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Higher prices have been depressing sales for Procter & Gamble

Kimberly Adams Apr 19, 2024
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Dawn dishwashing soap, made by Procter & Gamble. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Higher prices have been depressing sales for Procter & Gamble

Kimberly Adams Apr 19, 2024
Heard on:
Dawn dishwashing soap, made by Procter & Gamble. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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Among the stuff that people keep spending on despite higher prices are consumer packaged goods. Shampoos and laundry detergents, diapers and razors, and so on.

Demand in that sector has been pretty resilient to price increases as we learned this morning when consumer packaged goods giant Procter & Gamble released its quarterly earnings. Sales were up a bit but short of analyst expectations. Part of the reason for the less-than-robust growth, according to P&G? Higher prices.

Even though sales were up for P&G, it wasn’t really because more consumers were buying their stuff. It just cost more. And in some parts of the business, prices drove down sales.

That matches trends that Natalie Gallagher, principal economist at forecasting firm Prevedere, is seeing from consumers.

“They’re experiencing a lot of price fatigue. They might have taken price in stride a little bit more in 2022 and even into 2023. But we’re absolutely seeing that consumers are really responding to the weight on their wallets,” Gallagher said.

And they’re responding in several ways, said Sharmin Attaran, a professor of marketing at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

“Some consumers, they’re, you know, use products more sparingly, right, or reduce the frequency of their purchase to manage their budgets,” Attaran said.

Consumers are also looking for more sales, “using coupons, or maybe even buying in bulk during promotions to kind of mitigate the impact of these price rises,” Attaran. said.

Others are giving up and switching to private label brands. But when you are as big as Procter & Gamble, you can fight back.

“Because P&G is able to spend the type of dollars they spend in marketing, they can keep themselves ahead or on parity with the private label brands that are in that category,” said Phil Kafarakis, president of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.

P&G has increased ad spending by 14%.

“They’re not going to lose too much market share. They might be more aggressive in one quarter versus another and then back off, because I think they have that flexibility. And that keeps them in the game,” Kafarakis said.

Because at the end of the day, if you really like your shampoo and you can afford it, you’ll probably just stick to what you like, even if you’re bitter about the price.

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