Purpose boosts P&G

04 May 2011

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, believes its "purpose-inspired growth" strategy is benefitting everything from consumer insights to the work delivered by creative agencies.

Speaking in an interview with The Hub Magazine, Marc Pritchard, P&G's global marketing and brand-building officer, asserted old processes and procedures must now change.

More specifically, he argued the recession has made shoppers increasingly discerning, technology gives customers access to real-time information, and trust is becoming a key currency.

"When you think about marketing to consumers ... you tend to think only about how they may relate to your brand in the context of how they buy it or what they consume," said Pritchard.

"When you think about the consumers you serve as people, you think about their whole lives. You think about them much more broadly in terms of how to make your brand more relevant on an everyday basis."

"That drives us to find insights that are not just about the product benefit but go beyond that to look at a broader human insight that really motivates people and motivates action."

Indeed, Pritchard suggested identifying a clear mission surrounding each product enables P&G to blend widely-held preferences with localisation on-the-ground.

"We have found that a purpose is a common element of the brand around the world," Pritchard said.

"We have brand franchise leaders, who are essentially global brand managers for close to our top 50 brands, who define a purpose that is pervasive around the entire world."

These vital figures also determine the manner in which a brand's character and advantages are to be expressed, and this central proposition can then be implemented in alternative ways, and languages, across the globe.

Such a model obviously ties in neatly with social and environmental issues, as shown by Tide's "Loads of Hope" platform, where P&G helps provide clean clothes following natural disasters.

But it also assumes a larger role regarding reframing product perceptions on an everyday level.

"Purpose certainly gets people to think about the brand differently, broadens their thinking about how the brand fits into their lives and is more relevant," Pritchard said.

It even impacts how goods are designed, reflecting the unique needs of customers of all ages, as proved by Pampers.

"When thinking about a brand like Pampers, where the purpose is a baby's happy and healthy development, you want to make sure that a baby can sleep, play and explore," said Pritchard.

P&G's holistic approach covers fields like marketing, design and packaging - demonstrated by the fact the company attempts to work from the "store back" when formulating strategy.

"We like to think about executing it from the store back through the other mediums - public relations, digital, as well as traditional print and television," Pritchard said.

"In the last year-and-a-half, we have integrated the four different functions of marketing, consumer and market knowledge, design and external relations into one integrated, brand-building organisation. "

Similar shifts are at observable concerning P&G's relationship with its agencies, as the "purpose-inspired" mantra ultimately yields better results.

"It's unleashed some creative freedom," Pritchard said.

"Big ideas really come from doing creative work. So, what it's allowed us to do is inspire creatives to think and give us bigger ideas to build a whole brand and not just individual initiatives.

"That's been a very, very productive part of this whole effort."

Data sourced from The Hub Magazine; additional content by Warc staff