Fast Chat: Y&R’s Gonzalez on Shopper Marketing

Shop brands Latin American offering Labstore

Young & Rubicam is uniting its shopper marketing capabilities in Latin America under the banner of Labstore, the name of a like unit in Madrid. With a single moniker, Y&R expects shopper marketing personnel in Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico to more regularly share resources and knowledge. Also, although these nearly 300 staffers sit in the same offices as their main agency brethren, Labstore will have its own profit and loss responsibilities. Y&R Latin America CEO Eddie Gonzalez discussed the rationale for the branding move and his growth expectations for the unit.

Adweek: Labstore is a homegrown brand, right?

Gonzalez: It was originated in Spain back in 2001. One of their key clients is Telefónica, which also happens to be one of our key clients in Latin America. In other markets, we also service some of our core Y&R clients like Colgate and Danone.

Previously, this capability had different names in different countries.

Correct. For example, in Chile it was called Y&R Retail. Now we’re trying to integrate and consolidate the offering.

What are the pluses of doing it this way?

First, shared learnings. Find out what everybody is doing and try to establish some tools that everybody can take advantage of. Also, leverage our Brand Asset Valuator (research tool), which can help us connect a shopper with a brand. It’s like not [having] everybody out there like an independent island but being able to learn from best practices, what everybody else is doing.

How important is this as a revenue stream for Y&R?

It’s not yet at the level that it would be significant. In these markets, we’re talking about 300 employees, give or take. It’s definitely one area that we’re also looking at for the future—Hispanic markets. Retail in Hispanic markets. It’s key.

How is shopper marketing different in Latin America—or Spain—than in the U.S.?

I don’t think it’s different in the U.S. to Latin America in the sense that you’re trying to connect the consumer to the brand at retail. There are some operations, like the one in Spain, that [involve] the consumer-retailer encounter. … Some of the clients that Spain might have are clients that have their own retail outlets and we work with them in that regard. I think in the U.S. it tends to be more orientated toward fast-moving consumer groups.

The existing shopper marketing staffers in Latin America share space with Y&R staffers, correct?

Yes.

Will Labstore have its own profit and loss responsibilities?

We’re going to have our own p&l and branding like an independent unit.

Will Labstore have a CEO or creative chief?

Where the business is today, we really want to build things around clients. And the more CEOs you have, I think, the more costly [it becomes]. Each office will have a lead shopper marketing expert. Maybe CEO would not be the right word, but it definitely would have a lead shopper marketing director.

Some agencies, like Saatchi & Saatchi, develop this capability through an acquisition. Why did Y&R do this from scratch?

From a Latin American space, there’s not much out there. There might be, in a given market, a good operation that we might look at in the future. I would not discard that as an option. But it’s not something where I can go in and [buy] some network and get a region-wide offering.