OK, so I’m a few months behind on some of my reading, I admit it.
This Harvard blog post by Rosabeth Kanter on P&G describes some of the stories from P&G’s journey to mainstreaming sustainability into their business.
Here’s one of the best bits from it, described in more detail in her new book:
“Ten years ago, P&G’s business was dying; employees feared a shutdown. The fastest growing segment of the population was low-income consumers, but P&G’s global premium products were not a match. Local teams, taking the purpose and values seriously, felt that they were not improving lives because families were using cheap inferior products or nothing, e.g., still using tedious processes such as washing cloth diapers by hand that kept some family members out of the work force. The team lived with families, scrutinized every P&G process, and created innovative products they dubbed basico (for “essential” in Portuguese). The team felt they were doing good for the world, not just making money for the company. Their strong sense of purpose propelled unprecedented collaboration across functions and with customers, for whom the excitement was captivating. (Blow-by-blow details can be found in my new book SuperCorp.)
When the first basico products were launched (women’s hygiene, diapers, and “greener” laundry detergent), demand immediately outpaced supply. They quickly captured market share through small neighborhood shops, substituting colorful store displays for costly TV advertising. Premium products were lifted too. The business in Brazil became a profitable global growth model, and not just for emerging countries. Tide Basic was recently introduced in the U.S.”