Wednesday, January 19, 2005

How Crest Made Business History

Here is an interesting piece from the Harvard Business School on the history of Toothpaste Marketing!

Editor's Note: In the mid-1950s, P&G's new Crest toothpaste gained a modest 10 percent market share. But starting in 1960, Crest would dominate toothpaste sales for thirty years. What changed? P&G spent big to make Crest a therapeutic as well as a cosmetic product, and the endorsement of the American Dental Association shot Crest into orbit. This excerpt comes from a broader look in Harvard Business School's Business History Review at toothpaste innovation and marketing from 1955 to 1985.

The significance of a toothpaste that offered genuine dental protection was well understood by manufacturers in the 1950s. A detailed report on the market by Unilever in 1959 made the following observation:

Unfortunately, the true therapeutic toothpaste giving a high degree of protection against dental caries still remains a dream, one which seems unlikely to come true for some time. If this problem could be solved it might give us a world beater.44

Until the publication of this report, Unilever's personal care business (then known as "toilet preparations") remained in the shadow of its margarine and detergents operations, and it had conducted relatively little research on toothpaste. Yet, while Unilever's managers pondered the potential of a "true therapeutic toothpaste," their rivals at P&G had already been committing considerable resources to developing one, and by the end of the 1950s they were on the verge of achieving a major breakthrough.

Read the rest here.

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