Innovation is everything to Ed Shirley of Procter & Gamble. The P&G exec was the guest speaker at a recent Cosmetic Executive Women Newsmaker Forum in New York City.
“I think it’s a smart choice to bring men into CEW,” said Shirley. “The more we know about women in the marketplace the more we can address their challenges and aspirations.”
Having recently served as head of Hispanic marketing at P&G, Shirley commented on how much he had learned and how much insight he gained into a community’s buying habits, tastes and aspirations.
Moderator Jill Scalamandre, chairwoman of CEW, noted the $350 million P&G spent on consumer research for the year, querying Shirley on the value of this research.
Left to right, Jill Scalamandre, chairwoman of CEW, Ed Shirley, vice chair, global beauty and grooming, P&G, and Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW.
“The test is, ‘Does the brand deliver on a promise? Our products do.’ Take a brand like Olay. It’s a portfolio. We launched Olay ProX right at the peak of the crisis and felt so strongly that consumers would be interested in it, even with the $65 price for the kit, because it was a great value relative to others available in different channels because it delivered on a promise,” he said.
Shirley noted that it is necessary to have a portfolio to provide access and different price points for consumers, and emphasized how television and magazines created awareness, so consumers might be predisposed to buy certain products.
“But, if we can continue to attract consumers with a package, as well as product formulations, we are meeting consumer need. It was therefore important that we reframe our approach and that is what we did,” Shirley said.
P&G began to speak more directly to “him,” as well as “her.”
Shirley explained, “I felt it was important to meet her needs more holistically, as well as his. By taking this view we identified the holistic needs of the consumer. We’re looking at wherever and whatever the consumer needs, both for him, with deodorants, body washes and shave products, and for her. We have gone beyond wet shaving into all aspects of men’s grooming. We believe in selling ideas, regimens, and opportunities for both women and men.”
This, stated Shirley, includes personal care, preparation for cosmetic application, hair, anti-aging, and moisturizers.
“They are all part of the holistic approach to meeting consumer need,” he said.
“We will approach some of our solutions with megabrands. For example, Dove is a megabrand. Gillette is a mega brand. Olay is a megabrand. People want selection and variety, so we’ll be careful about mixing brands with credibility, for example, Oral B with Crest, and Oral B powered by Braun,” he stated.
Shirley contends that P&G is positioned to help men and women get what they want, the looks they want, and the products they want, and to present their products in a meaningful way.
Innovation in the Industry
“It’s the commercialization of a product like Head & Shoulders that’s reframing the perception of the products, like putting the brand in front of the consumer with NFL’s Troy Polamalu,” said Shirley, alluding to the recent ad campaign for Head & Shoulders Shampoo for thicker hair, which shows the NFL star in a locker room scene with hair growing thicker in every frame. “We’re going back to consumer-led ideas and think it’s all about commercial innovation,” he said, citing P&G’s “Thanks Mom” campaign, with its tagline, “Proud Sponsor of Moms,” which depicts young athletes being cheered on by their moms as they pursue their goals. This particular campaign, which was shown to attendees at the presentation, was produced in collaboration with the Olympic Committee, and has garnered six billion impressions.
He expanded on the thought, noting, “Look at You Tube and Susan Boyle. If you have a product that delivers on a promise and can get it into consumer’s hands, and talked about by bloggers, you might find it easier to break through. Take advantage of the changing business model.”
When asked what keeps him up at night, Shirley replied, “We can’t get there fast enough. This is probably what I’d say because I’m so competitive. What obstacles are in the way that I can help remove? We have fierce competitors in the marketplace, but I fear no one,” said Shirley.