Analytics, mobility drive Kimberly-Clark's APAC biz

Using analytics to gain sales insights and enabling its mobile workforce to stay productive on the move make up the main tech thrust for the personal and healthcare products manufacturer in the region.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Data analytics and mobility are helping personal and healthcare products manufacturer Kimberly-Clark enhance its business operations and processes in Asia.

Achal Agarwal, president of Asia-Pacific for Kimberly-Clark, said the regional office's main focus currently is to optimize its trade investments, digital marketing and e-commerce, and sales force automation. To aid in these efforts, the company is relying on data analytics and mobile technologies, he revealed.

Elaborating, Agarwal said trade investments refer to the amount Kimberly-Clark spends on its channel ecosystem such as distributors, hypermarts and supermarkets to generate sales via promotional activities. These activities could range from an ad display to in-store promotions to drive sales, he said.

Data analytics then play an important role to find out if these investments are producing results for the company. For instance, it tracks the sales performance of its Huggies brand of diapers during promotion and measures the results against its market projections. 

He admitted this crunching of data could be a fairly complex exercise given that it would have to combine data from hundreds of different outlets selling its products. Over time, the company hopes to create a predictive model that would allow it to know which types of promotion to are suitable for different locations or time drive sales of this product, he explained.

BYOD a worthwhile endeavor
The manufacturer also relies heavily on mobile technologies, given that many of its executives are out of the office most of the time and supporting their mobile devices to facilitate work processes is critical, Agarwal noted.

As such, Kimberly-Clark's IT policy allows for both corporate-issued and personal devices to co-exist. "We also allow employees to bring their own devices because we believe this enhances the employee's experience with work and promotes flexibility and keeps them engaged," he said.

Support for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative also enables flexible work arrangements, as workers would be as equipped at home or on the road as they are in the office, the executive stated.

Asked if the company is spending more money because of BYOD, Agarwal said the enhanced productivity compensates for the extra cost.

Learning from China
The executive is also keen to apply some of the lessons he learnt in China when he was head of Kimberly-Clark's North Asia operations to the wider Asia-Pacific market. Top of mind is leveraging e-commerce and online videos to drive sales, he noted.

According to Agarwal, China is a leading force in e-commerce for the company, and the diverse market space meant that it was able to adapt their sales models such as consumer-to-consumer or business-to-consumer according to customer demands. Through the transactions, the company accumulated data on consumer behavior which can then be analyzed for deeper customer engagement, he shared.

Online video, on the other hand, was an effective tool for its digital marketing efforts. Besides ad placements on videos, Kimberly-Clark also used viral video marketing projects to promote its products, he added.

One example of this was when it created a video recently spoofing a popular Chinese reality talent show to showcase its wet wipes. The goal of the video was to create awareness of its product and to educate locals on the importance of toilet hygiene.

"We got some fantastic results during the two-week period between Oct. 12 and Oct. 26. We had about 18.2 million impressions by paid media, over 350,000 views, 35,000 comments and it was the second-highest monthly trending video," Agarwal said.

"The plan is to establish an integrated system before purchase to track and monitor key performance indicators to ensure maximum returns on investment. China is clearly the lead market for us for online video marketing and to share best practices for the rest of Asia," he added.

By extension, social media is another important marketing tool Kimberly-Clark is using given that its products are promoted through word of mouth. He said social media marketing is a "very powerful" platform that it cannot afford to miss out on.

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