Wednesday, July 3, 2013

P&G's Line Extensions for Faster Cleanup

Few US consumers have the time or inclination to work long hours deep-cleaning their homes every week. Procter & Gamble has been updating products and packaging to give today's customers what they need for speedier spot-cleaning, based on studies showing how cleaning habits have changed.

"When we were kids, the majority of the country used to drop in some dish liquid, fill up the sink with water, soak all of their dishes and then after a bit of time clean them, rinse and place them in a drying rack," remembers the head of marketing for Procter & Gamble's Cascade and Dawn cleaning brands. "Today, consumers just don't have time for batch-processing."

Having observed customers up close and personal, P&G recently launched Dawn Platinum Power Clean dishwashing liquid, designed to soak foods off dishes in minutes, not hours.

Another P&G introduction is Bounty DuraTowel, designed to deliver the benefit of more absorbancy and making it easier to rip one hefty sheet off the roll in a hurry. The idea is that a busy consumer doesn't want to fuss with the roll; he or she just wants to snap a single sheet off when needed to deal with a cleaning project or an unexpected spill--and do it right the first time with one towel, not a handful.

Line extensions like these can potentially cannibalize sales within the existing product line but also have great potential to attract new customers--or at least retain current customers who might otherwise defect to another brand.

Yet the more choices consumers have, the more confused they may become. The challenge for marketers is to simplify the choice, clarify points of differentiation, and sharpen the focus on what's really relevant to the target audience.

Line extensions are only part of P&G's marketing plan for higher sales and profits. The firm is also reinforcing the connection between its many individual brands (Bounty, Cascade, etc.) and the corporate parent. If customers like and trust one P&G brand, they might try another P&G brand. Last month, P&G held a one-day sampling event in which it distributed 40,000 free samples in one day in the heart of New York City. Why choose Manhattan for this massive sales promotion? "It's the world's biggest stage," explains a P&G executive.

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