The Buttock Strategy

“Baby Buttock Wipes” or “Tissue Pantat Bayi” in Bahasa, probably one of my most memorable, funny yet fruitful debate with my Japanese Boss. Putting “Pantat” a.k.a buttock in for Indonesia market its sounds off, but to convince him is not easy because it’s the core of our Strategy.

Yup, this midnight I kind a want to share about strategy, not because I’m an expert of it (and that is a disclaimer), but probably because we just finished our NF-6030 Strategic Capabilities course.

It was 9 years ago, in my early career as Brand Executive I faced to make my very first marketing plan. Its super weird at that time, not only because devising strategy is domain for CEO or at least Marketing director level (not a near-like fresh graduate like me) but also, I not get proper coaching or teaching about this because everyone busy with their own plan. The only thing I have is a small company marketing handbook with so many theories of strategy that I finished within a night. Well as predicted, it was not a Hollywood movie that end with smile and happy with one-night effort, the presentation didn’t go well, not even in the top three. But at least it was my “first love on first sight” to Brand Strategy.

However, I can’t put credibility for this article if I only told you the sad story. After the failed presentation, I able to get those not so-shiny gold medals 🙂 of best marketing plan three periods in a row, beat even Brand Manager level. And this article my friend, is the strategy behind it.

Theoretically, strategy should comprise of Mission statement, External & Internal Analysis, Strategizing, Executing and Evaluation. Let’s skip the Mission (not big fans of it) and look directly to External and Internal steps. Note that, “External” mentioned before “Internal” not just because its start with “E” vs “I” but due to its crucial to Identify first what Competitive edge that we should own before we look into our company capabilities. In a simple example, we cannot push consumers to like what we can produce, but we should provide what their like. make sense?

Let’s start from External analysis. Ideally, we can use frameworks such as Porter 5 Forces or PESTEL but let’s go the essence instead. Looking at set of rivalry, we are a new and small player with single digit market share and high-cost structure due to imported product, the top two players are multi nationals firm with long presence in the market for ages thus so difficult to face them head-to-head. But it doesn’t mean there is no opportunity. From industry point of view, Baby wipes category experienced double digit growth annually. But the unique thing is, the drive is not much on penetration (more people use) but instead the frequency (no of pcs used) which jumped almost double. The reason behind is the new usage for changing diaper on top of its traditional use to clean hand and mouth area. It requires more because baby buttock cleaning requires more sheet of wipes per use, and diaper must be changed 2-3 times in a day. This change of consumer behavior leads to change of attitude/perception. Due to the nature of buttock condition which more often get skin irritation compared with other part or baby body, we saw gradually increasing importance image of “Not cause skin irritation” when choosing baby wipes brand.

Internally we should assess our company resources and capabilities to find a match with external demand or acquire it if necessary. As no.1 brand diaper company, we somehow used to work around baby buttock issue. Not only we have proper human resources asset to do it, but also good tangible assets such as distribution network and dominant share of shelf. On top of that, we own valuable intangible asset which is the diaper Brand since it connotes gentle to baby.

Ok, now time to Strategize. The idea is to bring the fight to arena that we can win. Being a turtle, you have no chance of winning against the fast rabbit. Unless the race should be conducted in a lake! because rabbit is do not swim as good as turtle. The same analogy we put in the award-winning marketing plan with the purpose of bring the battle by created new segment of “Baby wipes for Buttock”. At that “lake”, we can win by positioning as the first, the only and the gentlest wipes for cleaning baby buttock. This is the main competitive edge that we should win as top of mind in Indonesian moms’ perception.

But strategy is commodity, the tough one is the next step which is Execution. The dirty work starts with devising main communication to be put in advertising material which includes a full day of naked buttock photo session (thanks god it’s a baby product). We also align and guide SPG to talk about it consistently to store visitors. Display wise, we did cross merchandising in diaper shelf to make the parent brand contiguous to its wipes and link it to SPG incentive structure so that it well executed at store floor. But the most challenging decision is how to put “Buttock” word in the pack itself as it is a dirty word for Indonesian. Initially my boss my Japanese supervisor keep insist to put the word despite we explained how much its rudeness level for locals, but with several FGD result finally we able to convince him to use “changing diaper wipes” instead.

Well, the final step is Evalution, to determine whether our strategy work or need to be revisited due to some wrong assumption or change in environment condition. On the wipes case, with a lot of prays and tears, the strategy was quite fruitful. We gradually increase the market share to double digit and claim second position in the category. And that my friend, a typical Hollywood happy ending story 🙂

But wait… it’s not really the end. Based on Netflix user data, good series should end with mystery :). Previously I mentioned about Final step, which a wrong term to use. Strategizing is a live and dynamic process. There is no such a “final” step, as the evaluation and iteration should continue to adjust the strategy to match any changes externally. In our case, several years later (I’m not there anymore) the market leader follows our positioning by launched their own “changing diaper wipes” and so does other player. On top of that, competitors introduce consistent promo of buy 2 get 1 and continue to commoditize the category, because once all the brand considered as irritation free, in the end of the day, it was just a sheet of wet paper that have low brand loyalty. This brings change to the basis of competition from perception to price, and as high cost imported product, the brand at the vulnerable side of it. If the category commoditized, then the edge should be on managing cost structure. This new competitive edge needs to be acquired to keep in the race. It will be interesting to follow what the company will do about it, but personally I believed with such strong culture of analytical they will figure it out awesomely.