Design Thought

P&G Translates Design Thinking Into A Competitive Advantage

Btn_squeezers_2A recent article in BRANDWEEK describes how P&G is using design to drive product performance and customer experience. This September, GAIN detergent joined the ranks of the company's billion dollar brands.

The increasingly competitive environment meant P&G had to focus more on product and design experience than ever before. Claudia Kotchka, VP design innovation and strategy, explains the concept this way "Obviously the product cleans fabulously, but this is all about joy. When consumers open the bottle, they like the smell. The bottle itself is much more whimsical. It's about taking the elements people wouldn't think are important and having them add up to the overall brand experience."

The GAIN website even incorporates storytelling into the online experience. In a section entitled "Freshies from the Heart," consumers are invited to share stories about their experiences with the brand. Participants are asked to choose between numerous story categories ranging from "joyful" to "fresh" and "scandalous."

Faced with rising commodity prices, executives were forced to find innovative ways to offset increasing costs. One way to separate their brands from those of their competitors was to incorporate design thinking at every level of the organization.

P&G puts its designers in business units throughout the company. They are involved at every stage of the game from R&D, to marketing and branding. Says Kotchka, "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."

The fact that design is now incorporated into the company's DNA means that their products will be more meaningful and useful to customers.

How do you feel about consumer products in general? Do you think many brands take good design into consideration? Do you think more companies should use an approach similar to P&G's?