P&G Aims to Make Brands Fit Purpose

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Among the more interesting journeys to purpose-driven branding has been Procter & Gamble’s road. Under previous CEO A.G. Lafley, innovation was clearly the oft-spoken lifeblood of the company.

But now that current CEO Bob McDonald has had the reins for a while, “broader purpose” is the most important concept in the CPG giant’s cultural lexicon.

That priority, increasingly, is coming through in how P&G treats its brands, both globally and in “local” markets.[more]

Its purposed-inspired thinking is on display in a new interview in The Hub with Marc Pritchard, the company’s CMO.

Pritchard said, “purpose-inspired brands look more broadly at consumers as people and how we can make their lives just a little bit better with our brands.”

And while “purpose” is a “common element” of each P&G brand around the world, he said, the equities of the brand are expressed differently depending on particular markets. Another major facet of brand purpose is social and environmental causes, Pritchard said.

For example, he said, Pampers partners with UNICEF to provide vaccines in about 47 developing countries to eradicate neo-natal tetanus. And Tide’s Loads of Hope program helps bring clean clothes to areas around the globe after they’re affected by natural disasters, as it has done in Haiti.

Another, less lofty aspect of P&G’s brand-purpose impulse is to appeal more to shoppers in stores at the point of purchase, not just with brand advertising on TV or elsewhere. This is part of a new “shopper-back” philosophy at P&G.

Part of this thinking is “how to create experiences” for shoppers, Pritchard said. One example is how the Gain detergent brand came up with an in-store display that encouraged shoppers to take the cap off the bottle and smell it, because consumer research showed that Gain’s target customers liked to smell what they were putting on their clothes. The “Love at First Sniff” campaign, which brought singer Mandy Moore to local markets, boosted Gain sales.

One challenge, Pritchard said, is to help consumers connect P&G’s brands to the company – something that often doesn’t happen. So P&G is boosting its corporate-brand visibility as well, through initiatives such as the P&G People’s Choice Awards and its Family Movie Nights TV partnership with Walmart.

In the meantime, Pritchard told the online magazine, brand purpose “has provided people with a greater sense of meaning, and it’s definitely opened up a lot of possibilities in the new approaches and new ways of serving consumers.”

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