Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Where do I Look for New Opportunities?

I recently wrote about simple ways to look for new opportunities. I covered the HOW but not the WHERE. The "Where To Look" is far more complex than the "How To Look." But as an early mentor taught me, look to your strengths. Look at your assets. As he taught me, if the railroad people of the 1920s realized that they were in the transportation business and not the railroad business, they would be controlling the airline, trucking, and shipping business today. They, at the time, had the resources (think dollars) to control all the transportation business of the day.

I was fortunate to grow up with Procter & Gamble, a company that really started to grow about the time I started with them (1951). They utilized their knowledge of detergency to expand rapidly. When I started in 1951, Tide was about 5 years old. We think of Tide as a laundry detergent but a little known fact is that in 1951, Tide was the leading dishwashing detergent. In the19 50s, they used their detergency knowledge to introduce nine new brands to the market (Cheer, Gleem, Dash, Cascade, Crest, Comet, Ivory Liquid, and Mr. Clean). In the 1960s they used their knowledge to introduce six more brands (Head & Shoulders, Top Job, Safeguard, Bold, Gain, and Biz). The 1970s followed with nine new detergency products and the 1980s saw the introduction of 13 more new products grounded in detergency. Basically P&G did not look at their Oxydol business (1914) as a laundry business but as a cleaning business. They explored all areas pertaining to cleaning that they could think of. They even explored the commercial laundry and dry cleaning business. I was a part of a four member team headed up by Bob Cannon V.P. that looked into the potential of commercial laundries and dry cleaning establishments.

A point closer in time is Procter's adventure onto the pet food business where five years ago they purchased the Iams brand. It did not take them long to say we are not in the pet food business, we are in the pet care business. The result has been a stream of new foods aimed at pet health care, namely weight control formulas, antioxidant blends, and tarter fighting ingredients. If  you thing pet health care, how about magnetic resonance imaging for pets. Yes, Iams branded MRIs for cats and dogs, they are coming. We have other companies that are offering pre-paid funerals and burial plots. Why stop there, how about Iams branded insurance for pets? As A.G. Lafley CEO says, "We're offering consumers peace of mind."

Of the two product line innovations listed above, one focuses on an attribute (cleaning), while the other centers on a category (pet care). Consider other P&G lines of interest, from Diapers to Baby Care, from Laundry Detergents to Fabric Care, from Hair Care to Cosmetics, and from Toothpaste to Oral Care.

Bottom line, look to your strengths, your resources, and your areas of knowledge.

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