When P&G’s new CEO took the helm, his observation was that the company was innovating, but not successfully executing to develop compitetive advantage. Below is a video from Businessweek.com with information on CEO A.G. Lafley’s approach and his new book.
When Procter & Gamble acquired hair-care company Clairol in 2001, it inherited a floundering shampoo brand. By 2004, Herbal Essences, at the time nearly 35 years old and a mass-market hair-care brand for women, was in a “long-term decline,” reports Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley. Marketed to all women (or at least those who wash their hair), the line had gone stale, with little distinction from the many competitors it shared on the drugstore shelf.
To find the right new, smaller target market for the brand, P&G turned to an immersion program for P&G managers to jump-start innovation. There, the team came up with a new target audience for the brand—Generation Y. “In the case of Gen Y, there really wasn’t another hair-care brand that was really meeting their needs,” says Lafley. “The question was: ‘Can Herbal do it?'”
P&G bet yes. They redesigned the packaging of the product to “fit” this more tailored market: The shampoo and conditioner bottles are curved so that they literally fit together on the shelf. The nesting shape not only helped Herbal Essences stand out from others on the shelf but also encouraged more young women to buy both products, driving up conditioner sales.
To appeal to Millennials, the team also updated the language on the packaging. The ho-hum “dandruff” reference gave way to “no flaking away.” Names for different hair styles were changed to more youthful phrases such as “totally twisted” or “drama clean.” “We totally reframed the proposition,” says Lafley. While P&G doesn’t break out sales figures on specific products, the company reported in a conference call soon after the shampoo was relaunched that the brand was growing again, with sales growth rates in the high single digits.