Procter & Gamble, one of the world's premier consumer goods companies. Some 99 percent of all U. S. households use at least one of P&G's more than 300 brands, and the typical household regularly buys and uses from one to two dozen P&G brands. How many P&G products can you name?

Why does this superb marketer compete with itself on supermarket shelves by marketing seven different brands of laundry detergent? The P&G story provides a great example of how smart marketers use segmentation, targeting, and positioning. Procter & Gamble (P&G) sells seven brands of laundry detergent in the United States (Tide, Cheer, Bold, Gain, Era, Dreft, Febreze, and Ivory Snow).

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It also sells six brands of hand soap (Ivory, Safeguard, Camay, Olay, Zest, and Old Spice); five brands of shampoo (Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Pert, Physique, and Vidal Sassoon); four brands of dishwashing detergent (Dawn, Ivory, Joy, and Cascade); three brands each of tissues and towels (Charmin, Bounty, Puffs), and deodorant (Secret, Sure, and Old Spice); and two brands each of fabric softener (Downy and Bounce), cosmetics (Cover Girl and Max Factor), skin care potions (Olay and Noxema), and disposable diapers (Pampers and Luvs). Moreover, P&G has many additional brands in each category for different international markets.

For example, it sells 16 different laundry product brands in Latin America and 19 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. (See Procter & Gamble's Web site at www. pg. com for a full glimpse of the company's impressive lineup of familiar brands. ) These P&G brands compete with one another on the same supermarket shelves. But why would P&G introduce several brands in one category instead of concentrating its resources on a single leading brand? The answer lies in the fact that different people want different mixes of benefits from the products they buy. Take laundry detergents as an example.

People use laundry detergents to get their clothes clean. But they also want other things from their detergents—such as economy, bleaching power, fabric softening, fresh smell, strength or mildness, and lots of suds or only a few. We all want some of every one of these benefits from our detergent, but we may have different priorities for each benefit. To some people, cleaning and bleaching power are most important; to others, fabric softening matters most; still others want a mild, fresh-scented detergent. Thus, there are groups—or segments—of laundry detergent buyers, and each segment seeks a special combination of benefits.

Procter & Gamble has identified at least seven important laundry detergent segments, along with numerous subsegments, and has developed a different brand designed to meet the special needs of each. The seven brands are positioned for different segments as follows: ? Tide provides "fabric cleaning and care at its best. " It's the all-purpose family detergent that is "tough on greasy stains. " ? Cheer is the "color expert. " It helps protect against fading, color transfer, and fabric wear, with or without bleach. Cheer Free is "dermatologist tested . . . contains no irritating perfume or dye. " ?

Bold is the detergent with built-in fabric softener and pill/fuzz removal. ? Gain, originally P&G's "enzyme" detergent, was repositioned as the detergent that gives you clean, fresh-smelling clothes. It "cleans and freshens like sunshine. Great cleaning power and a smell that stays clean. " ? Era is "the power tool for stain removal and pretreating. " It contains advanced enzymes to fight a family's tough stains and help get the whole wash clean. Era Max has three types of active enzymes to help fight many stains that active families encounter. ? Ivory Snow is "Ninety-nine and forty-four one hundredths percent pure. It provides "mild cleansing benefits for a pure and simple clean. " ? Dreft also "helps remove tough baby stains . . . for a clean you can trust. " It's "pediatrician recommended and the first choice of mothers. " It "doesn't remove the flame resistance of children's sleepwear. " Within each segment, Procter & Gamble has identified even narrower niches.

For example, you can buy regular Tide (in powder or liquid form) or any of several formulations: ? Tide with Bleach helps to "keep your whites white and your colors bright. " Available in regular or "mountain spring" scents. Tide Liquid with Bleach Alternative uses active enzymes in pretreating and washing to break down and remove the toughest stains while whitening whites. ? Tide High Efficiency "unlocks the cleaning power of high-efficiency top-loading machines" it prevents oversudsing. ? Tide Clean Breeze gives the fresh scent of laundry line-dried in a clean breeze. ? Tide Mountain Spring lets you "bring the fresh clean scent of the great outdoors inside-the scent of crisp mountain air and fresh wildflowers. " ? Tide Free "provides all the stain removal benefits without any dyes or perfumes. " ?

Tide Rapid Action Tablets are portable and powerful. It's Tide "all concentrated into a little blue and white tablet that fits into your pocket. " By segmenting the market and having several detergent brands, Procter & Gamble has an attractive offering for consumers in all important preference groups. As a result, P&G is really cleaning up in the $4 billion U. S. laundry detergent market. Tide, by itself, captures a whopping 38 percent market share. All P&G brands combined take a 57 percent share of the market—three times that of nearest rival Unilever and much more than any single brand could obtain by itself.