P&G designs easy-to-use coding system for Always

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Procter & Gamble Co. is revamping the packaging and advertising of its category-leading Always brand to combat confusion the company says leads women to choose the wrong product up to 70% of the time.

P&G will add tags featuring the packaging change to its existing TV and print ads from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, by April. P&G wouldn't disclose spending, but has put $50 million behind the sanitary protection brand in the U.S. each of the past two years, according to Competitive Media Reporting.


P&G also will use direct mail and a shopping guide at the brand's Web site.

Each package will display a proprietary symbol, such as a diamond, star or sun, in the upper left corner and a banner urging consumers to remember their product package's symbol.

Packages, which began shipping in February, also now include droplet symbols to indicate the amount of protection provided in products that come in light, medium and heavy protection versions.

The symbols should make it much easier for women to remember and repurchase the type of sanitary pad they prefer and eliminate confusion that "can be frustrating and cause product dissatisfaction when the wrong product is purchased," a P&G spokeswoman said.

The confusion is in part a by-product of P&G's success. Always captured leadership of the category in recent years partly through introductions of new ultra-thin, overnight and odor-absorbing products.

Those products have helped Always leapfrog Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Kotex brand. Kotex had a 7-point market share lead in 1992, but P&G last year took over category leadership, with a 25.3% share of the $1.8 billion category, compared with Kotex's 18.7%, according to Information Resources Inc.


The symbols will vary internationally, however, because of differences in products and how consumers perceive various symbols, said Phil Duncan, a designer with Landor SAS, who developed the new packaging.

Due to that discrepancy, the U.S. system includes 12 icons but P&G ended up with more than 40 globally, Mr. Duncan said.

"If there was some sort of interpretation of a symbol that was inappropriate for the category or had regional negativity surrounding it, then those were struck from the list."

Though P&G is also considering a similar system for its Tampax brand acquired from Tambrands last year, "we'll probably see how this does before we move ahead in other areas," the spokeswoman said.

Copyright February 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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