent past.

It will also hold a board meeting in Singapore later this year, with several senior executives travelling on to areas such as China, India and Japan to assess the current state of its local operations.

Data sourced from Media (Asia); additional content by Warc staff