Monday, May 14, 2012 Marketing Research Blog
Colgate-Palmolive Visit by Jenn Rooke

On Thursday April 5th, 15 of us went to Colgate-Palmolive's Guangzhou office to meet with Ram Raghavan, Marketing Director, and Sylvia Cai, Director of Consumer & Shopper Insights, as well as their Nielsen retail channel partner for an afternoon meeting.  

First, Ram provided a dynamic in-depth overview of Colgate's Chinese operations, competitive environment, product lines and integrated marketing strategies. We learned about which products had been developed specifically for the Chinese market, and about various global and local marketing campaigns. Sylvia then provided us with some great information on the country as a whole and its consumers, including macro trends and the different generations' core values. Lastly, their Nielsen counterpart presented several new retail formats emerging in China that are enabled by technology, challenges that exist with capturing retail sales data in China, and their e-commerce panel that recently launched in China to measure the significantly growing number of online purchases.

Among the many things we learned from the afternoon presentations and discussions, here are just a few:

  • Chinese consumers place high importance on maintaining inner harmony and health, which is important to consider when developing new products and marketing campaigns. 
  • Ensure you conduct thorough research to understand nuances in words and meanings when naming a new product, as oftentimes the direct translation of an English word has several meanings in Mandarin or Cantonese.
  • The importance of personal promoters in larger hypermarkets and grocery stores to maintain a strong  retail presence and educate the consumers.
  • Oftentimes, Chinese consumers cannot articulate their true motivations behind thinking or acting a certain way. It's important to employ qualitative techniques that get at their unconscious and deeper thoughts.
  • One-on-one interviews and other in-person interviews are their most popular research methods, as Internet penetration isn't high enough yet.