At the 2019 Portada Event in Mexico City, we had an insightful Q&A session with Germán Villegas, Digital & E-Commerce Manager at Colgate Palmolive Mexico. He shares his know-how for driving growth at the consolidated mega-company, their E-Commerce numbers and investment plans, the future of segmentation strategies, and shares the name of online retailers with innovative tools for marketers.

Interview conducted by Alejandra Velazquez

There’s Always Room for Growth 

Nowadays, consumers look for relatable stories, not product descriptions. Keeping this in mind, we asked Germán Villegas how Colgate Palmolive drives growth for such basic necessities like toothpaste and soap. 

Germán Villegas

“We are touching real, daily consumers by leaving aside the old concepts of “perfect smile” with perfect-looking models. At the Portada Brand Star Committee session (one of the three units of the Portada Council System that met in Mexico City during Portada Mexico), we talked about the importance of reaching diverse audiences, cultures, and minorities to make them feel supported and listened. For example, we’re currently running a campaign that no longer talks about 12 hours of protection, fresh breath, or white teeth. It speaks about positivity. In the ad, a plus-sized woman says “when people say my curves are not attractive, I smile”. We want to transcend Coca-Cola-type messages like “you have to be happy”. We’re focusing on giving visibility to the most effaced members of society. That way, we are much more than just toothpaste. We are an optimistic story.”

Germán Villegas, Digital & E-Commerce Manager at Colgate Palmolive Mexico, will be one of the dozens of brand marketing innovators present at Portada Miami on June 4, 2020. If you are interested in participating in Portada Miami and/or in Portada’s networking and knowledge-sharing platform with brand marketers please contact us here.

We’re focusing on giving visibility to the most effaced members of society. That way, we are mucho more than just toothpaste. We are an optimistic story.

“Growth will happen organically and naturally in time. But beyond expecting things to fall into place, we are experimenting with micro trials now that we can. We are developing segmentation strategies with our clients, learning together about the industry’s ROI, and investing micro amounts. That way, we can learn where to invest more precisely. In other words, we pour money into trials little by little instead of betting millions blindly in the wrong place.”

TV vs. Digital Media: Time to Jump Ship? 

Colgate has always used traditional TV as its strongest media. What are your offline vs. online investment numbers, and has digital won over television? 

We’re closing 2019 with 30% on digital media and the rest is all offline. I believe television is still pretty strong, above 50%. However, we’re trying to invest a little less on TV in 2020. We’re not going straight to digital all the way, but we’re applying our trial and error strategies to see how far we can go, and perform a lot of focus groups to make drastic but informed decisions. 

TV already lost investment this year. I believe the past few years it used to close at 80%, and I think this year it went down to 60%. Next year it might close at 50%. In a few years, there will be very little content produced for TV. The U.S. is already making digital television, which will surely be very attractive to invest in because marketers can program different content for each spectator using digital technology. It might or might not contribute to our television portfolio, but it’s definitely a tendency. “

How do you choose what goes on TV? 

Right now, we’re looking for video production agencies. We’re trying to think digital before TV because we could produce custom-made pieces based on segments. We’ll make many digital pieces for specific targets, and from there we’ll cut a more generic TV ad. We used to make the TV ad and then upload it to the web, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s the other way around. You build a digital strategy based on segmentation. Those measurements help us choose what to show on the much more expensive TV airtime. “

Segmentation Strategies: The Right Message for the Right Ears 

segmentation strategiesTell us more about CP’s segmentation/targeting strategies. Is there room for evolution?

“Massive service providers like Facebook and Google sell us advanced ‘audiences’. These audiences aim to stop segmenting per demographics and switch to consumer attitudes. For instance, no longer targeting “men 30-45 y.o.” and such, but profiles based on passion points. We can segment per sports fans and athletes, music buffs, art followers, etc, and pinpoint a campaign for each. 

We pour money into trials little by little instead of betting millions blindly in the wrong place.

Facebook offers a very interesting product in its portfolio that lets you edit the text of your ad. That way we can sell the same toothbrush by talking about this weekend’s soccer highlights or the newest song from a popular artist. We can write copy as necessary to make it more clickable to the individual seeing it. That’s a great tool. 

A good challenge for future evolution is doing regional segmentation. Since marketing is too separated from the media department, it’s an opportunity for the industry. The brand manager could tell us if sales are decreasing in the south, so we could do our research and see why. That way we could develop specific solutions for localized issues. But right now, we still make advertising for the entire country. “

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