By  on November 30, 2012

It began with a bar of soap called Ivory.

Introduced in 1879, the lightweight, mild cleanser tackled everything from dirty floors to faces and set the stage for Procter & Gamble’s imminent rise in the beauty industry. “P&G has always been a company that asked consumers what they wanted,” said P&G corporate archivist, Lisa Mulvany, adding that Ivory was P&G’s first product to have its own brand name, advertising budget and in turn, loyal fan base. Introduced as a laundry soap, Ivory soon doubled as a personal cleansing product because of its mildness. In fact, Ivory’s first newspaper print ad showed two hands slicing a bar in half with a piece of string, as was typically done at the time to separate one piece for the laundry room and one for the powder room. The floating soap’s popularity lead P&G to, in 1926, delve further into the beauty world with Camay, the company’s first “beauty soap,” marketed toward “beautiful” women. “Women wanted more of a special bar soap to use only in the bath and they wanted it to smell and look pretty,” said Mulvany, noting that Camay soaps were available in a variety of colors and fragrances and brides were many times featured in the product’s advertising. “Women were becoming more sophisticated and more interested in personal care.”

Fast-forward to modern day: P&G is a multicategory, multichannel global beauty player, involved in the lives of about 4.4 billion people around the world. The Cincinnati-based company, which turned 175 this year, built its success in two primary ways, by leveraging its own internal technology and consumer insight and through a series of meaningful acquisitions that acted as a ladder into the upper reaches of the beauty industry. “We didn’t historically have many brands that people associated with beauty and so through acquisitions, we brought to brands our research and development and innovation pipeline as well as expertise in brand-building,” said Brent Miller, communications director, P&G Beauty and Grooming. “We also brought scale. We had the distribution, the sales force and infrastructure to make smaller brands grow.”

To be sure, one of P&G’s notable strengths is its cross-brand agility. Throughout its history, P&G shared its R&D resources among its brands, many times across categories. Take, for example, P&G’s foray into the hair market in 1934, in which the company borrowed technology from its soap division (specifically a detergent called Dreft), for its first nonsoap-based shampoo, Drene. “Because it was positioned as a synthetic it [promised] no soap scum, which was a problem at the time with existing shampoos,” said Mulvany. “This was a major point in our beauty history.” Drene led to additional P&G hair launches, generated from its internal labs, including Prell in 1946, Lilt Home Permanent in 1949, Ivory Shampoo in 1959 and Head & Shoulders in 1961. The idea for Head & Shoulders, according to Mulvany, dates back to about 1950, when P&G research determined that consumers were not completely satisfied with the then-existing antidandruff shampoos. After 10 years of research, a P&G scientist discovered that pyrithione zinc — the main ingredient in Head & Shoulders to this day — was effective at removing dandruff.


To continue reading this article...

To Read the Full Article

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus