Thursday, September 24, 2009

P&G lead by example in engaging constructively: Ariel's facts and figures

Recently I posted some thoughts based on a case study that questioned the practices of P&G which stood accused of trying to fool customers by falsely stating that the new bottle type of Ariel contained "10% more product" (tan the previous type of bottle presumably). 

Much to my surprise, I got an answer from somebody working for P&G who reacted within just a couple of hours and that's quite impressive since this blog has never been about building audience or making noise and is therefore not particularly influential. I'm absolutely WOWed by P&G ability to monitor online resources and take reasonable action on any alerts and that's the kind of defensive marketing tactics modern brand management should always feature. More often than not that's not the case.

In this post there's a quick analysis of the facts provided by P&G, which infirm the assertions of the presentation although they do not necessarily prove the accuracy of the "+10%" claim, which I'd rate as "almost true" or "true enough" if I were to run the "truth-o-meter". Naturally that means there is no reason to state that P&G is fooling their customers and the very fact that they engaged in a discussion with this blog shows that they're treating online sources and people out there in a very respectful manner.

First let me give you a copy of P&G's reply, which I found very well formulated, very factual and showing great respect for a very humble blogger without any influence whatsoever. To respect privacy I'm witholding the name and details of the author of the reply:

 Dear Alex,

I’m working for Ariel (P&G France) and I’m regularly looking, thanks to a Google alert, what is said on the web about the brand. That”s how I’ve found a post you made on your blog and on about the “Ariel and the mathematics” French power point presentation. I also read your post titled “No you cannot fool your customers P&G... or whoever else”.

I’m kindly writing to you to draw your attention on the fact that the data in the presentation are wrong. The author of the presentation, who lives in Germany, has already acknowledged his mistake, distances himself from the content of the presentation and regrets having circulated it.

What has happened?

The author of the presentation did not compare the Ariel bottle from 2009 (+10% more content; 1.4L content equalling 20 wash loads) with the real predecessor from 2008(1.26L content equalling 18 wash loads), but with an older bottle from 2005 (1.5L content equalling 20 wash loads), that he found in his house.  

The compared Ariel bottles origin from different years and during those years we have launched several new product generations. According to the production code the featured old bottle was produced in the year 2005, the new product is from 2009. Our products are constantly improved to fulfil the increased consumer needs. In comparison to the product of the year 2005, new Ariel liquid 2009 offers a formula that has been constantly improved over five years, plus it offers an improved washing result by an even lower dosage per wash load (now 70mL per wash load versus for example 75mL still in 2005). This can be seen on the dosage instructions on the back of the bottle.

We hope we could clarify the misunderstanding with this statement and we would really appreciate if you could post this statement online or if you could delete the initial post itself.

Of course, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for more information.

Best regards,

Now to translate the content's of P&G response into dry facts and figures I created the table below to try to assess the actual impact of changes to Ariel's bottling in terms of effective quantity of product provided to consumers. Since we do not have any idea of the evolution of the product's price in inflation adjusted terms we cannot say whether the 2009 bottling is a better deal or not, but depending on whether they could actually do 18 or 20 (18+2) wash loads with one bottle the effective quantity purchased could either be a real increase of 11.1% or an unchanged situation, but it is in no case a decrease of 5% to 7% in quantity provided as shown in the presentation:

Needless to say I'm very impressed that P&G was able to spot the post within only a few hours from its publication, that their response was so swift and effective and I can see why they've been so good at building world class super valuable brands: Ariel is #84 and worth close to 7.8 billion USD in the 2009 top 100 and Pampers is ranked #31 and valued at 18.8 billion USD. For your convenience I'm embedding the ranking of top 100 brands below:

Global top 100 Brands 2009 -

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