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Procter & Gamble: Pampers in China.

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Company Case

Procter & Gamble: Pampers in China

More than a decade ago, when Procter & Gamble (P&G) launched Pampers in China, its challenge was not to convince parents that they were superior to another brand of disposable diapers. Its challenge was to convince them that they needed diapers. The cultural norm then was for babies to wear cloth diapers布尿布, if at all. In China, toilet training begins as early as six months. Children wear kaidangku (開襠褲) - pants with an opening that allow children to squat and relieve themselves.

Initially, P&G did not understand the China market. It wrongly assumed that Chinese parents would buy its diapers if they were cheap enough. Hence, it introduced a lower-quality product. The initial diapers felt plasticky, not soft. It took a while before P&G realized that softness is as important to mothers in developing markets as it is in developed markets. It then revamped its diapers, making them softer with a less plastic feel, and increased the absorption capability. Each diaper was sold at 10 cents, less than half the cost of a Pampers diaper in the U.S.

In addition to the revamped version, how did P&G overcome the cultural barrier of having mainland babies wear diapers? P&G conducted two exhaustive studies involving 6,800 home visits and more than 1,000 babies in eight Chinese cities. Results revealed that compared to cloth diapers, babies who slept in Pampers disposable diapers fell asleep faster and slept longer. By this time, P&G understood that Chinese parents were obsessed with academic achievement. P&G used this understanding to its advantage by linking how extra sleep improved cognitive development.

The scientific results were used to drive P&G's "Golden Sleep" campaign. It included mass carnivals and in-store campaigns in China's urban areas. A viral campaign on the Pampers Chinese Web site asked parents to upload pictures of their sleeping babies to reinforce the campaign message of a good sleep. Some 200,000 photos were received. P&G used them to create a 660-square-meter photomontage at a retail store in Shanghai. The campaign also featured scientific findings such as "Baby Sleeps with 50% Less Disruption" and "Baby Falls Asleep 30% Faster." The campaign has been lauded as one that broke through the clutter without

appearing paternalistic. The scientific backing and the idea that Pampers can help give children an edge distinguished Pampers from its competition.

P&G also invested in research and development to understand the China market better. It has pumped in 1 billion yuan over a 10-year period in R&D, assembly lines, and human resources. Today, Pampers is the top selling diaper brand in China. It has expanded from major cities to include more second- and third-tier cities as living standards improve. The product range has also expanded to cater to more diverse customer needs.



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