P&G’s next marketing frontier: “la tiendita”

tiendita-de-don-pepe.jpg

Procter & Gamble has a big problem in Mexico: poor people and their insistence on buying things in small packets and in little tienditas –those small stores that refuse to disappear despite Wal-Mart’s best efforts.

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal tells us the story of Martina Perez, who makes 120 pesos a day ($11) sewing by hand, and who instead of buying a full-size bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo, settles for a 0.34 ounce single-use packet which cost about 19 cents. (What is it with poor people and their shopping habits?)

But worry no more. According to the article, P&G has an army of marketing experts and researches who have spent the last 6 years working on how to deal with the popularity of over 600,000 tienditas, or as P&G likes to refer to them: “high-frequency stores.”

The result is a series of amusing marketing techniques that the consumer products giant is employing to stay ahead of the curve and convert elusive store owners:

– Lobbying for better shelf space: company personnel regularly visit the tienditas and offer to tidy the shelves

– The launch of specialized business magazine Tu negocio (Your business) targeting store owners (will they also teach them how to read? I wonder)

– Offer them management tips, such as how to calculate their profit margins

– Employ “reverse engineering” techniques: rather than create an item and then assign a price to it, P&G first consumers what consumers can afford and my personal favorite:

– Populate the ceilings: following a technique that P&G says has been a tremendous success in Asia, the idea is to have the most hanging products from the ceilings. Dangling items, “research shows” can catch shoppers attention more than products sitting on the shelves. “The ceiling is still a virgin location,” said a P&G executive.

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