We lowered prices. That didn’t work, so now we’re raising them

Friday, 3 August 2018


But if that doesn’t work, we might discount more.

It’s hard to believe this is P&G, once the most admired branded consumer goods producer. Growth in sales through Amazon, and exposure to ripe-for-disintermediation categories like diapers, seem to have led P&G into the trap of believing that they sell nothing more than a commodity product. And the stress of quarterly reporting seems to have scared even this consumer giant into short-term changes of tack rather than fundamentally searching for ways to reinvent the game.

Apple completely renews its products every year, and is always deploying the majority of resources of the company to imagining the product after the next one, and the product after that.  Meanwhile the CPG giants are tweaking 50-year old brands.

Innovation is increasingly found in small, independent, often direct-to-consumer brands, with no infrastructure to defend and no cannibalisation to fret over. Economies of scale have disappeared or even reversed.

CPG giants are not going to incrementalise their way to success. Maybe they can rely on using their cashflow to buy start-up brands rather than innovate in house. But their track record of nurturing and retaining the spark of innovation is weak.

Historically no competitor invested as much or was as agile as P&G. Investors will be watching closely.

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