Changing consumer habits have weighed on Procter & Gamble, but things are starting to look up, with the consumer juggernaut posting 3 percent organic sales growth in its latest quarter, the biggest increase in this closely monitored category in more than a year.
"Ultimately it's about winning the consumer value equation, it's working with our customers and working very hard to create and build categories as the key driver of growth, because if we do that, it's a very sustainable strategy," P&G Chairman and CEO David Taylor told CNBC.
Taylor took the helm at P&G, best known for brands like Tide detergent and Pampers diapers, one year ago.
The company has streamlined its portfolio in an effort to return to growth, but Taylor told CNBC in an interview that new products are also helping to drive the firm's turnaround. "If you go back 10 years ago, car air fresheners was a very small, quiet category. We introduced something called Febreze car, and it is now a quarter-billion-dollar business that's growing nicely."
P&G's efforts to offer innovative new products is how, Taylor said, the firm will win market share in the U.S. and abroad. "I believe very much that it will come down ultimately to innovation that builds categories, and if we do our job better than others, we'll get a little bit of share growth. I don't subscribe to the zero sum game that says it's only about whether we can take from someone else."
Despite growth in all of P&G's product categories, beauty is not doing as well as the others. Taylor attributes some of that to changing consumer behaviors.
Gillette is one of P&G's brands that has suffered, as facial hair has become more trendy. "There is a societal trend in many countries of more facial hair, and that's not great for Gillette. Although we also play in both wet and dry. We have Braun and we have Gillette, so there's a lot of trimming jobs to be done and we've got products to deal with that," Taylor explained.
Other categories are seeing massive growth. The consumer product giant's Always discreet brand of adult diapers is its fastest growing product, and Taylor said the brand has allowed P&G to reach a whole new demographic.