In the 1950s, a researcher from Procter & Gamble observed that his new grandson’s cloth diapers fit poorly, leaked often, and required constant laundering. This observation led to an innovation that transformed the future of P&G, and the market for baby products worldwide.
For the three decades following the introduction of Pampers to American consumers, Procter & Gamble dominated store shelves as the bestselling brand of disposable diapers. By the late 90s, however, Pampers’ market share dropped. Their biggest competitor, Huggies, had closed the gap with consumers, leaving P&G in search of an innovative way to reclaim their top spot in the diaper category.
Research & Insights
Research & Insights
The success of the original Pampers design was built upon its functional benefits: to absorb waste and prevent leaks. Yet our initial research revealed that P&G was unlikely to gain new market share by simply doing the same thing better—that is, making a more functional diaper. From consumers’ perspective, both Pampers and Huggies already offered exceptional functional performance. (Some parents even felt diapers were too absorbent!)
Our team presented Procter & Gamble with a 10-year lighthouse strategy for the Pampers Baby Stages of Development, which included a roadmap for making this vision real. We also worked with P&G to design the initial line of products: Swaddlers helped infants to sleep through the night; Cruisers gave babies greater mobility to crawl and walk; and Easy-Ups supported toddlers-in-training.
More than a simple change in segmentation, this shift toward a focus on early childhood development enabled Pampers to deepen their relationship with consumers, connecting on an emotional level rather than a merely functional one.
With the release of its Baby Stages of Development line, Pampers reclaimed their reigning position as the No. 1 brand of disposable diaper, a category they’d created nearly half a century earlier. In recognition of this accomplishment, P&G awarded Continuum their A.G. Lafley Innovation Award.
Pampers has not slipped from their top spot since introducing Baby Stages of Development to the market. In fact, the brand continues to grow. In 2012, P&G annouced that Pampers had become their first “Ten Billion Dollar Brand.”