P&G pushes big ideas

16 March 2011

CINCINATTI: Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, is using "store-back branding" to ensure the big ideas behind its products transfer from advertising and marketing to the retail arena.

Speaking with business title Forbes, Phil Duncan, P&G's global design officer, suggested adopting an integrated model is vital.

More specifically, while successful ad campaigns - such as the "Thanks, Mom" umbrella effort for last year's Winter Olympics and "Smell Like a Man, Man" on behalf of Old Spice - are key, they cannot function in isolation.

"We make sure we can translate the big idea, or ideal, in a signature visual or with a few simple words. For example, the idea driving the Crest brand is a 'healthy, beautiful smile,'" said Duncan.

This process necessarily begins at the early stages of innovation, as the owner of Tide and Pampers attempts to guarantee its offerings stand out as buyers reach the "moment of truth".

"We tell our teams that as they develop the idea to think about the most difficult branding arena first, which is, of course, the shopping arena," Duncan added.

"We call this store-back branding. We use the store-back branding approach first so we can evaluate whether the big idea will work where and when the consumer is in an actual purchasing state of mind."

P&G now regularly employs digital simulations of supermarkets both to identify the optimal display level to catch the attention of customers, and in focus groups assessing packaging.

"Often the in-store execution, whether it's the packaging or point of sale material, is the only marketing the consumer sees," Duncan argued.

"We need to make sure our communication of the core brand idea is not only reinforced in the store, but that it can stand alone in the store."

Such "retail branding" initiatives must bolster the central product proposition, and can also be deployed alongside alternative channels to help shoppers acquire an overall picture.

"Because packaging is essential in retail activation, we use our online efforts to showcase the packaging within a store environment," said Duncan.

While all of these factors can exert an influence on the ultimate decisions made by customers, this outcome is most likely to occur if marketers emphasise a "single idea", Duncan continued.

In an example of this, the latest creative concept supporting P&G's Gain detergent range is called "Love at first sniff."

This notion has been leveraged to inform various promotional strategies, indicating the cross-media possibilities that result from imbuing a brand with a clear, consistent message.

"Through our television and video ventures we encourage people to literally take the cap off the Gain bottle and smell the detergent," said Duncan.

"Once they actually smell it they're more apt to buy it."

Effectively adapting to the retail space thus offers firms major advantages against competitors by building on the awareness and perceptions created by communications utilising other mediums.

"We've essentially shortened the path to purchase. The objective for all marketers is to use the in-store experience to reinforce the brand benefits as communicated in other channels," Duncan concluded.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff