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P&G’s Marc Pritchard: The 5 Business Paradigms That Need Shifting

P&G is embedding sustainability into how it does business and using its big brands as a force for good. | Image credit: P&G

In recent conversation with Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, we spent our time talking about shifting out from old paradigms and models, to create new frameworks for building brands and advancing sustainability. Here are Pritchard’s top five paradigms to shift:

1. The ‘old brand building’ paradigm:

We are working on reinventing brand building as we know it. The world is in a state of massive disruption — changing consumers, use of data and digital technology, development in AI, just to name a few. So, the best way to handle these disruptive forces is to lead disruption. That’s why we’re rethinking media, advertising, our agency partners, and our roles as marketers. We are reimagining and re-engineering across the entire marketing ecosystem to lead the way into the future, because in many ways, it’s already here.

2. The ‘grow the market to ensure success’ paradigm:

The best way to grow a brand is to grow the market. For years, taking market share from competitors was nearly the only measure of success. But in our industry, more than 90 percent of growth comes from market growth. Of course, we still want to build market share, but the better thing to do is to take actions to grow the market. That’s why we use our brand’s voices in advertising to promote gender equality. Let me use an example to explain: It’s outrageous that women are still paid 20 percent less than men for the same job. If we could close the economic gender gap, McKinsey estimates it would add $28 trillion to the world economy — that’s a lot of purchasing power to grow the market. Gender inequality is driven by gender bias. The images portrayed in advertising affect gender bias, so if we can do our part in eliminating that bias, and it helps drive economic equality, that can in turn drive market growth — and that growth is a rising tide that lifts all boats, ours included.

3. The ‘corporate giving’ paradigm:

Mark Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, will be speaking at SB'18 Vancouver on Responsible Consumption and Embedding Purpose. Join us!

Corporate giving and philanthropy is important to doing good for people and the world, but it’s not enough. A decade ago that was the only model — business made money and then ‘gave back’ a portion to their communities or to help advance environmental and social causes. While worthy, the impact was limited because doing good was an ‘add-on’ — do business first, then do good elsewhere. At P&G, our CEO made a choice to embed doing good into how we do business every day; he calls it ‘built in’ versus ‘bolted on.’ This is one of the reasons we work with Sustainable Brands — because they get it and promote it, because it’s a way to generate broader positive change. They are helping us recognize more ways we can ‘use our positive power’ to have a bigger positive impact.

4. The ‘big business cannot be good’ paradigm:

In our new paradigm, business can be a force for good and a force for growth precisely because our brands are big. Our 65 brands reach 5 billion people a day, and by building social and environmental sustainability into how brands do business, they can have a positive impact well beyond corporate giving. And it turns out, the brands that focus on delivering positive impacts — like Always’ #LikeAGirl, Tide purcleanTM, and Head & Shouldersrecycled beach plastic bottles — are growing. What it requires is that they solve problems that matter and do so in a way that’s authentic for the brand. It requires accepting responsibility to be a good citizen because we reach so many people. And it requires good people. Too often big business is vilified, but it’s important to remember that these companies and brands are made up of people — like Michelle, who led the #LikeAGirl movement; and Lisa, who had the courage to lead turning beach plastic into a bottle. Good people with good intentions are what matters, and when they are on a big brand, they can have a big impact.

5. The ‘offering green products to green consumers’ paradigm:

The old paradigm considers ‘green products’ as a ‘niche,’ but that thinking won’t help save our planet — because climate change, for example, is not a ‘niche’ problem. And most consumers don’t like that they often must accept lower performance on these products. So, we’ve conducted rigorous assessments of our entire business ecosystem to see how we could make a positive environmental impact every day, with no performance trade-offs. For example, our manufacturing plants committed to make our products with zero waste to landfill by 2020, and 85 percent have already achieved that. We have a wind farm in Texas that powers 100 percent of the electricity for our Fabric and Home Care manufacturing plants in the US and Canada. Our goal is to get to 100 percent renewable electricity in North America by 2020 and worldwide by 2030. We’re innovating to develop sustainable products using plant-based ingredients such as cotton, for brands like Pampers and Tampax. Our ambition is to have a positive environmental impact simply by using our brands, because using them is not simply ‘consumption,’ but ‘responsible consumption’ — a new paradigm.

What will you be talking about at SB’18 Vancouver?

All of the above — and I’ll describe both ‘what’ we do, and ‘how’ we’re doing it. That’s the challenge: moving beyond talking about sustainability into consistently doing something about it — changing paradigms to take action for impact. I think there are some lessons that others may find helpful. For example, we keep one central question in mind — ‘What If?’ — and this question pushes us to innovate and find solutions that we could not have imagined before. By sharing our challenges and actions, I hope the audience will find ideas and approaches to apply in their own organizations. We want to be a force for good and a force for growth; and sharing what we’ve learned so far with others is consistent with that, because if we all take action, we can accelerate the positive impact on the world.


Etienne is a marketing strategist, writer, and coach. With more than 20 years of global brand management and marketing experience Etienne has extensive knowledge in building both mainstream consumer brands and eco labels. Etienne founded her company ‘Possible’ in 2015.… [Read more about Etienne White]


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