P&G is launching its revamped Pantene line with new formulas, new packaging and a streamlined SKU line-up. That sounds smart to me on all fronts. I’m looking forward to seeing it, and trying it first hand!
Having been involved with major retailers to develop licensed, salon-brand, hair care products designed to take share from Pantene, I’m close to this category and think that the revamp is a great move for P&G. The scaling down of the SKU count (to only 166 items) is long overdue. Brand extension over-proliferation has created consumer confusion in a lot of CPG categories.
Have you tried to find that tube of toothpaste that you liked recently? You know….the one with the tartar control, breath freshening, bacteria fighting, whitening formula, and spearmint flavor in the jumbo-sized pump dispenser with a motion detector audio chip that reminds you to brush your gums carefully and floss regularly? Or your favorite “Original” Wheat Thins?
The need to pare down SKU’s makes consumer sense, but it’s also in response to the universal trend of retailers doing a better job with their own SKU rationalization efforts – partially to make room for their own exclusive brands.
Back to Pantene – there is no reason why they shouldn’t have THE very best products on the market. There is no better consumer research and product R&D organization on the planet than P&G. They claim to have tested more than 600 new Pantene formulations with 20,000 women worldwide, and to be using “an atomic force microscope, similar to one used on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, and micro-computed tomography, used to measure bone density, (sic) to reveal how ingredients interact with different hair types.” This points to an opportunity for the formulators and manufacturers of private label products to step up and really invest in sophisticated product development efforts in order to truly deliver “national brand better” products. There is no question that private label quality is getting better all the time, but there is a long way to go to compete with the efforts of international leaders like P&G, Unilever, Kraft and Nestle.