How’s P&G using data and insights to innovate faster?

There's plenty of data available — but how's it distilling it down to really transform the lives of customers?
12 October 2018

How’s P&G using its data? Source: Shutterstock

In today’s day and age, FMCG companies collect a tonne of data about their customer. They have the means and the opportunity. However, the question is do they use it? And if they do, how do they use it?

Well, at Procter & Gamble (P&G), the company follows an “eye on the consumer, hands on the keyboard” approach — and it bets that the results will help it better understand the customer’s needs — quicker.

P&G Chief Analytics & Insights Officer Kirti Singh recently spoke at a conference said that the company is looking around the corner to create the next S curve for analytics and insights and find faster, better, and cheaper ways to reach the 5 billion people it serves around the world.

The analytics chief believes that the company has always had its eye on the consumer. Initially, the company learned about its customers by going from door to door. As time went on, the knowledge gained from those visits — and the evolution of those methods — became integral to nearly every decision the company made.

“We have embraced new ways to get close to consumers and do more ourselves. We’re innovating and experimenting, using today’s next-gen technology, big data, and the nuances of behavioral sciences to better understand our consumers’ behaviors, and the contexts that shape them,” said Singh.

The bit about behavioral science is something to pay attention to because customers often report behaviors that are different from their actual behaviors — because they either don’t have that much awareness about themselves or because they feel like saying things that they feel conform with what is expected from them.

Behavioral science suggests that attitude follows action, not the other way around. Hence, paying close attention to consumers helps spot excellent insights that can transform the lives of consumers — creating excellent value for the business.

It’s what creates breakthrough human insights and ideas that are a very, very critical part of developing successful marketing campaigns.

Two examples of innovations that emerged from more contextual studies of consumers’ behaviors and habits within the norms of their culture gave birth to Secret Freshies, recently launched in the US, and Japan’s Bold 3 chamber pods for laundry — both of which have evolved to become success stories in themselves.

However, the company believes that it’s time to return to a more DIY approach to analyzing data with an experimental and personally-invested mindset — rather than relying on what has become an over-complicated insight supply chain.

“We have made a radical departure from the days of direct contact with consumers, often relying on intermediaries to relay insights to us,” said Singh, before reaffirming the importance of the company’s partner network.

“We still need partners, but what we need from them is different today,” he concluded.

In order to gather insights quickly, the company is conducting research among moms and dads inside and outside the company — helping new product delivery and beta testing significantly.

The idea, the end goal for the company, is to get ahead of the vast amounts of data available to create real insights that can inform product development and distribution for the better.