Warning!!! Gringa Loose on the streets of Lima!! The search is on – keep an eye out for her eating cookies and yelling at taxi drivers. 

(Uriel designed this milk carton to send to my parents)

Over the past two weeks I’ve walked countless cookie, cracker and snack aisles in over 15 of Lima’s largest supermarkets. I’ve roamed around the city with sales reps walking door-to-door to watch them sell their products to cafes, gyms, schools and kiosks. I’ve probably eaten my weight in cookies, could recite Apilab’s main competitors by memory and have discovered a new passion for talking to taxi drivers.

(Kelly with Jose, Apilab’s distributor to the main grocery stores)

This is what I call guerilla style competitive analysis. Not only did I almost get arrested on my first day in the field (FYI – it’s illegal to take pictures inside private supermarkets in Peru without permission) but I also gave myself a black eye. TEMLabs are tough, but that is why we love them.

(The self-inflicted shiner)

When conducting a competitive analysis, the reports from IBIC, TBird’s fantastic library, are wonderful and we can get an overall sense of the market by reading the reports in our pajamas from the sofa, but it’s a completely different perspective when we actually do the market research ourselves and feel the pulse of the market.

For example, one general observation I made is that in the major supermarkets you’ll see middle aged women shopping alone, older men shopping alone (they especially love all the taste testing, which is very popular here) and younger people in their 30’s shopping as a couple. Very rarely do you see a 20 something year old man with a cart going up and down the center aisles. When you do see a young man or male teenager, he’s usually buying drinks and snacks. For example, just yesterday I saw a somewhat overweight man buy a six-pack of Pilsen and a package of oregano Fibra Light at the gas station near our house. Fibra Light is our client’s best selling product. He wasn’t necessarily the type of guy Apilab considers to be their main target customer, but it was a fantastic finding. I imagine there are more men like him throughout Lima picking up their Thursday night six-pack along with some Fibra Light. Seeing this and watching him make his purchasing decisions will help us design a more comprehensive marketing plan that is informed by more than what we can gather in reports.

This type of market research also gave us the chance to identify key stakeholders that we assumed didn’t play a crucial role in our client’s success. The two distributors I’ve shadowed have incredibly valuable insights on what the market needs are and how Apilab could better fulfill them.

Just this week, Patricia and I shadowed Apilab’s salesman for the alternative channels. Freddy walks around the city all day, every day selling Apilab’s and a few other packaged food companies’ products mainly to gyms, cafes, kiosks and private sports clubs. Fredy has been one of the most impressive and intelligent stakeholders we’ve come across thus far. Not only does he have an intimate understanding of the market and its gaps, he has great ideas for new products and how Apilab can improve sales. The full day Patricia and I spent with him walking for miles and miles through the streets of middle class neighborhoods in Lima has been the highlight of my TEMLab work thus far, and I look forward to shadowing him again in the coming days.

(Patricia with Fredy at the YMCA café)

(Kelly Conducting the Visual Brand Driver exercise with Fredy over lunch)

In closing, I’d like to give a big shout out to my team for watching my back, giving up their day’s work to go into the field with me on crazy adventures and letting me fill our house with competitor cookies and crackers. Patricia, Uriel and Bryan really are the best teammates a TEMLab girl could ask for! 

Saludos a todos,

Kelly Tiller