P&G's Future Friendly tackles imminent opportunities

CINCINNATI Since launching a full media platform for its multibrand Future Friendly program in the spring, Procter & Gamble has made a significant impact among both retailers and mainstream consumers looking to save energy and reduce waste. Now the manufacturer is looking to expand the initiative even further in 2011.

Phase one of Future Friendly focused on how washing in cold water with a detergent formulated for that application -- like Tide Coldwater -- can conserve energy and help consumers reduce their utility bills. Now, phase two of the platform is taking aim at powder detergent carton sizes, targeting a reduction in packaging materials, as well as truck and fuel usage.

"Future Friendly has already proven itself to be a great platform for not only P&G but for our customers to offer an opportunity for them to do their part with regard to the environment without having to sacrifice price or quality," said Eric Forsyth, of P&G customer business development, during an online media briefing Thursday morning. "As excited as we are about what we've done in the past, we are equally as excited about where we are going in the future with Future Friendly."

Future Friendly is an educational platform designed to help educate consumers on how to use leading P&G products, such as Tide, Pampers, PUR and Duracell, to achieve savings in water, waste and energy.

Serving as the underpinnings, and helping to shape the initiative, is P&G research that found many consumers are interested in buying products with an environmental benefit but they are not likely to trade up in price or to sacrifice product performance or value.

Earlier this year, P&G deployed a full media platform, and consumers started seeing Future Friendly-labeled products -- which, in total, represent about $6 billion in sales -- on store shelves in April. Since the launch, the efforts of this major initiative have been significant, with incremental displays in more than 16,000 retail locations, 2.7 billion media impressions and a 5% boost in corporate favorability and trustworthiness. In addition, participating retailers have experienced a more than 3% growth in the average basket size, according to P&G.

Now, the manufacturer is looking to go even bigger and take Future Friendly to the next level. For the next phase of Future Friendly, P&G is tackling its powder cartons and will be compacting the cartons by 33%, effective February 2011. "All of which, combined, will help us deliver some significant environmental savings, not only from a packaging perspective but also from a logistics perspective," Forsyth said.

By compacting the cartons, and enhancing the formulas of both Tide and Gain, P&G estimated the results will mean up to a 28% reduction in corrugate (or 68 million sq. ft. of cardboard); about 6% (or 5,900) fewer trucks on the road; and a 5% to 8% reduction in fuel use (or 890,000 fewer gallons of diesel fuel). As it stands, the powder business is $1.7 billion strong and represents about 20% of the entire $8 billion laundry category. With this next phase of Future Friendly, P&G expected to drive powder growth between 2.5% and 4%, which will translate into an increase in top-line sales of between $43 million and $68 million.

This initiative will take place in one wave across the United States and Canada. Beginning in April, consumers will see Future Friendly stickers across some of the powder cartons, and retailers will be able to leverage in-store tools, such as shelf-talkers with the Future Friendly messaging.

P&G will continue to drive consumer awareness through, for example, its P&G brandSAVER coupon book and a partnership with National Geographic's in-school conservation education program called Find Your Footprint. P&G noted that it has beefed up its marketing spend compared with a year ago, and will continue to engage consumers through such social media as Facebook and Twitter to further promote the initiative and educate consumers on Future Friendly.

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