P&G unveils NPD blitz to revive household category

Procter & Gamble is to unveil an “unprecedented” raft of product innovations, including product extensions for its Ariel, Flash and Duracell brands, as part of a two-year new product development programme aimed at kick-starting growth in the flat household category.  

P&G NPD

Throughout July, the FMCG giant will launch NPDs including Ariel PODS, a range of Flash gels and a new technology for its Duracell brand, among several others (see box).

Each will be backed by a major marketing effort. Activity to support the launch of Ariel PODS, for example, will see the “biggest ever” point of sale campaign P&G has launched for one of its household brands in the UK. Forty-thousand point-of-sale kits will be sent to retailers.

The company has been criticised by some investors and analysts for a lack of innovation in the household category.

Ian Morley (pictured), commercial director for the household sector in the UK and Ireland admitted to Marketing Week the company had been “quieter than we have historically been in terms of rate of innovation to market” but had been waiting until it could launch products that “create value by enhancing the user’s experience and deliver better results than before [for consumers]”.

He added the initial launches act as a “starting pistol” to an “unprecedented” period of new product launches across its household division.

“In all categories in household over the next 24 months we will have regular new news. We will attempt to enhance user experience and enter new areas. We will be speaking to retail partners on a regular basis over the next two years.”

Product innovation was identified as a strategic priority by chief executive A.G. Lafley when it was announced he was replacing Bob McDonald as chief executive in May.

Last month, P&G launched a global experiential campaign that saw Blue Boxes containing samples of a range of its products handed out in cities across the world in an effort to demonstrate how its brand innovations “help improve everyday life”.

New product launches 

  • Ariel pods. A three-chamber liquid pod that is said to clean, fight stains and brighten clothes. It has been in development for 8 years, the company says.
  • Flash gels. A range of all-purpose cleaner being sold as the “biggest cleaner innovation in 20 years”. P&G claims the range is environmentally friendly because less water, plastic and energy is used in its creation compared to other similar products.
  • A range of liquid detergents under the Ariel, Bold, Fairy Non-Bio and Daz brands.
  • Fabreze Car Vent Clip that P&G claims will produce a continuous scent that the user can control.
  • The introduction of a new ‘Duralock Power Preserve’ technology in Duracell batteries. 

Viewpoint 

In launching this volume of product innovation, Procter & Gamble is looking to breathe life into a division, household, that has underperformed when held up against the company’s other concerns.

In the first three months of 2013, global sales from its fabric care and home care brands were flat. This compared to a 3 per cent increase in sales from baby and family care and an 8 per cent bump from health care brands.

Morley says growth in the categories its household brands operate in has been difficult to come by.

“In these categories, fixed consumption categories, getting growth is quite elusive. For example , between 2006 and 2013 there hasn’t been growth, it has been been flat as a pancake,” he says.

The NPD unveiled and planned, Morley continues, is about creating a “better experience” for consumers and in turn providing the growth retail partners “yearn” for.

A strong innovation pipeline, identified by A.G. Lafley as a key strategic priority in a memo to staff announcing his return to the company is the key to growth, particularly in developed markets beset by recession.

The strategy will be central to the company’s success, Morley adds: “ We are stepping up [ product innovation] and bringing it [innovation levels] back to the historical rate we bring products to market. It is our lifeblood. If we get innovation right it allows us to grow, that’s why we’re doing it, it’s part of a successful brand building model.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Laffley transformed P&G last time around from a Kremlin-like, inward-focused monolith to a consumer-focused innovation powerhouse.
    Although these innovation have obviously been in development for some time, it's good to see P&G raising its head again. Innovation is so dependent upon confidence across the organisation, these will provide important symbols that P&G is back!

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