P&G Shifts Focus To Packaging, Adopts Design Thinking Globally

Consumer Packaged Goods giant Procter & Gamble is acting “smaller” by re-focusing its marketing around reaching consumers at the store level.

Consumer Packaged Goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) has long been considered a leader in brand marketing across its vast portfolio. In spite of being a corporate behemoth, they have championed a number of initiatives more oftentimes adopted by smaller, nimbler brands – such as allocating a more significant portion of their product launch ad budgets to digital media, or making social media a key platform. In spite of their size, one can argue that with their nimbler, calculated risk-taking- P&G’s brands oftentimes try to think and act “smaller”,  a key theme that attendees at this past Friday’s PSFK Conference in NYC may recall.

The latest case in point comes via an AdAge article discussing P&G’s re-focusing its marketing organization around reaching consumers at the store level, and its ensuing decision to incorporate design thinking into its brand building function. P&G’s shift was in part driven by research indicating that in-store marketing is the leading medium (beating TV) in creating awareness of new package goods,  with nearly three quarters of consumers becoming aware of new products by simply seeing them on the shelf.  And what drives that visibility is the product’s packaging.

According to P&G Global Design Officer Phil Duncan,

“We now are brand-building from the eyes of the consumer toward us. We’ve always believed the consumer should be boss, but we had an organization that was a little function-specific. By coming together as a real multifunctional team, I think we’re already seeing bigger and better ideas.”

While P&G has begun incorporating design thinking into its organization globally and across a number of business challenges (revamping under-performing brands, solving business problems and creating new franchises across complementary brands), many of these have yet to hit store shelves.  That said, P&G sees that first experience a consumer has with the brand upon seeing the packaged product on store shelves as the “moment of truth” – making package and product design the first area in which it will see the results of its design approach;

For the Febreze Home Collection, designers spent time in consumers’ homes and boutiques, segmenting consumers by home-decor preferences and developing fragrance and decorative ranges for each segment that include battery-powered flameless luminaries with changeable scented shades, along with reed diffusers, scented candles and room spays. The initiative has helped P&G add two share points in air fresheners since launching last year.

What makes this corporate priority relevant is not only P&G’s recognition of the ultimate impact that packaging and product design have on a consumer’s emotional experience with the brand, but also the realization that a brand shouldn’t plan its approach in terms of internal disciplines and their political muscle.  Operations, Marketing and R&D are each disciplines that contribute to an overarching, single objective: the way a consumer experiences a brand and its products. A consumer doesn’t perceive or experience the different contributions of each discipline to his or her perception of the brand, but only the single experience they have with the product.

AdAge: “P&G Pushes Design in Brand-Building Strategy”

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