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It might seem the perfect setup for failure: Procter & Gamble Co.'s Bounty paper towels entered the 1990s and an emerging recession as a premium brand in a category with growing private-label presence.

Instead, Bounty doubled its volume in six years while maintaining prices at least 10% higher than competing brands. For the 52 weeks ending Feb. 25, the brand led the $2.1 billion paper-towel category with a 38.5% market share, according to Information Resources Inc.

With the lowest level of promotional activity in its category, Bounty has become one of the leading successes for P&G's everyday low pricing strategy, too.

The success stems from identifying consumer wants, developing superiority in strength, absorbency and low-cost production, and marketing these points to consumers, says Mark Ketchum, 46, President-U.S. Paper Sector.

He credits the 6-year-old "Little Kids-Big Spills" campaign by Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York, with promoting Bounty's product-superiority message.

"If you have 100% more strength and absorbency, paying 10% more doesn't faze you at all," says Mr. Ketchum.

As Bounty's volume has doubled, P&G has more than doubled media spending on the brand.

The same consumer understanding, product innovation and strong marketing that currently make Bounty P&G's most successful domestic paper brand can be applied "throughout Procter & Gamble," Mr. Ketchum says.

Jack Neff

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