Even P&G faces unexpected risks

When working on a project to launch a new product a risk plan is put together as we’ve discussed. It’s known that Mother Nature, the economy and government regulations could be hard to forecast and thus could change your plans dramatically.

You do your best to put appropriate plans together to plan for these scenarios, but what do you do when the unthought of happens?

In April of 2011, P&G announced it was going to introduce an entirely new way to wash clothing — Tide Pods. A concentrated individually packaged detergent which removes stains and cleans better than traditional detergents according to their testing. They were planning to spend $150 million on marketing and launch in September of last year, hoping for first mover advantage. Then they announced a six month delay to launch the product earlier this year. Meanwhile Purex, All and Arm & Hammer have had time to perfect their products and launch at the same time. When P&G finally released the product to retailers, they faced supply issues and could only supply enough products for shelf displays, and not off shelf promotional spaces which increase awareness for new products.

Retailers are upset, and P&G is blaming the complicated new production process. Investors are already frustrated believing that P&G is lacking the innovation they once had (they’re moving their personal care HQ from Cincinnati to Singapore in an attempt to jump start that business).

Then once the product finally hit the shelves, parents are finding their children eating the product thinking it’s candy, causing severe side effects and sending children to the ER. P&G has said they’re now going to put a better locking mechanism on the fishbowl container which houses the bright colored pods.

Chicago was a key market for the launch of these products so you may have seen the advertising including CTA station dominations as shown below.

Have you tried the product? Does it live up to P&G’s hype? What could they have done differently to try to alleviate some of these issues (or foreseen them)? And if this can happen to a CPG leader like P&G, is there hope for the rest of us?





Samsung Galaxy S III isn’t quite an iPhone Killer

Recently I have read a review article on the newest Samsung phone, the Galaxy S III which came out this month. The Galaxy S III is the latest and the most ambitious phone from Samsung, which is available in most of the US, carries such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and a few others for around 200$ with a 2-year contract. While Samsung was aiming high with their newest phone and introducing a lot of new features, trying to cater to the customer’s wants and needs, according to the review it felt short due to some of its features not working properly.(http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/20/tech/mobile/wired-review-samsung-galaxy/index.html)

This week we have learned a lot about the design of goods and services, from the product decision process, to the ethical considerations involved in it. There are many decisions that have to be made and many aspects that have to be taken into consideration when creating something new or even when trying to improve a product. Samsung newest innovation the Galaxy S III has definitely undergone many decisions involving the price, software, design, as well as the different apps that are designed to use on only for this phone. The price of the phone is pretty affordable, as long as the customer would be willing to sign up for a contract with their service provider. The other good thing about the phone is that it is sold across the five US carriers. The phone also offers fast processing, a new voice recognition feature called S Voice, a display that is sharp and bright and a very light body. While this newer version of the Samsung Galaxy has been a big improvement, it still is not quite enough to over shine some other phones such as iPhone or One X. Some negative things that were pointed about the phone were, that the new feature S Voice is not really working properly and is no match to Apple’s Siri, also the sharing features are not really thought through out and could be improved upon. As many other phones out in the market place, this phone is not perfect, all of the phones have some features that still might need to be improved on. Even with its few flaws, I believe that this phone is a great new product that caters to most of the customers needs with its low price, easy accessibility and newly innovated features.


What do you think about the Galaxy S III?  Is it a product worth buying?

Model S has arrived


I’m very happy to share with all of you that Tesla Motors delivered their first electric sedan – Model S on June 22, 2012 (Model S Deliveries have begun). That was a very important day for the company because all resources were put into development and production of Model S. Model S is their second, but the first mass-market model. Therefore, company is taking a big risk.

In class we discussed whether it is better to produce a new product or improve the old one. Tesla develops and manufactures electric vehicles with unique design, performance and efficiency and sells its product at a reasonable price. Their product is considered a niche product, because there are not a lot of high performance fully electric cars.

The company is definitely a top innovator in its industry. Furthermore, Tesla is planning to go beyond just producing electric cars and to make a real difference in the auto world. I’m pretty sure the company will be able to accomplish its mission. Why? Because Tesla follows their simple strategy:

  1. Build a sports car
  2. Use that money to build an affordable car
  3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  4. While doing above, also provide zero-emission electric-power generation options (http://www.teslamotors.com/fr_FR/node/3917)

There are many reasons that Tesla to succeed. First of all, it is evident that gas prices are rising. We can’t change the price on gas, but we can avoid it by driving a fully electric auto, like the Model S. Consumers are becoming increasingly more concerned with social responsibility by choosing green products. Green isn’t a fad or trend anymore; it’s now an entire economy and way of working. Electric cars are usually not the fastest cars and often, not the best looking. Tesla is different. Their focus on style and emotion is as strong as their focus on innovation and efficiency. Therefore, people who care about style will probably choose Tesla. Do you think Tesla will succeed in their journey?

Cinderella’s shoe, does it fit everyone?

Husband and Wife both are Six Sigma practitioners. Obviously, their daily lives conversations happen in Six Sigma parlance. The wife happens to be a very good cook, one of the reasons why the husband married her. Suddenly, three days at a stretch, the food starts to have extra salt. Husband objects, to which wife responds

“Common Cause of Variation”. One day, the wife adds a lot of salt to the food. Husband takes ill and is admitted to the hospital. Wife comes to see him and quips, “Sorry, special cause of variation.” Husband says, “It was Structural.”

Three days later, Husband hands out a divorce notice to wife and quips, “Process Unstable. Not meeting CTQ*.”
*CTQs are the internal critical quality parameters that relate to the wants and needs of the customer.

Thought of sharing this joke as I believe it will help us all in remembering few vocabularies used during our last session.

