Perhaps you read earlier this month that Procter & Gamble sold most of its Zest soap business to a private equity company. After 60 years it was determined that this product line was no longer a strategic fit. Despite its various product extensions over the years (Aqua, Ocean Breeze, Marathon) and its combination tactics (Hair + Body), and the unique addition of ingredients (Hint of Honey), Zest no longer met Proctor & Gamble’s “secret sauce” criteria. No doubt this was a tough decision. I applaud the company for deciding to ultimately support their long-term brand purpose.
I follow Harvard professor Clayton Christensen’s axiom as my merchandising golden rule: “A product has a job to do for your customer.” I also add to that: “A product has a job to do for your brand.” These guiding factors play out in all the best merchandising strategies. Customer-centric products have only two paths — they can either enhance or detract from the brand.