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Quick Note: Dinosaurs and Reborn Products

February 21, 2012

Today’s Quick Note discusses a very interesting Forbes.com article titled “Jurassic Park: How P&G Brought Febreze Back to Life.” Authored by Peter Cohan, the article compares the famous movie’s plot – bringing a dinosaur to life using DNA recovered from a fossil – to Proctor & Gamble’s efforts to salvage a failed product from the trash pile and turn it into a moneymaker.

Cohan recounts the failure of Febreze to gain traction in the cleaning product market. Cohan believes that P&G’s process of evaluating and re-branding Febreze is much like the one used by many start-up businesses. He describes the term “composting” in relation to this process: “You can read more about their stories by following the links, but the basic idea is that start-ups excel at failing fast and doing what’s dubbed, composting, to use the analysis of the failures to provide the intellectual nutrition required to propel the start-up to an eventual discovery of a workable solution.” [all italics are added by, and show quotations from the article]

So how does this apply to Febreze? Cohan tells us “What P&G discovered — after a failure from which it learned — was that its original approach to marketing Febreze was wrong because that approach required consumers to change their habits. When P&G ultimately discovered a way to make Febreze part of an existing routine, sales exploded.

In fact, the marketing was so successful that “within two months of the summer 1998 marketing revamp, Febreze sales doubled. By 1999, Febreze revenues totalled $230 million. Since then Febreze has introduced spinoffs that account for over $1 billion in annual sales.”

This is a very interesting article, and contains some very useful business lessons. I highly recommend the article for anyone with an interest in business, marketing, entrepreneurship or other cool business topics. Cohan concludes his piece with this interesting perspective: “It’s unfair to liken P&G to an extinct dinosaur brought back to life by a miracle of science. But one of the reasons that P&G has been able to survive for so long is that it has found a way to inject the DNA of a start-up into the corporate genetic code of a 175 year old giant.

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From → Business, Innovation

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