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How P&G Launched a 24-Hour Disinfecting Spray Just as Covid-19 Hit the U.S.

How P&G Launched a 24-Hour Disinfecting Spray Just as Covid-19 Hit the U.S.

In February, a new disinfectant spray called Microban 24 that could kill 99% of cold and flu viruses began to make its way on store shelves. Soon afte

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In February, a new disinfectant spray called Microban 24 that could kill 99% of cold and flu viruses began to make its way on store shelves. Soon after, as a deadly pathogen spread through the globe, sales boomed as panicked shoppers grabbed any virus-killing cleaners when Lysol and Clorox were nowhere to be found.

Microban 24 is on track to log $200 million of sales this year—a rare new hit for Procter & Gamble Co. It is no surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic set off a surge in cleaning. What is surprising is that P&> had launched the niche product at all.

The consumer products giant, famous for its meticulous market research and layers of managers, set out to launch Microban 24 with a team of five employees and released it without relying on an army of test subjects to chart every major decision. P&>’s factories don’t even produce Microban 24. It is made by outside contractors.

The blue spray bottle is a sign of how much the 183-year-old company revamped the way it runs its business and develops products. Gone is a complex management structure that sometimes put brand managers and country managers at odds. Gone too is the strictly centralized product development that unilaterally controlled which ideas got approved and how they were marketed.

Hobbled by the last recession, P&> got its own house in order before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. And while it benefited from the consumer shifts spurred by the coronavirus, its success this year is also evidence of how struggling companies that addressed their problems before the crisis have been able to steer a path through it.

This post first appeared on wsj.com

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