I did this email interview with Procter & Gamble, Associate Director, External Business Development Kai Taubert. My questions are based on my latest book: ONE- A consumer revolution for business. I did base my questions around: Business people and consumers who have an interest in taking part in the positive change that now is growing in the business world.
Here are my five questions:
1. Can consumers suggest updates on products or even total new products for P&G?
– Absolutely. There is a place on pg.com for consumers to submit suggestions. That, however, is completely different from Connect + Develop (C+D). C+D is about finding solutions – existing property – to meet P&G’s needs. We are looking for companies or innovators with patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc – someone who ‘owns’ something. You can’t own an idea, so if you have a great suggestion, but haven’t developed it and protected your rights, there is no basis for a business transaction. We’re looking for technologies, products, packaging, designs, business models, processes, etc that have already demonstrated success and are, possibly, in the market someplace on a smaller scale.
2. Intel and other companies are now paying consumers for their ideas are P&G doing or planning to do the same? And if so can you give a short example on how this could work?
I don’t know about Intel’s situation. The challenge on paying for an idea is…how much is it worth? P&G has 9,000 researchers globally, including 1,500 PhDs. We’re constantly innovating. If you have an idea, a thought, it’s highly likely we’ve already considered it ourselves. To take an idea, invest behind it, develop and evaluate it, and test it with consumers – all of that is very expensive. Then you have several years with the product in market before you make money. So paying for ideas is not what Connect + Develop is about. We are looking for solutions. We have a list of “needs” – that’s the strategic side of it – that we are specifically looking for. We also believe in serendipity. That’s how we found the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This was a product on the market in Japan, and we now have the rights for it in North America and Europe.
3. How important for P&G is “the king” (the consumers), when you’re working inside P&G?
At P&G, we have a saying: “the consumer is boss.” We are constantly listening to the boss, learning from her. If you were to take all of our consumer researchers and make them into a separate company, it would likely be the largest consumer research company in the world. Everything we do is centered around the consumer, and Connect + Develop is no exception. C+D is about bringing life-changing products to market, faster, at better value, to improve consumers’ lives.
4. Are P&G working as ONE with the consumers so they feel as they are inside your brands? If so can you give some examples?
We are a company of brands. Each of our brands is run as an individual business. Each brand conducts independent research with consumers. Because our brands are so diverse, it doesn’t make much sense to have the same consumer advising us on Pampers nappies and on Head & Shoulders. Each brand is unique. Plus, we don’t want each brand relying on the same core individuals for consultation because that’s how you become institutionalized. The simple answer to your question is that consumers are very involved in our brand development, and we value their feedback and perspective. They are our boss!
5. Do you head hunt the best innovative consumers to come and work for P&G?
We do not, to my knowledge, head hunt for consumers. We look for a rounded group of individuals who are open to new ideas and concepts.
Thanks to Kai Taubert for answers my questions and open the door for consumers.