Marketing Research at P&G

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG075
Case Length : 12 Pages
Period : 2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : P & G
Industry : FMCG
Countries : USA

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Introduction Contd...

Market research is still a foremost tool for understanding consumers' needs for P&G."3 P&G used qualitative research tools, such as focus groups, in-house visits, in-context visits and in-store interviews, and quantitative research tools like blind tests, concept tests, and so on.

The company also hired external agencies to conduct MR. In recent years, P&G used the Internet as a medium for research and, in the process, achieved significant savings of cost and time. Commenting on the benefits of the Internet, Barbara B. Lindsey, director of P&G's consumer research services and new-technologies group, said, "It can save you a whole lot of time and a whole lot of money."4

It has also helped P&G to reduce its reliance on external research agencies. According to the 2001 figures,5 every year P&G spent an estimated $150 million on more than 6,000 surveys, half of which were conducted in the US.

Commenting on the importance the company attached to MR, an employee in its market research department said, "They really believe in (research). They do not just do it as a routine thing; they do it with genuine interest in finding out. They're really curious. They believe in the results; then they act on (that belief)."6

Background Note

Procter & Gamble was established in 1837 when candle maker, William Procter and his brother-in-law, soap maker, James Gamble merged their small businesses. They set up a shop in Cincinnati and nicknamed it "Porkopolis" because of its dependence on swine slaughterhouses.

The shop made candles and soaps from the leftover fats. From its inception, P&G sought product response from consumers in the form of complaints or suggestions. This feedback was given serious attention and the company incorporated the required changes.

In one particular instance, in 1879, an 'Ivory' brand soap machine operator discovered that due to over-stirring, the soap floated on water. The consignment of Ivory 'floating soaps' was dispatched soon. P&G received appreciative comments from consumers and within a month, it had modified its production process so that the entire range of its 'Ivory' brand soap had this unique feature...

Excerpts >>

3] As quoted in the article, "Successful Story from P&G," by Alexander Sosnin, posted on, February 21, 2002.

4] As quoted in the article, "Information Please", by Michael Totty, posted on the Wall Street Journal, dated October 29, 2001.

5] As reported in the article, "Proctor & Gamble Readies Online Market-Research Push," by Christopher T. Heun, InformationWeek, dated October 15, 2001.

6] As quoted in the book, "P&G 99: 99 Principles and Practices of Procter and Gamble's Success," by Charles Decker, page 17, Harper Collins Business, 1998.


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