"We are learning how to connect with consumers in a new way. And as an R&D person I’m really excited to see us continuing to launch new bio-based products in new spaces to reach even more consumers."
Established 180 years ago when it just produced soap and candles, Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) portfolio now includes a huge range of cosmetics, homecare and personal hygiene products that are sold across the world. P&G has evolved in more recent years to focus its attention on improving its environmental sustainability, partnering with other companies and innovators to find renewable solutions that reduce waste. Todd Cline, P&G section head, is one of the executive team leading that charge.
For this week’s 5 minutes with…, Todd talks to Dave Songer about the bio-based ingredients P&G is developing, how his connection with the great outdoors motivates him and his favourite products at this year’s Bio-Based Live in San Diego.
Dave Songer (DS): Hi Todd, great to catch up with you. Can you tell me what was your first involvement in the bio-based industry?
Todd Cline (TC): I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of plant-based products earlier in my career at P&G – Metamucil, Folgers and Millstone Coffees – but leading our work in renewable laundry products, such as Tide purclean, has been my first opportunity to work in creating products from bio-based materials to replace petroleum-based ones.
(DS): What do you enjoy most about your role, and working for P&G?
(TC): I love that I’m able to work in an area I’m really passionate about. I’m very connected to the outdoors as an avid runner, skier, and hiker so sustainability issues have been important to me for quite a while. Then, when I became a father it just magnified. I love that I get to work in a space so closely tied to personal passions, get to do it with just an amazing and fun team around me and, given the size of our brands, have the opportunity to impact a lot of consumers.
(DS): What is the biggest professional challenge you’ve faced?
(TC): We set very high standards for what success looks like for products and initiatives. Staying focused on delivering ongoing progress (versus perfection) required a change in mindset to enable us to continue moving forward in this space. Designing a 65% bio-based product that truly cleans like Tide was a huge step forward, but it could also have been very easy for us to delay until we were 98 or 99% plant-based, or ‘even better cleaning’ than Tide, which would add years before we could share any plant-based products with consumers. We’re still working towards “perfection”, but also realise our ability to make a meaningful impact along our journey.
(DS): What advice would you give someone looking to get started in the bio-based industry?
(TC): Our biggest opportunity is to deliver consumer delight when they use our products, which we believe requires providing products that don’t force consumers to accept lower performance. If we did that they wouldn’t want to use plant-based products. My advice would be to make sure the product delights the consumer. A product may get a trial from an interested consumer because it’s bio-based, but if it doesn’t work for them they won’t truly adopt it into their routine.
(DS): What is the company’s main focus for 2018 – can you provide me with any details of projects or targets that our readers may not know about?
(TC): We’re really focused in a couple of areas. First, we are learning how to connect with consumers in a new way. And as an R&D person I’m really excited to see us continuing to launch new bio-based products in new spaces to reach even more consumers. We launched Dreft purtouch – a bio-based version of Dreft – in the spring to provide parents with a great plant-based option to care for baby’s clothes. And we’re currently launching Gain Botanicals to offer people who really love scent in their detergents a plant-based version of Gain.
(TC): I’m biased, but Tide purclean is my favourite. Obviously the personal connection to the design and launch of it, but I really believe it’s a bio-based product that doesn’t require performance trade-offs. Also, I was also really impressed with the mushroom-based lighting systems of Danielle Trofe Design and toys of Begin Again Toys at the Bio-based Live conference in San Diego last week.
(DS): You were guest speaker at the San Diego show – how did it go and what were your impressions of it?
(TC): I’ve been lucky enough to attend as a speaker the past couple of years and really enjoyed the event on both occasions. It’s truly inspiring to see what people are doing to create bio-based products and materials, and also to collaborate with like-minded people on some of the technical and commercial challenges in creating awareness and consumer adoption. Overall it’s just a really energising experience and also great to create connections that can help solve some of our common challenges.
(DS): Thanks Todd, Bio-Based World News looks forward to see more bio-based products from P&G.
Read last week’s 5 minutes with… Jo Anne Shatkin, president and founder of Vireo Advisors.
Next week will be with David Smernoff, founder and chief executive officer at HelioBioSys.
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