Procter & Gamble 375

Buoyed by consumer needs for home staples like laundry detergent and cough medicine, one of radio’s largest advertisers posted its biggest U.S. sales increase in decades. Procter & Gamble said its sales rose 10% in the U.S., in what CEO David Taylor called “a direct reflection of the integral role our products play in meeting the daily health, hygiene and cleaning needs of consumers around the world.”

The CPG giant continues to pour millions of dollars into radio advertising. For the period of April 6-12, P&G placed seven different brands in the top 100 radio advertisers, according to Media Monitors, which tracks advertising in 85 markets. Charmin was No. 33, Olay was No. 35, Oral-B at No. 37, Vicks at No. 48, Bounty at No. 50, Tide at No. 56 and Dawn at No. 60.

Across the seven brands, P&G ran a total of 70,684 spots in one week. While that’s down from pre-COVID levels in January, it still made P&G the top volume advertiser for the week.

The world’s largest advertiser increased the number of spots it aired on radio by more than 100% in 2019, making it the No. 2 parent company advertiser at radio, up from No. 5 in 2018.

The latest financial results cover January-March 2020, which is the company’s third fiscal quarter. P&G is the first CPG company to report financial results for the start of the year. While sales were up double digits in the U.S., they fell 8% in China, where stores, factories and roads were closed, causing a significant sales downdraft. P&G’s global sales were up 6%.

The gains were driven by robust sales in the company’s health care (+9%) and fabric and home care segments (+10%).

Sales of essential household goods are strong as consumers stock up during the pandemic. For the two weeks ended March 21, Nielsen says, total U.S. CPG sales — in-store and online — increased by $8.5 billion over the two weeks prior. That’s 15-times the average rate of change for a typical two-week period. The behavior dovetails with what would be expected of people who are largely confined to home.

But the CPG industry faces a retail environment right now unlike any other. The double whammy of the public health impact from the pandemic and its economic fallout are expected to reshape long-term consumer behavior. CPG companies would do well to maintain their marketing or risk losing their current momentum when the current “panic buying” period cools down, according to a report in Marketing Dive. "If [CPGs] go dark and start to pull all marketing dollars, their road back is going to be more expensive," Marta Cyhan, CMO of shopper intelligence firm Catalina, told Marketing Dive. "It's almost like, if you've got momentum now with the business, it's more about how to maintain it."