For many decades, Procter & Gamble has been the leading consumer products company in the world. (Today, it battles Unilever for global supremacy.) Among P&G’s best-known brands are Bounty, Charmin, Cover Girl, Crest, Duracell, Febreze, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Mr. Clean, Old Spice, Oral B, Pantene, Pepto-Bismal, Swiffer, Tide, and Vicks. The company originated the product manager system.

But, despite its market-leading position in many categories, product innovation is more challenging now. As Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Carol Hymowitz report for Businessweek:  “There’s been a dearth of pioneering brands emerging from the world’s largest consumer-products company. Spending on research and development in fiscal 2012 ended June 30 was $2.03 billion, or 2.4 percent of sales, the same as the prior year and down from 3 percent of sales in 2006. P&G’s most recent homegrown blockbusters — Swiffer cleaning devices, Crest Whitestrips, and Febreze odor fresheners — were all launched at least a decade ago. Says Peter Golder, a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College: ‘P&G is built on creating new categories, and innovation is in its DNA, but they need to rediscover it.’”

Read more by clicking the chart from Businessweek.

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