New Product Development by Procter & Gamble

Align Probiotic Food Supplement

An educative story of development of an award-winning innovative product

By: Vadim Kotelnikov, Founder of Innovarsity free online Innovation University!


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The story of "Align Probiotic Food Supplement" development by Procter & Gamble has important lessons for innovators.


P&G innovators always look at contradictions in the marketplace. They discovered that more than 30 million people in the United States alone suffer from the irritable bowel syndrome. It was a pressing problem with no adequate solutions. P&G decided to make the lives of these people better by developing a probiotic pill whose daily use could alleviate the symptoms of the syndrome. The project had unique intellectual property and disruptive potential as completely new market niche was to be created.

Yet, on its way to success, the project was about to get shut down. Why? Launching a new brand is expensive, but the original market forecast said that the opportunity would be too small to justify the investment. In addition, the team hadn't yet solved all the technological problems.

Regardless of the tough issues and challenges the innovators faced, the team, under the guidance of its entrepreneurial leader Nancy McCarthy, persevered. They knew that crummy market forecasts can obscure solid business opportunities, and that innovation success requires looking at the numbers critically before making investment decisions. The Align team decided to look for the assumptions behind the numbers and find simple, affordable ways to pressure test those numbers in as-close-to-market-conditions as possible.

The team conducted a scenario analysis to identify the assumptions that would have to prove true to justify a full-scale launch. P&G top management agreed to provide a small amount of money to check these assumptions. The Align team launched the product on a small scale over the Internet to test market the supplement and get market feedback. They used P&G existing pharmaceutical sales force to push the product in a few cities without spending money on advertising.

"The team stair-stepped to market, never investing ahead of learning," said Chief Technology Officer Bruce Brown. Important insights came from this step-by-step process. Instead of simply having a container with a bunch of pills in it, the Align team created a "blister pack" that provides patients with easy, once-a-day dosing convenience.. Product differentiation, including branding, changed as well.

P&G then moved to sell the product online through websites like and launched the product nationally. Align won the Gold Edison Award for being one of the best new products of 2010 and became the #1 gastroenterologist recommended probiotic. The supplement contains Bifantis, a unique, patented probiotic that helps to build and maintain a healthy digestive system and to support your natural digestive balance. Consumers who tried Align reported that their lives were changed.




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