Tide Pods

Innovation: Good Things Come in Small Packages

Oct. 17, 2012
With Tide Pods, P&G aims to create an 'irresistible experience' - for consumers and shareholders.

For Phil Duncan, global design officer for Procter & Gamble Co. (IW 500/11), innovation in its simplest form is "putting together what is known with something that is unknown."

"It's about connecting context—the ‘what is it?'—with ‘wow, I didn't know it would do that,' and wrapping it all in an irresistible experience," Duncan explained earlier this year at the Front End of Innovation Conference in Orlando, Fla.

See Also: Manufacturing Innovation & Product Development Strategy

Duncan, a 20-year veteran of Cincinnati-based P&G, has seen that conception come to life with the recent launch of Tide Pods.

"We all knew that the liquid aspect of our laundry experience—while really good—had a few opportunities [for improvement], as we like to say," Duncan noted. ..."That was a less-than-ideal consumer experience."

Introduced in February, Tide Pods are tiny pre-measured packages of liquid laundry detergent—sold in a bag or plastic fishbowl-shaped container—that can be dropped in the wash.

Duncan said it was clear from early customer trials that "this unique dosage device" dramatically changes the way consumers interact with laundry detergent—for the better.

"They were touching it, holding it, delighting in it," Duncan said. "Whereas before it was kind of a removed element that you poured out of a bottle or out of a scoop."

Tide Pods come out of what CEO Robert McDonald calls "an increasingly promising pipeline of category- and brand-creating innovations," which P&G hopes will turn the tide of lackluster growth in recent years.

"Some of our fastest periods of growth—and some of our largest and most profitable present-day businesses—were driven by discontinuous innovation: disposable diapers, liquid laundry detergents, home-care items like Swiffer and Febreze," McDonald says in P&G's 2012 annual report. "We need to get back to this level of innovation in a meaningful way."

About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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