Family tradition endures

Updated: 2010-12-06 10:22

By Wang Wei (China Daily)

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

Family tradition endures

Packages of Crest toothpaste on a shelf in a key food supermarket in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Procter & Gamble Co said its profit rose on sales of healthcare products such as Crest toothpaste and demand in developing markets including China. [Photo/Agencies]

BEIJING - Shannan Stevenson, president of P&G, Greater China, comes from a family that has enjoyed a long relationship with China. Indeed, his mother's bedroom at her home in the UK boasts a picture of a Chinese woman and Chinese calligraphy on the wall.

In the late 19th century, Stevenson's great-great-grandfather traveled from Scotland to Shanghai to trade wine and mineral water.

Family tradition endures

His grandfather took over the business and established a branch in Hong Kong. His mother was born in Shanghai and brought up by a nanny from Wuhan, named Kunyi, the subject of the bedroom picture.

"All my life I knew about Kunyi. Although she had passed away, she was always this wonderful lady who looked after my mother," Stevenson said.

Stevenson represents the fifth generation of his family's connection with the Middle Kingdom. On May 1, 2010, the former vice-president of P&G West Europe Laundry, took over from Daniela Reccardi officially to become president of P&G Greater China.

He has worked in the company for 23 years and previously served in several departments, including fabric care, health and beauty care, baby care and feminine care, across different countries including the UK, Turkey, Russia, and Egypt.

"This is not just a posting for me. It is not just some other place. I grew up hearing stories about China," he said.

After working and living in China for half a year, he has formed his own understanding about the country: It is a land of opportunities.

In a 40-minute exclusive interview with China Daily, he mentioned the word opportunity more than 10 times.

The opportunities for P&G to expand in China are enormous. The company will invest $1 billion over the next five years in the local market. Prior to that it invested just $1.5 billion since it entered China in 1988.

Stevenson vows to bring more P&G brands into the Chinese market, but declined to give an example.

The consumer products giant has more than 300 brands around the world, and little more than 20 have made an appearance in the Chinese market.

"We want to touch and improve more people's lives. Coming with products that can meet the needs of all walks of people's lives is the way to achieve our goal," he said.

Related readings:
Family tradition endures P&G promises 'full court press' in China
Family tradition endures P&G signs media deal with Oprah Winfrey Network
Family tradition endures NBC shooting TV movie with P&G, Wal-Mart
Family tradition endures P&G connecting with Chinese consumers

Stevenson has worked out a formula, through years working in P&G, on how to foster expansion: Try one's utmost to understand consumers' needs. But it could be a challenge in a country that is geographically huge and demographically diverse. Therefore, he doesn't sit in his office in downtown Guangzhou to try to achieve this goal, but goes out in an attempt to understand every single customer.

Recently, he spent a day with a lady who lived in rural Hunan province. He arrived at her home in the morning before she brushed her teeth. He went shopping with her and observed her all day long.

"I followed her all around like a little child because I wanted to know what is important to her and her family. How much money she earned and what she could afford and what not," he said.

A few days later, he went to an affluent consumer who lived in Dalian, Liaoning province. He found out she had 33 different products in her shower cubicle alone.

Exploring China and spending time with his family are top of his list during his spare time.

Stevenson is delighted to see that the family's link with China is going to pass down to the sixth generation. Over summer, one of his boys worked for a business magazine in Shanghai, while his second son did an internship in Beijing. They want to continue to work in China.

"I often tell my family that China is the happening country in the happening part of the world. So why not come?" he said.



Ear We Go

China and the world set to embrace the merciful, peaceful year of rabbit

Preview of the coming issue
Carrefour finds the going tough in China
Maid to Order

European Edition


Mysteries written in blood

Historical records and Caucasian features of locals suggest link with Roman Empire.

Winning Charm

Coastal Yantai banks on little things that matter to grow

New rules to hit property market

The State Council launched a new round of measures to rein in property prices.

Top 10 of 2010
China Daily in Europe
The Confucius connection