Isn’t the entrepreneur a different person from a manager? | Inquirer Business

Isn’t the entrepreneur a different person from a manager?

09:40 PM December 19, 2013

Q: Two Fridays ago, your column talked about the case of pHCare. What was fascinating in this case was how the captain of the Unilab Task Force in charge of this new product, Freddie Rodriguez, innovated in its development and market launch.

We’re a small group of marketing professors in AME (Association of Marketing Educators) and we got to huddle around in our regular watering hole discussing how exactly Freddie innovated. Your column gave some hints about these but they were not specific enough.  We had lots of questions and exchanged hunches.  The common denominator in our differing opinions was how much learnings our marketing students can gain from “the real score.”  Will you help us gain insight into that real score?  It’s not for us.  This is more for our marketing students.


A: You hit us where we are weak.  We’d go out of our way to help students understand the marketing world and their eventual working life in it.  For your marketing students in search of a model manager from whom they can learn how they can become a creative and smart entrepreneuring manager, here’s the “real score” on Freddie Rodriguez’s innovating skills.

In what follows, we’ll profile Freddie’s innovating style as a manager.  We’ll do this by going over his “shifting innovating leadership roles” that he played as head of the Unilab Task Force in charge of pHCare’s market launching.  We’ll focus on just two of those roles.  The data from which this profile is based come from the Senior MRx-er’s notes.  In the Task Force, he served as Freddie’s market research and consumer insighting consultant.


For context, keep in mind what we said in that November 29th MRx column: “pHCare’s successful market launch was and still is unprecedented.  It scored a first year entry market share of 52 percent or 10 times the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods).  According to ACNielsen, before the turn of the millennium, the entry market share of FMCG brands over the past 20-30 years averaged 5 percent to 6 percent.  Only one brand succeeded exceeding 10 percent.  That was Rejoice whose first year entry market share was 18 percent.”  So pHCare’s 52 percent was truly phenomenal.

The first of those two innovating leadership roles is “the market responsive direction setting role.”

Freddie started the pHCare project with this revenue objective: “Get to a P100 million revenue for the first year.”  But he told his Team: “We’ll adjust upward as we get  more and more market information.”

In the Team, it was the finance manager who said that the P100 million was just 30 percent higher than the average first year revenue productivity of Unilab’s past successful consumer health brands.  Depending on product development and what feminine wash product it’s able to develop, that target revenue, he said, can be raised to 50 percent higher or more.

Freddie made sure that in the Team, there was someone from Sales for the sales plan, someone from supply chain and manufacturing for the production plan, someone from the ad agency for the A&P plan, and someone in market research and consumer insighting for the market forecast, market segment targeting, and positioning.  For the reality check, Freddie chose someone who was a consumer health veteran and who knew the ins and outs of the consumer health organization, and how important people inside work and relate to one another.

All these Team members had to be present in all of the weekly plannings and feedback meetings.  The “wisdom” of this attendance requirement came to everyone’s appreciation in at least two occasions.  The first of these was when during the initial budget presentation, the man from finance murmured but loud enough for everyone to hear: “So now I understand why you guys ask so much for advertising and promo.”  That was an implied buy-in from finance.  It was an implied assurance that when the final budget hearing comes, the chances of finance cutting in half marketing’s proposed budget will be minimized.

The second occasion happened much later when pHCare reached its annual sales target by the end of the first quarter.  Manufacturing had to go on three shifts.  But the panic wasn’t there.  It was with Purchasing.  When the project began, the chosen supplier of the bottles could not provide the needed volume of the bottle covers.  So Purchasing sourced the cover from another supplier.  Freddie instructed Purchasing to have a “Plan B” for both bottles and covers.  When Manufacturing had to get into three shifts, it was the bottle cover supplier who could not deliver the required volume.   Had there been no “Plan B,” you can easily guess what could have happened to the project.


Freddie’s second innovating leadership role may be called his “insight synthesizing role.

The Team met once or twice a week and even more often depending mainly on what new market information and insights came along.  The most game-changing market information was about the femwash non-user segment.

Data from AC Nielsen said that the femwash category users were a mere 18 percent of the total population of menstruating women.  This meant that the non-user segment  was a very large 82 percent.  Practically all asked: “How can the market leader brand, Lactacyd, not know this?”  The explanation was simple.  It came from the basic assumption of the UAI (Usage, Attitude, Image) survey about the target survey respondent.  That’s defined as the “category user.”  So the non-user segment is overlooked in almost all cases and its business growing potential remained unknown.

Freddie gave immediate instructions for a study of non-users.  In particular he wanted research to find out these two things: (1) what non-users were using for their feminine hygiene in place of the commercial feminine wash, and (2) what these non-users find “wrong” from using those “substitutes.”

Research came back and reported that the most used substitute was soap and water.  What do these women find “wrong” with soap and water for feminine wash purposes?  Most mentioned were these two.  First, “it makes me feel dry down there.”  Second, “Later in the day, it feels itchy.”

In the meeting that followed, Freddie threw this question at product development: “What sort of femwash product can fully solve those two consumer problems and which they can buy at substantially cheaper than Lactacyd?”  At the same time, he told Market Research and the Ad Agency to work together in crafting and testing the positioning and value proposition of this new femwash product.  He also asked supply chain, finance and manufacturing to be ready with their support for the new femwash product.

Freddie’s orchestration and synthesis of the differing inputs from the Team members came to the final result of pHCare.  It was the femwash with a pH balance of 5.5.  This made it suitable for daily use without leaving the user’s external genitalia feeling dry and itchy plus (and this was the big plus) removing and not just deodorizing the odor down there.  The new femwash effectively repositioned Lactacyd whose 3.5 pH balance made it a medicine against UTI (urinary tract infection).

In a recognition ceremony honoring Freddie for pHCare’s unprecedented market success, Freddie was heard kidding the Unilab president who said he was his best project manager: “I know I was good but I didn’t know I was that good.”  Like other innovating managers whose entrepreneuring skills have been sharpened and polished by repeated successful experiences, innovating came naturally.  It’s at this point when Freddie and others like him take their skills for granted even believing wrongly that if they could innovate, others can, too and can do so as naturally and as readily as they do.

Keep your questions coming.  Send them to us at [email protected] or [email protected] God bless!

To discover how to get mentored by Dr. Ned, visit

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