How Procter & Gamble’s Pampers brand is embracing the social side of e-commerce

How Procter & Gamble’s Pampers brand is embracing the social side of e-commerce

E-commerce has different stages of maturity in Asia where Pampers, one of Procter & Gamble’s biggest brands, is seeing the natural evolution towards online ordering of bigger packs. It provides the perfect destination for customers to browse products, utilise reviews and find deals - without having to struggle home from a store with a bulky purchase.

Antoine Tyan, Associated Brand Director, Head of Data, Digital Transformation and E-Commerce for Pampers APAC, sees huge diversity across the region. “You have countries such as the Philippines which have a low salience of e-commerce under 5%, and others over 80% like Korea where almost every sale of diapers happens online,” he reveals. “From a solution standpoint, we have to cater for all these different stages of maturity and of the retailers that we play with, so in a country with low salience, our focus will be mainly on commercial offers. In mature markets, we have an increased need for brand building, interactive e-content and social media marketing.”

Tyan maintains that e-commerce pages are now showrooms. Inspired by content in the food and beverage sector, Pampers is adopting a sensorial approach with more advanced imagery and video. “We look at the channel and find ways to stand out,” he adds. “The role of branding is often questioned because customers can instantly compare prices and access consumer reviews. However, it becomes even more critical to differentiate from other brands. This is where we step in creating exclusive events to delight our customers with a unique experience. For instance, we worked with Lazada (Southeast Asia’s number one online retailer) to develop an event around baby play by organising a virtual baby marathon that was a perfect fit for that e-commerce platform.”

Procter & Gamble boasts a massive range of household name brands but they can still operate autonomously to meet specific business challenges. “We also synergise our efforts,” adds Tyan. “Strategies happen at global, regional and local level – for the total corporation as well as for the brand. At a macro level we need to make sure we pull in the same direction. As a group, we share systems such as suppliers, technologies and platforms, along with centres of expertise like IT and multimedia which flow across brands.” Tyan believes the mindset of sharing and reapplying is also key and, in e-commerce, is something supported through bi-annual Asian summits to share learnings, applications and use cases.

Change management is a constant challenge for brands that want to excel in the digital space. Tyan believes it must be supported by top down leadership from experts in their field. “At a data focused organisation like ours, digital transformation can only happen if the strategy is clear for everyone and leaders can assess and quantify the added business value of investing in new programmes” he confirms. “Mindset can be the biggest cue. Even at a large company with many years’ experience and proven practices in place, sometimes you have to unlearn to relearn.”

Tyan notes the importance of departments partnering on projects and not simply working blinkered in silos. “Instead of starting with the technology or data solution, we address the business challenge with IT at the outset, to define what’s needed. Then you can have a conversation about what’s actually possible. This is where technology and data can be massive amplifiers and why I feel modern marketers have the responsibility to really own that conversation and become more tech savvy.”

The necessity of identifying methods that enhance the ability to meet the needs of the market is even more pressing for a brand with an extremely narrow audience. “Baby care is a unique category for many reasons,” explains Tyan. “Every three years your entire base renews so you need the right strategies to lead customers into the Pampers brand and retain them, all in a very short window.” It’s a very specific business challenge where there are 50 purchases over a customer lifespan that Pampers aims to win. Hence its technology choices are geared towards hyper-personalisation to communicate product offers with supporting content. “In some countries, we launched our own app to support and reward moms,” adds Tyan. “In others, we adapted to customer habits, opting for email automation or focusing on events days supported by social media.”

Harvesting data is the key to unlocking insights from this diverse range of marketing activity. Tyan reveals that the Pampers brand is experimenting with machine learning to further analyse the psychology of consumer behaviour and ultimately meet their needs. “We’re developing the ability to identify and analyse very targeted audiences that have a high propensity of engaging with or buying our product.” Achieving insights into what drives consumer behaviour has been integral to the success of Procter & Gamble’s brands for nearly 200 years. “It’s one thing to observe behaviours, but you need to understand the deeper consumer motives,” stresses Tyan, who is also excited about the possibilities for new forms of customer engagement fueled by personalisation. “We’re going beyond the value of a diaper, and really starting to impact moms' and babies’ lives and overall experience throughout their journeys together.”

Alleviating the impact on the planet is also a key goal for Pampers globally. “At Procter & Gamble we aspire to be a force for good and a force for growth. This was always the case for Pampers. We have a history of being socially responsible working with organisations like UNICEF to eliminate neonatal tetanus. We also work on other areas where we can make a big impact, including driving gender equality internally in the workplace and externally through our brand campaigns and advocacy efforts with partners like UN Women,” says Tyan. “We also want to make a positive impact on the planet. I’m really excited about something Pampers is leading globally. We’re piloting diaper recycling technology in Europe where we're collecting waste in a city like Amsterdam, not only for Pampers, but for all diapers and wipes.”

Across APAC, partners like AIMIA (allied with Microsoft and AWS) are key to growing the ecosystem to reach out to customers and personalise their experience with the brand. “As a loyalty program specialist, they have been a long-time partner of our rewards program, the Pampers Club, in charge of overall operations. The premise of the Club is to reward moms for their loyalty by offering them points for every purchase that they can redeem for catalog gifts. In Japan they are providing services from data management and analytics, to campaign and marketing automation,” confirms Tyan. “Across media we have strong partnerships with heavy hitters like Google and Facebook, and select partners based on their capabilities in a given country. For example, we work with Dentsu in Japan on advanced programmatic solutions.”

Pampers also employs the digital marketing talents of yellowHEAD a performance marketing agency that is a global partner for the brand. “Our work together is primarily to optimise our cost of acquisition to our CRM, notably through fast iteration cycles,” adds Tyan.

Tyan stresses that e-commerce is “growing at the speed of light”, supercharged by the linkage from social media. “Consumers are very receptive to key influencers. The link is becoming more prevalent as we move towards social commerce. Customisation is another key trend, we all want something that is relevant to us as consumers and ignore generic messages. This leads e-commerce to personalise platforms at a user level, which is a challenge,” he says. “As a brand trying to excel in search, and optimise its virtual shelf, a personalised world means that you don't have as much control over customer experience. How do you win in such a fast-changing environment? There’s a clear expectation from our customers. We have to step up, adapt to that and to the new technologies our retailer partners are putting in place.”

E-commerce as a channel is embracing disruption and becoming a form of entertainment in its own right. “The malls in Asia are like playgrounds for shoppers, buying becomes an activity in itself, as a family weekend outing. Online malls are popularizing that behavior anytime, anywhere’” notes Tyan of the way the shopping experience online is transforming consumer habits. “It’s exciting for Pampers to look at how we continue to innovate, insert ourselves into that environment and provide value.”

Antoine Tyan