Long lauded for the deeply instilled processes that enabled it to build household-name brands, P&G has struggled to continue that winning streak over the past decade. Under CEO David Taylor, who was charged with addressing that issue when he took the helm in 2015, the company is looking to reignite the innovation engine by accessing ideas from frontline employees who engage directly with consumers of the household products it sells.
“It’s the folks who are in homes weekly in the markets we serve—in Japan or China, India or Indonesia, or here in the U.S.—who probably have the best insight in how to delight the consumer,” said Taylor. As an example, he cited a small P&G research group in Japan that came up with a new marketing concept while visiting homes to watch consumers use the company’s cleaning products. Observing several consumers lament the fact that there was no way to clean upholstery as they sprayed the company’s Febreze air freshening product on couches and chairs spawned the concept for an “I Wish I Could Wash” ad campaign.
“The U.S. ad showed someone putting a couch on top of a car and taking it through the car wash,” recounted Taylor. “The category went from declining 3 percent to growing almost 10 percent and we particularly prospered. That whole idea came from junior people in homes observing customers interacting with the brand. It would not have come up in our Cincinnati headquarters.”