Founded in 1837, the owner of familiar household brands such as Pampers diapers and Gillette razors lately has been adapting in China, P&G’s second-largest market, tuning its strategies to keep pace with shifting consumer tastes and behaviours.
Besides launching higher-end products to appeal to consumers with growing incomes, P&G, which entered the China market in 1988, has been expanding its e-commerce activities to drive sales growth in a country with an online population of 700 million people.
For P&G, the internet is more than just a direct sales channel to those 700 million, says Jasmine Xu, the company’s vice president for Greater China e-business and branding. Here’s how P&G is tapping these capabilities via Alibaba’s Tmall.com shopping marketplace to give its China strategy a digital-era upgrade:
1) Launching new products
P&G rolled out the Whisper Infinity sanitary napkin in China using Tmall, tracking its performance over the course of 18 months through sales data and consumer feedback generated on Tmall. This information helped fine tune how P&G positioned the product and its selling strategy for the market overall. Ultimately, what the company learned from online results prompted P&G to also begin distributing Infinity to offline stores. The data “gives us the confidence to expand innovation to more channels,” Xu said.
2) Brand building
P&G’s nine flagship stores on Tmall deliver numerous touch points for consumer interactions, Xu said, and “every interaction a consumer has online is a moment of branding.” P&G uses video, livestreaming, consumer-generated content, marketing campaigns and other forms of communication to enrich the ways it engages customers.
3) Customer engagement
On Tmall, P&G is able to create individualised storefronts in real time based on the consumer viewing that store, or an individual product, while they’re shopping. That means brands can put certain products in front of certain consumers based on their purchase history, age, gender, geographic location and more. As a result, “We do see our conversion rate, our effectiveness, is being proved behind this personalisation tool,” Xu said.
4) Market expansion
As Alibaba grows its geographic footprint inside and outside China, its brand partners can follow. P&G has already started talks with Southeast Asia e-commerce company Lazada Group, which Alibaba invested $1 billion into last April.
Within China, there is also still plenty of growth to be had, especially in the country’s rural areas. Alibaba has committed significant resources to growing its reach into rural areas and so it’s helping brands expand there as well.
The company is experimenting with numerous ideas, and the release of a C2B-developed product is on the horizon—perhaps just a few months away.