“Looking at design as part of the total customer experience is critical.” — Claudia Kotchka, VP Design Innovation & Strategy, P&G
As the president of a design firm, who wholeheartedly agrees that product and package design play a vital role in creating customer experiences, a recent article in ADWEEK really hit the mark.
Check out “Product Experience Drives Performance” to get a birds-eye view of the inner workings of the world’s largest consumer product company. This is a terrific interview between ADWEEK editor-at-large Noreen O’Leary and Claudia Kotchka.
The upshot of the article: Consumer product giant P&G has gone from being a company that looked at product performance first, to paying attention to product experience first. More interestingly, P&G has focused on designing the consumer’s experiences at every touch point.
A decade ago, the consumer product giant employed 30 staff designers; today they employ about 250. But that doesn’t mean the company can’t hire any outside design consultancies. It can and it does. Not only that: Procter & Gamble also hires designers from all over the world to gain new cultural perspectives… important for a global company.
Interestingly, most of the designers at P&G have been recruited from outside of the company; an unusual practice for a company that always prided itself on growing its own home-grown talent. The best part? “Design at P&G is not a centralized function”, stated Ms. Kotchka in the article.
She went on to say that: “All of the designers are in the business units. We have them sitting with our R&D working on innovation from the beginning, sitting with our marketing folks, working on branding from the beginning. That’s a big change from the historical approach of handing it over the wall at the end. . .Looking at design as part of the total consumer experience is critical.”
This new “designing of the total customer experience” mentality at P&G was a directive from the top. As soon as A.G. Lafley was appointed CEO, around the beginning of this decade, this became the new mandate at P&G. The article states that: ‘Lafley has set out to make P&G as much about design as technology or price point’.
Translating all of this: P&G’s push to put a new design approach to product and packaging for its Gain laundry detergent line in February 2006 has led to the company’s recent announcement that Gain had joined the company’s roster of billion dollar brands. Likewise, last year’s relaunch of the Herbal Essences hair care brand, has paid huge dividends. Herbal Essences is now the #3 hair care brand in the country.
What do you think of P&G’s approach of making every single product and packaging component part of an overall design experience for the consumer?
Do you think this approach gives Procter & Gamble the edge over its competitors? I’d love to hear from you.