Javier Benito

Exec VP-CMO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts

By Published on .

Big idea: Streamlined offerings

How it came to him: Competing in consumer cleaning products when at P&G

How it's changing his business: Expanding potential audience for Starwood's properties

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Exec VP-Chief Marketing Officer Javier Benito, an 8-year veteran of Procter & Gamble, has found that to reach more consumers, sometimes you have to collapse offerings.

"When I was at P&G, we were working in a category where there was a dominant player-bleach," says Mr. Benito, also former Coca-Cola CMO. "What they had done was very cleverly diversify the product line by coming up with new products that actually weren't different from the original." The strategy seemed successful, as the competitor had 80% market share.

But that company didn't realize that consumers suspected that the products were essentially the same. All customers wanted was something that could work in the laundry and also do some of these other cleaning jobs around the house. In other words, consumers use a product or service to satisfy a range of needs and emotional desires.

So P&G conveyed that it had a single product that truly fit the consumers' needs. The new bleach brand gained market share immediately.

It's a lesson Mr. Benito leans on to this day at Starwood, where he realized that patrons want a comfortable bed, yes, and also feelings of security and relaxation and an experience of a particular city. "We discovered that everything related to the senses is important," he says. So some Starwood-owned hotels use scents, such as certain teas, that research has shown help people connect with the idea of being relaxed. "The important thing for us is to give them the experience [they crave] in context of the hotel brand," Mr. Benito says. And suddenly the brand becomes what consumers want and need.
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