Innovation key to future success, claims P&G’s Irwin

Lee: innovation is key

Innovation will be key to creating a brighter future, according to Procter & Gamble (P&G) vice president, Irwin Lee.

Speaking at the 2010 IGD Convention, Lee said retailers and suppliers had risen to the challenges of the economic downturn and must persist.

“We can dig ourselves out of recession or we can talk ourselves back into a double dip,” he said. “I want to argue that, we can build the future with the belief, the knowledge, that we can shape what happens today.”

Lee said innovation had been key at P&G and will continue to shape its future. Connecting with consumers in new ways will also be key and collaborating for the consumer’s best interest on the 2012 London Olympics will be a powerful goal.

Lee highlighted P&G product development in recession including laundry gels (now 15% of the market), Febreze air fresheners, Olay Regenerist 3-point cream and Nice n’Easy Perfect 10 hair colour.

Lee said P&G would continue to innovate and cited launches in its Pampers nappy range, including Pampers Dry Max; and Ariel Actilift and Ariel Stain Remover in laundry care.

Lee said technology was shaping how it reached its customers with developments in digital, mobile and social media bringing new opportunities.

“We can engage and entertain consumers in a far more interactive and flexible fashion,” he said. “And, you know what? It’s fun. This is the future and we are part of it.”

Lee presented P&G’s advertisement for Old Spice, which was launched in the US but generated a global ripple effect. It accrued more than 45m online views and because it was widely talked about on Facebook and Twitter, the ‘Old Spice man’ began answering questions with personalised video responses that were posted instantly online.

Lee stressed using new media had not killed off traditional forms and TV was still important for reaching a mass audience, he said.

P&G’s campaign for Gillette Fusion Pro Glide, for example, launched on TV but subsequently went viral passing through word of mouth, blogs, online, print and back to TV with news pick up.

“Technology is helping us better innovate and connect with the consumer,” said Lee. However, suppliers and retailers need to continue to collaborate to benefit shoppers, he said, and cited P&G’s shopper research facility as a prime example of co-operation with retail partners.

The 2012 Olympic Games present a huge opportunity for collaboration, he said. P&G is the newest global sponsor with the International Olympic Committee.

“We want to work with all our industry partners, on the road to 2012, to make it the best Olympic Game experience for London, for the UK and and for our industry,” he said.