In the 178 years Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been doing business, it has built a legacy on its recognisable brands because it has been willing to change everything but its purpose and values.
Holding billion-dollar brands like Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Gillette, Oral-B, and Pampers, P&G finished 2015 with net sales of US$70.7 billion and 2 per cent organic sales growth. While these figures are important to P&G, it is also concerned with the number of people it reaches through its products — and how many of those people’s lives have been improved by its products.
P&G products reach around 4.4 billion consumers in more than 180 countries, so there’s a great deal of opportunity for the talented people at P&G to make a genuine difference in the world. This attracts some of the most innovative minds in research and development, management, and sales and marketing.
Innovative products, inspired employees
Along with P&G’s strong culture of philanthropy, which started back in 1888, the company is uncompromising when it comes to the quality of its brands. Europe alone has approximately 50 market-leading brands and 20 of those brands individually produce more than US$1 billion in annual global sales. Across Europe, more than 37,000 employees, including about 3,000 scientists and engineers working in eight innovation centres, research, create, and produce household products that make lives better.
Gary Coombe, President, Europe Selling & Market Operations, believes that P&G’s team are proud of the company’s products and are engaged with its purpose, and that this is why P&G has been able to achieve where other consumer goods companies have failed.
“We have an ability to embrace transformation and be agile. We are a big company — the biggest consumer goods company — but we are also very agile and over our rich 175-year history, we are still here and still growing because we have been able to transform ourselves, respond to external environments, create a new future, and change quickly when we need to. It’s really important that you do that to win,” says Gary.
Hiring for success and succession
Glassdoor UK, LinkedIn, CNN Money and others have named P&G in their top employers lists and Gary says this is because the company chooses its diverse and talented staff wisely and treats its people exceptionally well.
“Globally we have about 3,000 management jobs every year for which we get about 1 million graduate applications. We are a company of choice for the leading graduates around the world and we are highly selective in our recruitment,” Gary says.
“We pick great people and we principally promote from within as our source of management. We grow our own talent. We invest deeply in their development so we have a talent base which is unrivaled. We have also made it a priority to ensure we have a gender diverse talent base, which is unrivaled. At most management levels, we now have 50 per cent female managers. We are proud of that and it’s important to us.”
Distribution in an expanding digital world
Building long term, collaborative partnerships with suppliers and distributors is also important to the P&G business model. “We bring marketing, finance, IT, product supply resources to help our retail partners so we can create programs to grow value together. It’s very, very important to move beyond transactional relationships to value creating relationships,” says Gary.
Across Europe I use about 80 distributors. It is an important part of our business model and some of those distributor partnerships have been around for decades — 30–40 years — nand progressively more important are the partnerships we build in the digital world. We work very closely with Amazon and they are a key customer but they are also co-innovative with us, thinking about how we innovate in the e-commerce space. Google is another, obviously digital marketing and search is a big part of a brand’s marketing program now. We don’t just use Google as a marketing platform, we have a partnership with Google and we work collaboratively with them to grow value in that space and innovating that space.