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World's fastest-moving diaper?

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-16 06:00:27-04

CINCINNATI - It would be difficult to visit 60 countries in a year, much less launch a new product in each of them in that amount of time. 

And yet, that’s what Procter & Gamble Co. is planning for its latest diaper innovation – a new Pampers Cruisers design that can “distribute wetness evenly” to keep nappies from sagging.

“The new product started shipping in the U.S. late summer and will launch in over 60 countries in the next year,” CEO A.G. Lafley told shareholders at P&G’s annual meeting.

P&G spokesman Damon Jones said it’s the fastest rollout in recent memory, one that typifies the company’s new approach of focusing investment on new products that can build market share and grow revenue.

P&G has invested billions to beef up its manufacturing and distribution capacity with the goal of bringing new products to market more quickly. Its diaper business has a tighter network of factories and always strives for rapid rollouts.

But 60 countries in 12 months “is fast for us,” Jones said.

P&G launched the new Pampers Cruisers Aug. 13, with an ad calling it “the first and only diaper that helps distribute wetness easily into three extra absorb channels.”

CFO Jon Moeller told analysts in a Sept. 10 conference call that orders for the new product were “well above our expectations” and P&G is poised to get the new diapers to customers quickly.

“We've achieved double-digit share increases of distribution and display at many of our top customers,” Moeller said. “In total, we've delivered over 100,000 incremental points of distribution versus year-ago.”

Lafley cited the Pampers innovation as an example of how the new P&G will grow revenue and profits more quickly once it unloads more than 90 brands that fall outside of 10 core categories where P&G dominates its rivals.

“In baby care, P&G now holds a 44 percent value share of the diapers category, with a seven point lead versus Huggies in the U.S.,” Lafley said. “We plan to continue this momentum with our newest innovation.”

P&G isn’t the only consumer-products company trying to roll out new product innovations at hyper speed. Companies like Unilever, Nestle and Pepsi have “boots on the ground” all over the planet so they can get new products onto store shelves as quickly as possible, said Mauro Guillen, professor of international management at the Wharton School.

“There’s a risk of moving too fast, but there’s also a risk of moving too slow,” said Guillen, author of several books on global business trends. “If they delay entering the market, they may find that a competitor has already grabbed market share.”