Procter & Gamble spent $200m marketing a razor – and then beards become hip

Can having one of the world’s most innovative supply chains help Procter & Gamble defeat rivals, adapt to discount chains and react to changing consumer preferences?

Last July, Procter & Gamble announced that David Taylor would replace AG Lafley as CEO – the third change at the top in six years at a business that was once a byword for stability. Within two days the Cincinnati-based company reported a 40% fall in profits for the year ended 30 June, with sales down 5% to $76.3bn. Some observers wondered if cracks had begun to appear in one of corporate America’s most polished facades. Yet the new man in charge had joined the business as a graduate in 1980, worked across the organisation – and alongside Lafley – so his appointment could be seen as a bid to combine change with continuity.

The sheer scale of P&G’s penetration of daily life bears witness to the company’s success since it was founded in 1837. The company estimates that people interact with its products around 2bn times a day, and that its products can be found in around 5bn of the world’s 7bn households. Its portfolio contains 21 billion-dollar brands, featuring such icons as Pampers, Vicks, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Fairy and Hugo Boss.

And how many companies can claim to have helped invent a new form of drama? P&G put the soap into soap opera, when its detergent Oxydol started sponsoring radio dramas in 1933. The question now, however, is: are the closing credits starting to roll on P&G’s golden era?

To read the rest of this article you need to sign in:
Don't have an account? Register here


Not a CIPS member? Why not join CIPS to access a full range of benefits, including:

  • Access all areas of the CIPS Knowledge on-line library including tools and templates and Supply Management stories.
  • Enhance your network and get connected to a global community of 120,000 in 150 countries.
  • Stay in touch and up to date through member only events and branch meetings.
  • Annual subscription to Supply Management magazine.
  • 10 per cent discount on all training courses, workshops, seminars and conferences.
  • Up to 15 per cent discount on books from the CIPS book store, including course books and a range of further reading text books.

And much more. Click here to join >

Central London and Cheltenham
Salaries: Central London: £38,656 - £43,186/Cheltenham: £35,736 - £40,011
Central London and Cheltenham
Salaries: Central London: £48,305 - £56,163/Cheltenham: £45,341 - £53,023
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates