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Cover Story: Parry and Advance

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: December 10, 2007, from the December 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 4 of 6

For answers to the question about where to go next, Hettich applies his Innovation Master Plan, which starts with equity landscape assessment: What are the attributes the brand controls today and what can they become? What can consumers trust a brand to do? “We asked consumers and they said Febreze meets its promises, but they also said ‘When I use this brand, it is uplifting and freshening in my life.’ The transformation has been more in learning to stretch a brand and to know about true brand creation. Febreze had a much more narrow stretch when I started.”

Much of the rest of the decision making process is based on consumer research. Hettich and his team look at the top attributes of consumer needs, and plot them on a chart. They decide they want to “play in that quadrant of ‘most important and not met’” then turn to technology that solves the problem. These are building blocks. From there, says Hettich, the decision can be made to do an entry into air care; in his case, based on the fabric refresher with parameters such as the instant fragrance delivery of a spray and long-term delivery of a plug-in.

Air Effects was the first product born of this decision making process. Hettich said it was an easy stop for consumers because they were already spraying fabrics. “It’s that strategic thinking that lets us say if I look 30 months or five years out, how do I sequence that?”

His fencing skills also come in handy here. “Anticipating the next move is what we do constantly. We walk in consumers shoes. Will they like it and what is the next demand? What about the competition? If I put out this candle, what will be their next move?”
“His ability to do that is something that he definitely applies to every aspect of the work,” said Ross Holthouse, external relations manager, P&G. “It is fascinating to see the depth and breadth he brings to the work.”

You can tell from the tone of Hettich’s voice that he likes nothing better than getting the best people around the table to push the envelope of creativity. He likes to bring a variety of favorite creativity techniques to bear on these sessions, among them taking a team to a very different environment, working with all five senses and mixing the right people by handpicking the group. “I make a conscious choice to put the right group into the room and tease out the tensions that exist.” That’s how the Febreze candle was brought to life. “We brought in outsiders, and within three months, had created a new concept and
a new vision for the future.”

New-to-the-world Thinking