Sense of purpose drives P&G

20 January 2011

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, is combining consumer insights and its global reach to pursue "purpose-driven branding" around the world.

"We still have a core benefit but are thinking more broadly on how we can deliver it," Marc Pritchard, P&G's global marketing and brand building officer, told the Economic Times.

"We are very focused on sharpening what the brands stand for, identifying human insights that can translate into big ideas.

"If you focus on the consumer, what your brand is doing to serve the consumer and if you have a big idea, you will win most of the time."

Taking the example of the Pampers nappy range, Pritchard suggested the overarching goal was "to improve a baby's healthy, happy development."

Such a positioning has been broadened through a partnership with UNICEF, providing vaccinations for mothers and babies in emerging economies when customers buy an appropriate pack.

"It helps bring the community of moms together since they like to help other moms," Pritchard argued.

However, the "Smell Like a Man, Man" effort from Old Spice aftershave demonstrates the flexibility of P&G's vision.

"Purpose is much more than a cause or a corporate responsibility," said Pritchard.

"We deliberately focused on making people define purpose as how brands improve everyday lives. A cause is just a piece of it as opposed to the whole thing."

Max Factor's SK2, which contains an anti-ageing ingredient called Pitera, as originally used by Japanese monks to keep their skin in good condition, received a similar treatment.

"We built from that story, tested it in different markets and now it's more than half a billion dollars and growing like crazy," Pritchard revealed.

Equally, the "Women Against Lazy Stubble" programme for Gillette in India, adopting a tongue-in-cheek view showing the advantages of being clean-shaven, enabled the company to truly engage shoppers.

"Purpose takes on a more meaningful role in developing markets," Pritchard argued.

This is partly because the need to educate people living in rural areas of nations like Brazil, China and India poses unique challenges.

In-store marketing assumes a vital status in meeting these objectives, as P&G seeks to attract potential customers at the "moment of truth."

"We market back from there to create awareness to get them to that point," Pritchard argued. "It means you are always on."

The owner of Tide and Febreze currently sells products in 4m high-frequency outlets in India, and is adapting packaging, alongside helping with on-shelf presentation.

"We have consolidated the number of distributors into a core highly capable, powerful group. We give them the material, knowledge and know-how on display," Pritchard continued.

In-depth research has also proved essential in driving trial in India, and while substantial variations exist between countries, certain commonalities allow successful models to be deployed elsewhere.

"Much of what we learnt in India has been exported to other markets like Africa, for example," stated Pritchard.

The opportunities yielded from a multinational presence include the ability to test products in assorted markets in diverse ways.

This was shown by Pantene, which P&G acquired in 1985, when the brand's annual revenues stood at only $70m (€52m; £44m).

"We put the new technology in, and launched it in Taiwan and came up with Pantene Pro V. Now it is over a $3bn brand," Pritchard said.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff