Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

You can tell a lot about people from the way they clean their homes. Having insight into the way Latinas clean theirs has helped Mariana Quiroga carve out the market for 3M.

In Hispanic households, a clean house is seen first and foremost as a source of pride, not just hours of daunting chores. But not every marketing strategist in America understands that.

 Mariana Quiroga, global business director for the home care division at 3M
Mariana Quiroga, Global Business Director for the Home Care Division, 3M

Mariana Quiroga grew up with a grandmother who greatly appreciated a clean house. “Because cleaning is such a private activity, you often don’t see how someone else cleans,” Quiroga explains. “You just assume the way your family does it is the way that every family does it.” All the women in Quiroga’s family felt that cleaning their homes showed care for their loved ones. “Many Latina women take so much pride in being able to clean things by hand that they rarely use the dishwasher even if they have one,” she notes. As a Latina, Quiroga understands how other Latinas see elbow grease as the way to get everything clean. She also knows that with the right marketing, every Latina will recognize Scotch-Brite sponges as “the ones with a soft side and a scrubbing side.”

It was valuable for a company that operates in more than 70 countries around the world to have a Latina at the helm of its home care division. 3M’s home care division is one of its top-selling consumer groups globally. Aside from the typical 3M products you think of, such as Post-It Notes and Scotch Tape, the home care products, such as Scotch-Brite sponges, are some of 3M’s most recognizable consumer products.

3M has been historically more focused on developing great products than marketing them. Quiroga’s team was tasked with improving this critical function in all foreign subsidiaries and American businesses. She felt the role was a great fit for her when the opportunity arose to step in as global business director for the home care division.

She and her team have done extensive research on the ways in which advertising can attract the Latina consumer, especially between the ages of 25 and 50. Although TV advertising is still popular with Hispanics, Latinas are increasingly influenced by social media. Making up a large portion of social media users, Latinas share comments on the products they trust with their social networks. 3M is different from other companies in that it is not as globally centralized; there are offices developing new products in countries all over the world. The global headquarters in Minnesota effectively uses ideas from other countries and finds ways to market them here in the United States. This works extraordinarily well when a Latin American country develops a product that can be an instant hit with US-based Hispanics, especially in Texas and Southern California.

The company has also been effective at recruiting employees with a variety of skill sets. 3M has been involved with the promotion of science, technology, engineering, and math efforts for minorities from an early stage in the game. Students from a range of universities are recruited to help the company stay relevant within all of its markets.

Quiroga’s goal in her current role is for every household to have a Scotch-Brite product to help brighten their homes. Beyond sponges, the home care division also encompasses lint rollers, brooms, mops, bathroom cleaning supplies, grill cleaning products, and Scotchgard for protecting upholstery and other types of surfaces. The division additionally produces a number of country-specific products (such as O-Cel-O sponges in the United States and Fiorentina floor care product in Argentina).

When Quiroga began working for 3M, she wasn’t working for a specific business line, she was part of a larger effort by the company to improve marketing practices across business and all international subsidiaries. “I’ve been proud to be a part of the growth of 3M and the home care division,” Quiroga says. “We’re selling millions of products by paying attention to our consumers and ensuring that their needs and wishes are heard.”