SHANGHAI: Procter and Gamble, one of the world's largest FMCG companies, is turning to virtual reality and smarter programmatic strategies as it continues a process of digital transformation.

Freda Xu, vice president/marketing at P&G China, shared how the firm "embraced technology, data and digital to transform its ways" at Haymarket's DMA China event in Shanghai recently.

She revealed that P&G has turned to virtual reality and neuroscience to better understand customers – a marked step away from the traditional ways of focus grouping new products. (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: Procter & Gamble drives transformation with virtual reality, smart programmatic and data innovation.)

"In the old days when we wanted to launch a new product, we had to work with our agency partner overnight to buy competitor products… and invite consumers to come and comment on our new package," Xu said.

"It took easily two or three weeks to get a new package tested and evaluated."

The new technology has allowed faster, more efficient consumer testing and at a much larger scale. "The VR technology allows us to test hundreds of different versions of designs," Xu explained.

She also cited the adoption of programmatic buying as one of the key steps in improving marketing communications, and believes this has transformed her role as a marketer.

The approach is driven by a shift from "buying media to buying audiences," she said. "All the decisions were made so fast… real-time… ensuring our media plan was much more effective and efficient," she added.

"As a marketer, my life was transformed from a slow and traditional approach to a big-database, high-technology approach. It provided so much room for imagination on how to do marketing."

Data sourced from Warc