MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Much can be said about the intricacies of marketing products specifically designed for personal care; after all, it’s a different direction of communication when speaking about such intimate items concerning self-care, wellness, and the like. For P&G Brand Country Director for Personal Care and Cleansing Justine Nuque, this line of messaging can only be pursued while anchored to a deep understanding and respect of the human person.
As one of Procter & Gamble’s young leaders spearheading growth and transformation across her catalogue, Justine has proven her brilliant contributions to the industry in just seven years with P&G. Some of the roles she took up in the multinational includes Singapore-based Regional Senior Brand Manager for Air Care Asia Enterprise Markets, and Country Brand Director for Hair Care Philippines. Currently, she holds the seat for Country Director for Personal Care and Cleansing, where she recently won the 2023 Mansmith Young Market Masters Award for Marketing Management award.
With Justine’s emphasis on focusing on the person, the “people-first” mindset comes to mind. But in this adobo Magazine exclusive, Justine defines her philosophy as something more systematic: the harmony of sincere curiosity and consumer advocacy within the business.
Firstly, Justine underlined the importance of curiosity. In this case, taking the extra steps to understand individuals further, on a personal level. This principle stems from her natural inclination to care for the human self, which she traces back to her own interests, advocacies, and values outside the work.
In the warmup to the conversation with adobo, she shared the opinion that everybody should watch ’80s film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind by Studio Ghibli.
“Like most of the studio’s films, there is a strong female heroine and a plot that explores themes like environmentalism, the value of life, and how human morality lives on a spectrum instead of being black or white. It reminds me to see the bigger picture despite the busy-ness of everyday life,” she mused.
Additionally, when she’s not working, Justine focuses her attention on spending quality time with loved ones, and investing in herself through exercise, reading, and journaling. In fact, she enthusiastically shared that she’s been walking 10,000 steps a day on average for over three years now — a testament to her commitment to self-care and wellness.
All this — her personal advocacy to self-care and going beyond the “busy-ness” of everyday life, and her natural inclination to know more — is attributed to the way she approaches her work and how she communicates with her target audiences.
Justine recalled her first encounter with P&G, dating back to her college years when she joined the company’s “Marketing Masters” program. As someone who grew up being encouraged by parents to actively participate in school, she developed the eagerness to learn early on, leading to student council roles and her first experience with P&G. She shared, “This experience taught me the fundamental principle of marketing: understanding our consumers, or the ‘who.’ This value has stayed with me as I ventured into different categories and markets. It’s fascinating to witness how the same brands can adopt different strategies based on the unique characteristics of their target consumers across markets. It’s an exciting and enriching journey!”
Zooming in on this “who,” Justine stressed what being a “champion for consumers” means to her as a marketer and as a person: “To me, it signifies a sincere curiosity [to understand] individuals on a personal level – exploring their dreams, aspirations, unmet needs, and concerns.”
And with the insights gathered from this exercise, it’s equally as important to make sure it translates to business decisions in terms of communicating and servicing the target audience, establishing mutual trust between brand and consumer.
The next step, therefore, is “to advocate for [consumers] within the business space,” as Justine put it. “Being a brand builder at P&G provides me the opportunity to enhance our responsiveness to their needs by engaging in a constant dialogue with our consumers and consistently innovating our products and brands to satisfy their needs,” she said. Hence, honing on the marriage between consumer insight and product innovation to push a successful brand story forward.
For her, P&G has been the most enriching environment to pursue and consistently develop this skill. She realized just one month into the company how marketing was so much more than what she originally understood: “Coming from an Economics background, I initially perceived marketing as merely crafting advertisements or campaigns. However, that’s just a facet of it. I discovered that it involves building brands that cater to consumer needs, brands that resonate and evoke affection from consumers. The process of brand building is multifaceted, influencing various aspects of the business, including long-term innovation, packaging, pricing, and even sales strategy.”
“The most rewarding aspect is engaging with consumers and witnessing the positive impact our brands have on their lives. It’s incredible to hear their stories, whether it’s about achieving a spotless clean on their dishes or feeling confident with a great hair day. These simple yet meaningful experiences highlight the value our brands bring to people’s everyday lives,” Justine furthered. This is what stands out to her as to why she believes she’s meant to be in this line of work.
The Head and Shoulders’ #NoItchuations is also a memorable project for her, one that she notes will always have a special place in her heart, primarily because of the strong insight behind its execution. The campaign builds on the human truth of itchy scalps ruining beautiful and important moments in our lives, like job interviews, acceptance speeches, cute dates, and the like. The brand called these incidents “Itch-uations,” and appointed Head and Shoulders as the primary agent to avoid these awkward moments.
“This initiative proved to be a game-changer, propelling the brand to unparalleled growth. It taught me a crucial lesson: innovative and sustainable business impact stems from understanding consumer truths – insights that may be straightforward but aren’t always readily apparent. In the realm of marketing, it’s imperative to be unwavering in our dedication to knowing and comprehending our consumers; this is the foundation upon which we build superior brands,” she explained.
Personal care = people care
Justine’s heavy emphasis on people empowerment is evident throughout her personal and professional journey, which is why it’s no surprise that, on winning the 2023 Mansmith Young Market Masters Award (YMMA) for Marketing Management, her immediate response was to put the spotlight on her colleagues.
“I owe the success that led to this award to my exceptional team, managers, and mentors. I want to extend my gratitude to the dedicated members of my P&G Hair Care team, as they form the backbone and driving force behind the brands and businesses, I’ve had the privilege to lead and work on. I am also indebted to my managers and leaders at P&G who have provided invaluable guidance, pushed me to grow, and empowered me to take on leadership roles. Their unwavering support continues to inspire me to pay it forward, particularly to the next generation of brand builders,” she remarked.
The Mansmith YMMA aims to recognize Filipino marketers, sales managers and entrepreneurs who are 35 years and below, and have shown exceptional achievements in encouraging and inspiring young people to be excellent entrepreneurs and outstanding brand builders. Justine is one of the 13 marketers who received the award in 2023.
Furthermore, she also relates professional satisfaction to personal connection, specifically on leaving lasting person-to-person impressions with consumers, colleagues, partners, and everyone she gets to work with. “As I reflect on the end of my career in the future, the sense of having done enough is synonymous with leaving a meaningful impact, making something better than how I encountered it. Whether that’s through business interventions that stand the test of time or, even more gratifyingly, through the growth and success of individuals I have mentored and worked with. Witnessing my own team members flourish, now assuming leadership roles and passing on their knowledge, is an unparalleled source of fulfillment,” Justine stated.
After leading the Haircare business in P&G for two years, Justine’s next move is to spearhead the Personal Care and Cleansing category, specifically with heritage brand Safeguard. With this milestone move, she shared her excitement to learn and grow more within a new category: “I am thrilled to uncover fresh consumer insights within this category, collaborate with a new and brilliant team members, and contribute to the further growth of the business. I am looking forward to the continuous learning and growth that this new role aspires to offer, further shaping me as a brand builder and a business leader in general.”
It’s no understatement to say that Justine Nuque as a marketer is one who’s strongly defined by her insistence to put the human person first, above all things. Who they are, what they need, how they can better be served or empowered — these are integral questions that she uses to aid not only her marketing work, but moreso her day-to-day interactions with partners, co-workers, and consumers. And it is this unique value on understanding the totality of the “who” that fuels her illustrious career in Procter & Gamble, and will be sure to take her next chapter to more meaningful and impactful heights.