The unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 to both life and business in 2020 have helped demonstrate the importance of social responsibility on both personal and corporate levels in times of hardship.
Procter & Gamble, a consumer goods multinational, has seen in the pandemic scenario an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of its global citizenship.
Heading into 2020, P&G already had a series of impressive citizenship campaigns covering environmental sustainability, equality and inclusion and community impact, featuring programs aimed at helping China’s underprivileged and less well-off in rural areas and more.
And then the pandemic hit Wuhan, Hubei province. As a large multinational with a connection to extensive supply chains, and with many consumer brands, P&G was able to quickly step up and help those in urgent need.
“There’s no question that this has been an unimaginable year,” said Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G, in a recent interview with China Daily. “What we’ve been doing is responding to consumers, because our consumers who we serve look up to brands and companies to step up and be a force for good and a force for growth.”
The Chinese market has recovered quickly for the consumer product company, whose fiscal year runs from July to June.
On Oct 20, P&G reported financial results of the first quarter (July-September) of its fiscal year 2021. It noted that its net sales globally have reached $19.3 billion, an increase of 9 percent year-on-year.
In the same quarter, the beauty segment sales increased 7 percent compared with a year ago, skin and personal care sales grew in high single digits, driven by innovation-led growth in North America and China.
Its high-end skin care product SK-II grew over 20 percent with strong domestic consumption trends in China.
David Taylor, chairman, president and chief executive officer of P&G, said in the previous fiscal (2020) annual report: “We delivered strong, balanced sales and profit results in fiscal 2020, both pre-COVID and through the balance of the year, meeting or exceeding each of our going-in targets, demonstrating the commitment and agility of P&G people and the robustness of our strategy.”
The fast-moving consumer goods market in China has seen recovery in the second half of this year. According to Kantar Worldpanel, a market research firm, the total spending on FMCG grew by 4.1 percent in the three-month period to Sept 11, compared to the same period last year.
Stronger growth in lower-tier cities and e-commerce channels remained the key driver. The non-food segment continued to be the growth engine, with home-care products reporting strong growth of 7.1 percent in sales value.
P&G and its brands have contributed to the market rebound starting from cash donations and products distributed to those battling the pandemic.
As of March 8, more than a month after the outbreak was detected and the city of Wuhan locked down, P&G and its brands had provided 19.47 million yuan ($2.98 million) in cash and product donations to those working on the front lines.
“The efforts we have made in China have been extraordinary. Our China team stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, supplied products to people in China who really needed our health, hygiene and cleaning products more than ever,” Pritchard said.
The donations included Safeguard antibacterial hand sanitizer and Ariel liquid detergent, which were delivered through P&G’s distribution centers in Tianjin, Taicang and Guangzhou to hospitals, community clinics, fire stations as well as the newly built temporary hospitals in Hubei province.
P&G is committed to carry out 2,021 acts of good in 2021, as it further cements its reputation as an outstanding global corporate citizen.
“If there’s anything we need after experiencing this past year, it would be more acts of good and more love,” Pritchard said. “We are determined to make 2021 a year where we all come together to do more for our communities, equality and the planet,” Pritchard said.