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Shirley Talks Beauty and Grooming Head To Toe

By Nancy Jeffries, Correspondent | September 27, 2010

The P&G exec provides insights on everything from consumer attitudes to innovation.

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.
Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW, expressed her gratitude to the cosmetic industry and specifically to Shirley, P&G’s vice chair, global beauty and grooming, for continued support of CEW initiatives and the cosmetic industry in general. In appreciation of the value of partnerships in the industry, Armand de Villoutreys, president, worldwide perfumery, Firmenich, also noted the importance of collaboration and reciprocity in the industry, highlighting his company’s appreciation of such “passionate partners,” as P&G, with whom they have shared a successful relationship for more than 50 years.

Prior to this most recent appointment, Shirley served as group president for North America global operations at P&G, and group president of North America market development organization, since 2006. He previously held the position of president of international commercial operations of the Gillette Company, which was acquired by P&G three years ago.
Having worked in all aspects of the industry, from product development to general management, Shirley, who recently became a member of CEW, expressed his mission to spearhead holistic beauty solutions. In his presentation he emphasized beauty and grooming for women and men, from head to toe, from Safeguard bar soap to Olay ProX, and from Cover Girl to Dolce & Gabbana.
 

“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.

“Everyone was affected by the economic crisis and this taught us to focus on value. Consumers became more value conscious. Brands are trust marks, and while people did try private label brands, research has shown that they’re coming back to trusted brands that deliver on a promise,” said Shirley.
 
“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.
 
Shirley also announced that P&G is now rolling out a prestige color cosmetics line, citing the complementarity between P&G’s prestige brand, Dolce & Gabbana, and the new prestige color cosmetics line.
 
“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

When asked to comment on the role of innovation beyond products, Shirley responded, “Innovation is the lifeblood of the industry. It is still a critical driver of growth. However, we are still so focused on new and keep launching, that we can end up choking the shelves. We’re trying to change the model from ‘launch and leave,’ to ‘launch and leverage,’ so you present your products in a meaningful way.
 
“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.
 
Shirley also had advice for small brands, saying, “If it’s a really big idea, come talk to us.”

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.”


Communication and Distribution
“We’re launching products months before they are actually on the shelves, and we launched the Old Spice Smell Like a Man campaign months before to bloggers,” he said, adding that the Old Spice site is now number two in commercial views on You Tube. “We trusted the brand and our agency partners to put ourselves out there,” said Shirley.

“During the recent economic crisis we saw consumers increasing their channels of purchase. Our guiding principle is we want to be available where consumers are going to present our brands and create a brand experience, and I think the Internet provides much more flexibility for communication, as well as a ‘click down’ capability, and ‘buy me now’ ability,” he added.

Leadership Style
In addition to a 31-year career spent mostly at Gillette, and now with P&G, Shirley, who has a sports background, clearly enjoys the game.
 
“I love the game and I love the competition. I just felt we could be a better company after the acquisition of Gillette. I played to win. I didn’t play not to lose. That’s one aspect that has served me well. Play hard and play to win, and play to win collaboratively. You can have disagreements, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it. It’s about seeing possibilities and in this world it’s more important to work collaboratively. It’s so much more fun then standing around stating all the reasons something can’t be done,” he said.
 
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.
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