P&G throws stones in glass houses

It’s a bit rich of Procter &Gamble’s managing director Paul Polman to berate brand managers for “negligent pursuit of SKU proliferation”, in Alan Mitchell’s column (MW November 8). When a company that has four, almost identical brands (Ariel, Daz, Bold and Fairy) in dozens of variants, accuses them of “choking precious shelf space and confusing consumers with meaningless choice”, it’s time to ask it to put its own house in order before pontificating. If it wants less SKUs it should try cutting its own portfolio.

He goes on to talk about these practices adding costs at all stages of the supply chain and continues deriding manufacturers for “unleashing a tidal wave of promotional activity”. What a cheek – it’s a fact that consumers end up contributing the best part of 1 out of every 4.50 pack of washing powder to P&G’s advertising and promotion budget, thanks to its ruthless marketing and determination to remain the dominant brand in the detergent sector.

He also says, “grocery buyers have degraded consumer choice by selling numerous products that few people want”. That P&G has been unable to completely wipe out all its competition is no reason to knock the buyers, who are at least giving consumers a wider choice. When I ran Ecover in the UK some years ago, P&G tried to make it disappear, but Ecover hung on to its niche and still offers the consumer the valid choice of an environmental alternative. Imagine a world where there were no little guys to give the Goliaths a bloody nose now and then!

Come off it Paul, P&G is the number one exponent of almost everything you complain about. Perhaps you’re just being provocative, or maybe it’s another wheeze from the PR department. Whatever the reason, your comments are as unwelcome as they are hypocritical.

Robin Bines

Managing director

Full Moon Communications

Steyning

West Sussex

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