HOW P&G TRIPLED ITS INNOVATION SUCCESS RATE HBR.ORG
tions reframe existing categories.
They typically bring order-of-magnitude
improvements and fundamental
changes to a business and often lead
to breakthroughs in market share,
profit levels, and consumer acceptance. In 2009 P&G introduced the
wrinkle-reducing cream Olay Pro-X.
Launching a $40-a-bottle product in
the depths of a recession might seem
a questionable strategy. But P&G
went ahead because it considered the
product a transformational-sustaining
innovation—clinically proven to be as
effective as its much more expensive
prescription counterparts, and superior to the company’s other antiaging
offerings. The cream and related
products generated first-year sales
of $50 million in U.S. food retailers
and drugstores alone.
Disruptive innovations represent new-to-the-world business opportunities.
A company enters entirely new businesses with radically new offerings,
as P&G did with Swiffer and Febreze.
Running the Factory
Let’s return now to Tide, whose dramatic growth
highlights the potential of P&G’s approach. Over the
past decade the brand has launched numerous products and product-line extensions, carved new paths
in emerging markets, and tested a promising new
If you had looked for Tide in a U.S. supermarket
10 years ago, you would have found, for the most
part, ordinary bottles and boxes of detergent. Now
you’ll see the Tide name on dozens of products, all
with different scents and capabilities. For example,
in 2009 P&G introduced a line of laundry additives
called Tide Stain Release. Within a year, building
on 26 patents, it incorporated these additives into a
sible to 70% of Indian consumers and has helped to
significantly increase Tide’s share in India.
Tide Dry Cleaners is a factory innovation that
represents an entirely new business model.
new detergent, Tide with Acti-Lift—the first major
redesign of Tide’s liquid laundry detergent in a decade. The product’s launch drove immediate market-share growth of the Tide brand in the United States.
P&G has also customized formulations for emerg-
ing markets. Ethnographic research showed that
about 80% of consumers in India wash their clothes
by hand. They had to choose between detergents that
were relatively gentle on the skin but not very good
at actually cleaning clothes, and more-potent but
harsher agents. With the problem clearly identified,
in 2009 a team came up with Tide Naturals, which
cleaned well without causing irritation. Mindful of
the need in emerging markets to provide greater
benefit at lower cost—“more for less”—P&G priced
Tide Naturals 30% below comparably effective but
harsher products. This made the Tide brand acces-
tests helped the company understand how consum-
ers would buy and use the products, which P&G then
began selling exclusively through Amazon and other
online channels. In early 2011 the company ramped
down its promotion of Swash, although learning
from the effort will inform its work on other disrup-
tive ideas in the clothes-refreshing space.