Colgate Hispanic Marketing

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In her seven years at Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s Hispanic Marketing Development Group, Ruth Gaviria helped transform the unit to a full-fledged brand group from an events and promotions shop.

As director of Hispanic marketing in 1996, she led the effort to bring Suavitel fabric softener and Fabuloso cleaner from Mexico to the U.S.

It was a bold move designed to capitalize on Colgate's relative strength in Latin America by bringing brands to appeal to recent immigrants in the U.S.

It proved to be a brilliant move. Fabuloso, backed mainly by sampling and other promotions, has built an 11.9% share among Hispanic consumers. Suavitel, backed by ads from Siboney USA, New York, has reached a 19.8% share with Hispanic consumers, pushing it ahead of Snuggle to become No. 2 behind Procter & Gamble Co.'s Downy, and gaining 7.8 share points in 1999 among Hispanic consumers, according to Colgate.

Ms. Gaviria left Colgate in late 1999 to become VP-marketing and sales at, but the legacy of her work continues. Colgate is marketing Caprice shampoo in select markets as its first U.S. haircare entry from Latin America.

The floral scent of Fabuloso inspired the successful general market launch of Palmolive Spring Sensations dishwashing detergent last year and a new aromatherapy line of Colgate's Softsoap liquid soap -- not to mention similarly styled products from P&G's Mr. Clean and Clorox Co.'s category-leading Pine Sol.

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