Indian innovation boosts P&G

7 March 2013

NEW DELHI: Procter & Gamble, the FMCG group, is selling products first developed for India in many other emerging markets, showing the country's potential as a research and development hub.

One example of this activity is Gillette Guard, a razor priced at just Rs15, and with refill cartridges commanding approximately Rs5, meaning they are affordable for large numbers of men.

The company's innovation team spent "thousands of hours" with Indian consumers, and their peers in other emerging markets, as well as conducting "shop alongs", in-home visits and "test shaves".

As a result of this activity, it created a razor which met the core needs of this group, including high levels of safety, affordability and usability, all while requiring 80% fewer parts than the Gillette Vector.

Bob McDonald, the company's CEO, told Indian title the Business Standard that this offering, aimed at the large numbers of men traditionally using double-edged razors, was an exemplar of good practice.

"What we do is try to locate the activity of creation in a market that seems relevant. Gillette Guard was invented here, a country where 50% of the shaves are done by double-edged blades," he said.

In reflection of its success, the Gillette Guard has been rolled out to a diverse range of other emerging markets, including China and Turkey.

Tide Naturals was also first made for shoppers in the Indian countryside. It contained sodium sulphate rather than calcium carbonate, thus keeping clothes clean while being kind to skin during hand washing.

"We realised it was important not only to get the clothes clean but to take care of the hands of the laundry user. It was expanded into Latin America and other parts of Asia," said McDonald.

Procter & Gamble's annual sales in India already surpass $1bn, having grown by 20% or more per year for over a decade. The country is also one of its ten priority emerging markets.

The need to deliver bespoke products for these nations has become increasingly pressing given the financial pressure in the US and Western Europe, and to ensure P&G retains its high standing globally.

"On any given day, over 4bn people use our products around the world. They vote on us every day," said McDonald.

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff