How Open Innovation Helped to Create a Billion Dollar Brand

Published Jul-22-14

Procter and Gamble successfully grow one of its product lines through a number of open innovation partnerships.

Procter and Gamble, United States

The Story:

How Open Innovation Helped to Create a Billion Dollar Brand Febreze is a brand of odor eliminator that started out as a fabric refresher and has since become a multi-product success story, branching out into such categories as plug-in oils, odor eliminating candles and air fresheners for cars.

Febreze has been one of the fastest growing brands for Procter and Gamble in recent years and it’s down to a combination of internal R&D and external innovation. Open innovation partners have been selected to develop, manufacture and commercialize Febreze-based products.

Big Ambitions

Since it first launched onto the marketplace, P&G has entertained big ideas for Febreze. From the outset, the team behind the product wanted it to grow big and they wanted it to grow fast. "To do that they needed resources, they needed expertise and support that the company couldn't afford,” said Gerard Baillely, P&G, R&D Manager – Home Care. “So Connect & Develop was their solution.”

One of the goals was to create a non-energized air freshener for the home. P&G developed the consumer and technical requirements and the initial technology. This was a membrane that controlled the release of fragrance in the air. For the rest, P&G looked to Zobele, an Italian SME. The company improved the technology by creating a membrane with a multi-layer design that allows scented oil to flow continuously through it.

It was a perfect marriage of two companies with very different profiles. One is a global titan known for the cutting-edge innovation of its products. The other is a small outfit that creates manufacturing solutions for low cost innovations. Both partners brought much to the table; P&G has its deep understanding of consumer needs and Zobele has its expertise in the manufacturing of air freshening devices.

The result was Febreze® Set & Refresh that came to market two years earlier than initial projections.

Cleaning Up

The Febreze brand also leveraged open innovation for the development of Febreze Filter that works inside vacuum cleaners to eliminate odors as people clean their homes. P&G entered into a joint development agreement with Bissell Inc. a privately owned vacuum cleaner and floor care product manufacturing company.

Mark Bissell, Chairman and CEO, Bissell commented: “It really allows Bissell to use our 137 years of appliance expertise, combined with the strong consumer insights that Procter and Gamble has with its multiple brands, in a way that really adds something unique.”

Achieving More Together

The Febreze brand demonstrates the best of open innovation partnerships, when all parties meet on equal term. The relationship is not one of a larger company being ‘serviced’ by smaller enterprises for their own needs. All partners complement and maximize each other’s strengths to gain something real, meaningful and valuable from the relationship.

As part of its open innovation approach, P&G has also licensed the Febreze name to other companies for use on various products such as air filters and vacuum bags.

“Febreze has figured that Connect & Develop is a fabulous way to offensively grow your brand in the marketplace in every market in the world," said David Taylor, P&G, Group President - Global Home Care.

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