CINCINNATI — While many of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble's top executives are looking overseas for expansion, Melanie Healey's focus is on growing what already is the consumer products maker's biggest market.
As P&G's North America Group president, part of Healey's job is to build sales for products like Tide detergent, Pampers diapers and Charmin toilet paper in the United States. That's a challenging task because U.S. customers who face job losses, low wages and higher prices in the down economy have tightened their household budgets.
The United States, which accounts for about 40 percent of P&G's annual revenue, is not an obvious growth area for the company. For one, P&G estimates that up to 99 percent of U.S. households already use at least one P&G brand.
As a result, there's much more room for growth overseas. Emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil fueled global sales growth that last year climbed 5 percent to $82.6 billion. Meanwhile, sales were nearly flat in the United States, Canada and other developed countries.
But Healey said the United States is such a big market that it's critical for the company.
"It's still such a big part of the business that it has got to continue growing to fuel the growth for the rest of the world," Healey said. "We have some of our highest market shares in the world here in the U.S., and there's a lot more growth to be had."
Here are excerpts from an interview in which Healey, 50, talked about the strategies P&G is using to get that growth:
Increase the number of products customers use: "Our mantra in North America is 'just one more and a healthy core.' If I take the 8 to 9 percent of households in North America that have 10 or 11 P&G brands, what if I got the 8 to 9 percent to 10 to 11 percent or I got that 10 or 11 brands to grow to 12 to 13 brands in those households? That 'just one more' is equivalent to about $7 billion in growth."
Offer more price tiers: "Charmin is a great example of a brand where we've worked very hard to understand the different consumer needs and segments out there, and really understanding how to advertise to each one of them — 'Soft, Strong, Basic.' We've really nailed down our targets on each one of those products."
Reach the growing Hispanic population: "For us, the important thing is we want to play where the growth is. The biggest area we are focusing on is making sure we are designing products that win with Hispanic consumers ... P&G on Sept. 15 launched a bilingual online site for Hispanic women, called 'Orgullosa,' offering beauty and household tips, inspirational stories, and product information."