What Can We Learn from P&G’s New Laundry Pods?

Judging for the response to P&G’s new laundry pods, there isn’t much excitement about this latest innovation in laundry care.  Maybe it is due to the fact that a lot of innovation these days has been called “game changing” when it really only is a line extension or product improvement.  There is a lot of hyperbole in the world of innovation, always looking for the next “disruptive” innovation.  Maybe it is a sign of the times with so much happening in the online and technology world (facebook, twitter, foursquare, iPhone4, tablet computers, etc.).  It is good to strive for these types of innovation to create “blue oceans”.  But it should not be the end-all-be-all.

Good innovation, just like life in general, is about balance.  You need the right mix of products, pearls and all.  The key is good portfolio management so you can play to your core strengths in critical strategic areas.  Though it is good to strive for disruptive innovation, it is not realistic to achieve it every time you launch a new product.

Good innovation is about fulfilling a consumer need.  If you can achieve it with “game changing” innovation, that’s great, but it does not always have to be that way.  In consumer testing, P&G says that consumers love the convenience of having a pre-measured pod to get “excellent results with minimal time and effort.”  That is the need the pods are fulfilling.  One need they are not fulfilling is that of consumers washing less than a full load.  For that need, the innovative method® pump product, mentioned in one of my previous post, might be better suited.

As Robert Cooper wrote in his book “Winning At New Products”, there are different types of innovation.  They all play a critical role in a product portfolio and should be used to achieve strategic goals set: New to the world, new to the company, new to the category, product improvement, line extension, cost reduction.

Innovation is hard work.  Innovation is a continuous process.  It doesn’t stop with the launch of a product.  Far from it, it is omnipresent and requires to continually improve, research, challenge, dream, etc.

P&G’s launch of Tide Pods is just that.  Having failed in the 1960s with its Salvo tablets and seeing its competition fail in the 1990s with their improved versions, P&G has continued to research for the right technology and the right time to address a consumer need.  Despite failures and competitive entries, P&G is re-entering the laundry pod category.  It is not easy to come back from failure and it certainly is not easy to try something again after failure.  The Tide Pods are fulfilling a specific consumer need that fits into the Tide product portfolio.  They may not be new to the world nor to the company or category, but I am sure they are achieving a strategic goal within the Tide portfolio.  There is a lot we can learn from that.

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About Stephane

Stephane Bardin has a deep understanding of consumers, combining go-to-market strategy and successful execution to drive sales growth. He is a strong marketing executive with strategic consumer and analytical talents in growing brands in the US and internationally. He is a consumer catalyst, producing results for: - Budweiser Beer - McDonald's - Hasbro - Pfizer - Kraft - Starbucks - Bumble Bee - Designer Whey - Aquafina - Tropicana - BRISK - Pepsi and more • Drove Budweiser Beer achievement of #1 foreign beer brand recognition in China. • Developed strategies to re-launch McDonald’s chicken sandwiches. • Developed top-line revenue stream for Bumble Bee in two new markets • Created the best-ever consumer promotion for Unilever brands. Stephane has a reputation for conceptualizing and executing integrated consumer marketing programs that positively impact P&L results. Stephane Bardin is an expert in using new technologies and media to connect consumers with brands and drive bottom-line results. He is a collaborative contributor who is an expert at building brand equity, loyalty, and ROI for highly recognized consumer products and brands. He has demonstrated performance using key levers of marketing to drive strategy and sales growth: advertising vehicles, consumer promotions, consumer/market research/syndicated data, new product development/innovation, multicultural marketing, interactive/digital/mobile/social media, SEO, public relations, shopper marketing, and partnership/alliance marketing. • Positive P&L Impact and Growth • Branding / Equity Building • Strategic Alliances / Partnerships • New Product Development / Innovation • Social Media/Online/Ecommerce Marketing • Cross-functional / Cultural Team Leadership • Strategic Planning /Tactical Execution • Syndicated Data Analysis and BASES • Advertising and Sales Promotion • Shopper Marketing • Trademark Management • Global Marketing Strategy
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