What’s that old saying about what to do when life hands you a lemon? Make lemonade?
Well, lots of people don’t like lemonade so maybe we should add another alternative: Get rid of the lemons and go out and get some new fruit.
And before you think I’ve been drinking something other than fruit juices, let me tell you about Procter & Gamble’s strategy for dealing with the Great Recession and the utter destruction its done to just about everyone’s businesses.
P&G has decided it’s not going to keep serving up the same lemonade. It has announced it is introducing an unprecedented number of new products over the next year.
In fact, it will introduce 30 percent more launches in its key product categories and markets than ever before.
And when it comes to P&G, we’re not just talking about a couple of tubes of new toothpaste. I have absolutely no idea exactly how many products the company makes, but it lists some 80 major brands on its Web site, from Braun to Bounce and from Tide to Tampax, so I’m thinking a couple of bazillion products probably isn’t too far off the mark.
The new top guy over there, Bob McDonald, told investors recently, “We are going to grow and we are going to be (at) the top of our peer group.” And he wasn’t kidding. There will be new Pantene hair care products, new Crest whitening products and a low-price detergent for India called Tide Naturals.
P&G is counting on all of this new product to fight its way out of the recession and to give people a reason to start buying stuff again.
Which takes us back to lemonade and the Housewares Show today. Sure, there are lots of new products on the show floor and some of them are probably really good and will drive sales. But did your company introduce 30 percent more new products than you did a year ago?
More importantly, is your store going to buy 30 percent more new product this week than you did at last year’s show?
All of those on either side of the buying equation who can answer yes, step forward and pat yourself on the back.
All the rest of you slackers, it’s time to get back to business plans for some serious rethinking.
Everyone always says it’s new product that drives the marketplace. It’s what vendors want to talk about, stores want to order and shoppers want to buy. So it only stands to reason that when times are tough, you need more that’s new to compensate for all that’s bad.
Do the math: It comes out to 30 percent.
Editor’s note: This column was originally printed in the Housewares Show Daily, March 16, 2010.