Robots That Deliver Toilet Paper? There's Data to Thank for That

P&G expounded the importance of observing consumers to get the products they need in their hands.
Donna Fuscaldo
The photo credit line may appear like thisP&G

You wouldn't expect the CEO of a consumer products company to keynote a presentation at CES, the industry largest technology conference held every year in Las Vegas. 

But that's exactly what Procter & Gamble CEO David Taylor did during his second year at the tech trade show, laying out just how technology is helping the company get the desired products in consumers' hands. It comes at the same time P&G is showing off RollBot a toilet paper delivering robot. 


Observing is more powerful than listening 

During a presentation titled "Transforming Routine Habits into Meaningful Consumer Behaviors," Taylor said in order for brands to connect with consumers they have to watch what they are doing rather than what they are saying on social media. That has been a strategy P&G has applied for decades. Today it is using technology to do that even better to gain deeper insight into its customer's needs.

"Observing people in action is critical," said Taylor. "What people say is often different then what they do."

Taylor pointed to Febreeze as one example. Sales of the consumer product that masks smell on fabrics were slagging in Japan and P&G wanted to know why. They followed customers in their homes and found they used the product on fabrics they couldn't throw in the washing machine. P&G focused on that message in its ads and sales took off, cementing Japan's position as one of its biggest markets for that product.

Tech is behind P&G's endeavors  

Today P&G uses technology to capture data. In the past, that would be cumbersome requiring researchers and consumers to collaborate. For example in the past, PG would ask customers to log the usage of a washing machine but now with the consumer's permission, P&G will install cameras that will collect the data for them.

The consumer products company is also using artificial intelligence to analyze data to identify patterns and GEO analytics to find consumers with similar demographics on the local level. Today the company has 350 audiences to target rather than a few. "It narrows the cohorts so you can give precise messages to the first time parents, first time washing machine owners or people who just moved," Taylor said. 

Olay is all about customization these days 

P&G pointed to Olay, its skincare line as one example. The company developed an app that analyzes selfies to diagnose an individual's skin and provides the recommended skincare regime. The algorithms get smarter every selfie a user takes.

P&G is also showcasing its latest generation of its skincare offering its Opte Precision Skincare System. It's a personalized handheld inkjet printer to make the appearance of the skin's hyperpigmentation disappear and fade spots over time. It's a CES 2020 Innovation Award Honoree.

Robots That Deliver Toilet Paper? There's Data to Thank for That
Opte Precision Skincare System. Source: CES 

The company is also unveiling RollBot.  The P&G robot when controlled with a smartphone can deliver a fresh roll of Charmin toilet paper to its user. You'll never be caught in a bind again. Well maybe. The robot is just a prototype for now.  And yes it was developed based on research that shows running out of toilet paper while in the throes of doing your business is all too common. 


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