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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

My beautiful Thai mirror - and why the the size of your bottom makes a difference

I have a beautiful mirror from Thailand which was given to me as thank you by the Thai Management Association quite a few years ago, when I made an after dinner speech.

At the dinner I sat next to the boss of Unilever in Thailand. Their great rivals are, of course, Procter & Gamble, and he told me an instructive story with some glee.

It seems P & G wanted to enter the market for nappies or diapers in Japan with their successful brand Pampers. They failed miserably. It was nothing to do with the advertising or distribution. It was because they had not taken the trouble to find out two things, one quite obvious, the other not.

First, amazingly enough, Japanese babies have smaller bottoms than American babies.

Second, Japanese mothers are much more painstaking than American mothers, and change diapers far more often.

Net results of not doing their reconnaissance properly: they invested $2 billion and lost the lot.

By contrast when Honda entered the Californian market with their motor bikes, they did allow for the fact that American bottome are bigger than Japanese ones. Of course, that was not the only reason they succeeded, but they surely would have failed otherwise.

People often spend far too much time talking about big ideas and strategy and far too little paying attention to detail. Getting the details right will do far more for your brand than fancy ad campaigns.

You can transform a brand´s success without any advertising at all. My colleagues did this for the Mercedes M class a few years ago. My only contribution was to write a very fancy booklet and a letter to go with it. How was it done?

Well, you'll have to trek all the way to De Montfort University Business School to find that out. It´s an hour away from London. Do you think you can manage that?

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