Q&A with Unitrade SVP-Marketing Eugene Go on Competing Against Multinationals

Q1: In the diaper business, you have overtaken P&G in terms of market share nationwide since 2012, how long did it take you to take the lead and what was the tipping point? Can you share the strategy (and phases if any) behind EQ?

ECG: It was a long process of adjusting to the needs of the market and to competition. There were months that we are number one then there were months that P&G was number one. It was a see saw battle but it was only in 2012 that we firmly attained and protected leadership. P&G’s investment spending was always a concern for us as well as it’s strong brand equity. However, in the course of the economy struggling to stay afloat, value became the name of the game. Good product at best value. EQ was priced just right and provided superior features to it’s consumers. This was it’s edge over the multinationals.

Q2: Competition Megasoft has tripled market shares from 2010-2014 (from 3.3% to nearly 10%), Feberline has also made a come back in diaper market shares since 2012.  What are the developments in the diaper industry? What do you think are consumers looking for?

ECG: The diaper market has not really changed much in terms of dynamics, it is the consumers and their circumstance that have changed. They are primarily looking for value and even low prices. Some to the extent of sacrificing quality but some realizes that in the long haul, buying an unreliable diaper eventually led to frequent diaper changes and worst, rashes for her baby which proves even more costly in the end.

Q3: Would you consider Megasoft as your biggest threat since they are a local player like you, and have been gaining market shares in both diaper and feminine protection markets? Why or why not?

ECG: Megasoft is a competitor and a threat. We treat all competitors as threats. We dont take anyone for granted for complacency is certainly an ingredient for failure. However, in terms of profile and portfolio, Megasoft is very similar to our company.

Q4: There are about two million new births in the Philippines every year. What have been effective strategies at the diaper point-of-entry (hospitals, midwives) versus focusing on the store level? In the past, P&G has been doing a lot of point-of-entry effort to have first mover advantage in showing superiority of their products.  What do you think works better?

ECG: The approach should be two pronged. First to catch baby trials and usage upon birth which will entail catching them in the hospitals, lying in clinics and local barangay birth places. Second should be at main stream – store level / media based initiatives. This is create and sustain demand while also inducing brand switching and trials.

Q5: P&G at one time launched a major price off campaign, how are you prepared if they will do this again to gain back the market?  What do you feel about price wars?

ECG: We don’t believe in price wars as there will always be products cheaper or lower priced than you. The key is to build brand equity and have a good product to ensure that consumer’s needs are met and to ensure that the consumer will trust the product and their quality. Price wars will just destroy the total market and in the end, everyone looses.

Q6: In the feminine protection market, J&J has retained leadership and you have been unable to do what you have done in the diaper market, why is this so?

ECG: I believe that we have been making critical milestones in recent years since we relaunched Charmee in 2004. Let us remember that J&J fempro brands are already category generics and have been there for generations. For Charmee to achieve what it has so far is already a great achievement on its own. We feel that our product quality is certainly at par with J&J and thus, it would only be a matter of time that consumers will realize that and switch to our brand. Further sampling will be done to induce trial and achieve higher brands conversion rate.

Q7: Unitrade is the dominant player in the incontinence care market, in a greying or aging market trend worldwide, what do you feel is your core sustainable advantage that can keep potential entrants at bay?

ECG: We constantly innovate our products to ensure that we always provide best value. Superior features at best value pricing. We also ensure that our extensive distribution depth is maintained

Q8: How do you know if your marketing strategy is the right one? What metrics do you follow?

ECG: For me, the true measure of an effective marketing strategy is the result it delivers. However, it is to be noted that one has to do his share of market research and homework to ensure that the market information is accurate and the trends is up to date.

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Josiah Go features the movers and shakers of the business world and writes about marketing, strategy, innovation, execution and entrepreneurship


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