The last few session reminded me of one of the main product development projects that I’ve worked on, where we launched one product in 7 different markets, however we had to customize it a bit for each market in order to meet customer expectations in each of the 7 markets.
The product was basically a credit card in local currency, you may wonder what is so special about it? Well it was an American Express local currency Credit Card.  And as you may know, American Express is considered the most prestigious plastic card in the world, and it targets individuals with high expenditure patterns. Refer to this blog for American  American
Express’s Competitive Position

As this may be very true for its main product “the Charge Card”, it was not applicable for their Credit Card target segment, which made the product development & marketing teams wonder of what would attract customers to American Express Credit Card rather than any other credit cards available in their market? Well the development team followed the differentiation strategy while designing the product. It was the feel of the prestigious card that attracted customers to it, in addition to the appropriately designed product that met customer’s expectation in each of the targeted markets. But how did the development team identify the customer needs? They utilized their existing data and referred to the Charge Card customer base, they asked them if they would like to hold supplementary Credit Cards for their spouses and children with a credit limit, and bang that was highly demanded. As loyal cardholders they didn’t want to hold many different brands of cards and also didn’t want to  provide the open limit charge card as supplementary cards to their family. Of course further focus groups were obtained then to identify the requirements of each market, and to develop a product that is different than the current ones in the market. Tremendous amount of work was held but it was worth it, the product was launched successfully and it was well perceived in all 7 different markets.

However, do you think what AMEX did for identifying customer’s needs in each market was enough? If not, what alternative ways would you suggest?

My friends..do you remember Nokia ?



My First Nokia Mobile Phone




Do you remember Nokia? Yes the mobile phone that was used by almost everyone five years ago. To most of us who were born in the 1980s, Nokia was our first mobile phone.  Nokia was dominating the market, everyone had Nokia. Nokia was very successful from 1998 up until 2008 when Blackberry and the iphone started to dominate the market and attract not only businessmen but also teenagers. Nokia lost a lot of its market share due to its weak forecasting of changing consumer tastes and preferences and its lack of sufficient research and development as well as its inability to compete with its competitors especially when it comes to adding innovative features and applications that are smarter and effective. Nokia lost its target market from all different ages whether it is the high school student or the university student or even the sophisticated business professional. It is sad to see that 5 years ago all my friends had a Nokia mobile phone and currently none of my friends have this mobile phone anymore even though it is still being sold in all our local mobile shops.


                We studied in our operations management class about Product Life Cycle that states that product goes through 4 stages: Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. Nokia is definitely now in the decline stage for many reasons. The first reason is Nokia’s poor product design which did not attract consumers  because they looked very dull and stale unlike the Blackberry and the iphone.  The second reason why Nokia reached its decline stage is that they were always one step behind their competitors mainly Blackberry and iphone especially when it comes to adding innovative features such as 3G and free chatting and social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. A third reason why Nokia reached its decline stage is its strong dependence on its brand equity. Its dependence and reliance on its brand equity for a long time led the company to focus less on research and development and less monitoring of all existing and potential competitors. A fourth reason why Nokia reached its decline stage is the changing technological environment. Nokia was very famous for its simplicity however people have changed because they started demanding smarter phones rather than simple phones. They started demanding phones with many smart applications rather than few simple applications. Therefore, the change in the taste and preferences of the consumer led Nokia to the decline stage as consumer demand decreased significantly in the past couple of years.

My question is what should Nokia do now to restore its glory and fame? Can it regain its market leadership one more time and become the number one mobile phone by defeating Blackberry and i-phone or is it too late?

Sitting On Sustainable Luxury, A Process Not Many People Appreciate!

Have you ever thought about how much time and effort it takes to produce the chair and sofa you sit on, or the bed you sleep on?

I can certainly relate to the chapters we studied relating to product design, and quality management and international standards. Working for a furniture company, I get to watch training videos of how our products are produced. I must admit furniture design is very intense. Every chair, bed, and table has to be designed according to the ergonomics of the human body, as well as international standards; since our furniture is sold worldwide. Every piece is designed to assure comfort, convenience and style. Along with product design, the main focus has now become on “ecodesign”, the following is the statement our company shares regarding sustainability:  “Like any industrial product, furniture is a source of environmental impact. Thereby participating in its degradation to the extent that it requires materials and energy, it must be transported and packaged, it can be maintained and repaired, and it will one day become a waste… This policy is now inseparable to our commitments of quality and creativity.” This statement clearly shows our company’s use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Our furniture pieces are designed by top European designers, creators and architects. Every piece of furniture produced goes through a very long production cycle. Furniture design begins with creativity, followed by design with the use of software such as Computer-aided design (CAD), and Design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA). Once the design is completed digitally, a prototype is then produced with the use of human labor as well as Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). The prototype is then tested by the designer and management.

Quality management is of crucial importance when it comes to the furniture we sell. To assure quality our furniture is only made with solid wood from environmentally sustainable forests, and the fabrics and leathers used in our furniture go through a series of detailed tests. Our fabrics go through a rub test, known as Martindale Test, which tests a fabric’s durability by counting the number of rubs it takes for a fabric to wear out. If a fabric wears out before 30,000 rubs then it is not durable, the most durable are fabrics from 30,000 to 100,000 rubs. Our leathers also go through a series of different testing methods such as absorbency, burning and stretching. A thorough inspection of the materials used is done by experts who “have the eye” to spot mistakes or natural defects. Some natural defects are usually found in leather. Since it comes from cows, some cows might get scars which are then found in the leather. A piece of furniture will only go into production, once it meets the European Furniture Standards and passes quality control.

Now that you have a better understanding about the creation of sustainable furniture, can you relate the importance of product design and quality management to other daily life objects?