THE HUMAN SIDE

Ecuador 2013 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Adriana González, Executive President of Kimberly-Clark Ecuador, on the company's background in the country and the role of innovation.

Adriana Gonzalez
BIOGRAPHY
Adriana Gonzalez was born in Venezuela and received a Bachelor’s degree from the University Catolica Andres Bello. Afterward, she pursued a Master’s in Business Administration at Metropolitana University. In 1992 she started working for Avon Cosmetics Venezuela. In 1996, she joined Kimberly-Clark Venezuela as Marketing Manager, and moved to Costa Rica in 2002 to lead the Family Care category in Central America. In 2005 she moved to Brazil to lead the Family Care Category for Latin America. She has been Country Manager of Kimberly-Clark Ecuador since June 2012.

What is the background story to Kimberly-Clark's presence in Ecuador?

We entered the Ecuadorean market 18 years ago, and have been operating in two main segments: diapers and bathroom tissues. Today, we are a leading company in the market with our consumer brands known worldwide, such as Huggies®, Kleenex®, Scott®, Kotex®, Poise®, Kimberly-Clark Professional®, Flor®, Jackson Safety®, Kleenguard®, and Wypall®. For example, in Ecuador we own 71% of the market in the diapers segment, 49% in bathroom tissues, and 27% of the market in the female sanitary products segment. Over the years, we have also invested significantly in a production facility in Ecuador. At the moment, we produce mainline diapers (we only import premium products in this range) and certain sanitary products. Quality standards are one of our main concerns and focuses, and we invest every year in making sure that we present our clients with products meeting the highest quality standards. Our mission is to lead the world in essentials for a better life.

What role does innovation play in your business activity?

We have innovation centers across the world, the main task of which is to develop new products for our portfolio. They also conduct detailed market research to establish strategic lines when it comes to importing products from other markets, and developing production facilities in operating countries. We apply innovation in our product portfolio, production lines, and commercial strategies. For example, Kimberly-Clark Ecuador has been a pioneer in electronic billing for the wholesale segment, and we apply innovative strategies to the production chain to give our products added value and make them more competitive and attractive for consumers.

What are the particularities of the Ecuadorean market?

Our regional market research reveals more similarities than differences between South American markets; however, it is crucial for multinational companies to understand the commercial behavior of local markets. In this context, Ecuador offers the perfect scenario in which to implement regional pilot projects. In our particular case, Ecuador was the country where we implemented—for the first time in the Andean region—a very innovative planning strategy, and we have exported many business practices from this country to other regional markets. This is a great advantage for Ecuador, as recognized multinationals like us can showcase and export successful practices and strategies.

How have operating profits evolved in recent years?

We have been in a very positive double-digit trend in terms of gross profit growth over the past few years. For example, in 2012 we grew by around 10%, which has been our average figure for the past five years. Regarding market share, we are constantly growing, and have experienced a very positive recovery in portfolios of particular value for consumers, which confirms that people really value our products.

How relevant is social responsibility in your business model?

Sustainability and social responsibility are two of the main pillars of the company's business model. We take into consideration all the stakeholders of our value chain, supporting the communities we operate in, while generating Kimberly-Clark's brand visibility. We dedicate many resources to environmentally-friendly practices and production activities. Our innovative activity is also heavily geared toward reducing the impact of our production activities on the environment. Furthermore, we prioritize the human side of business, rather than just the economic. This is one of our most precious competitive advantages, and we are among the top companies to work for in the entire Latin American region, if not the world.

What are the challenges facing the further expansion of the company in Ecuador?

Our main objective is to continue our sustainable growth experienced over the past few years, as well as to continue expanding our product portfolio in the best interest of consumers. That will allow us to grow our activities and market share in the country. This can only be achieved with the contribution of each individual involved in our activity in Ecuador, from administrative staff to specialized workers and partners. Ecuador holds huge potential, and we can continue providing our company with skilled and qualified Ecuadorean employees in relevant positions within the regional and international operations of Kimberly-Clark.