SINGAPORE: Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, is looking to Asia as a key area of future growth, as it seeks to drive sales both during and after the downturn.

The Cincinnati-based firm has previously outlined an intention of adding one billion consumers to its customer base over the period to 2014, with Asia set to play an integral role in achieving this aim.

Sam Kim, its vice president of ASEAN and Asia development markets, stated that the maker of Tide and Pampers has considerable room for expansion going forward.

"With Asia leading the world out of recession, we have a unique opportunity right here in Southeast Asia," he said.

Kim's remit covers 37 countries, and while each of these nations provides a unique context for the corporation's brands, some broad similarities have also emerged.

"We do not look at ASEAN as one market. There is a lot of potential. The region has a huge, significantly affluent population. It is recovering fast and it is under-served," argued Kim.

"The media environments are different, the customer environments are different, with modern retail making big progress in parts of ASEAN and then, in other parts, smaller 'mom and pop' stores being the norm."

"Through all this, however, we also see similarities in consumer desires and needs, and that has been a big enabler in doing business in this part of the world."

More specifically, shoppers often display high levels of interest in, and attachment to, specific products, offering a range of advantages for manufacturers.

"That's great for us. They have exceptionally high standards for products, which gives us a lot of insight. They are fiercely loyal to their brands and they like to talk about this," said Kim.

As certain nations in Asia are also technologically-advanced, the world's biggest advertiser has been able to adapt its communications "in ways that are much more targeted to meet the needs of a consumer group."

Corporate social responsibility is another sector where P&G is heightening its focus, such as with Open Minds Malaysia, a programme supporting children with special needs, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.

"When we get the benefits from the consumer through the sales and profit they provide us with, we also have a responsibility to help society in any way we can with the resources that we have," Kim said.

"I can't say whether we have done enough or not. The important thing is that it's fundamental to what we do. The second thing is that, given the social and development stature of countries in the region, there is a lot of potential."

Data sourced from Media; additional content by Warc staff