Business Week published its 50 Best Performers in the magazine's April 6th issue. The caption, "Our 13th annual ranking of the top-performing companies in America shows innovation remains a powerful engine of success." No surprise there.

Consumer product companies have long known that continually filling the pipeline with innovative new products is one of the keys to success. A fascinating array of product and service companies occupy the top 10 slots. Colgate came in at #5 and the commentary on the company is very interesting. Its new product that's out to launch: the Wisp.
BW's methodology for its selections is too wordy to relate in a blog, but worth reading. I urge Daily Fix readers to go to this link to understand the BW process.
Bottom line on Colgate:
Stagnation in real business growth in the U.S. coupled with fierce competition from rival P&G's Crest brand spurred Colgate to push its products into overseas markets, read: developing parts of the world.
The company's last truly innovative product occurred with the launch of Colgate Total toothpaste in 1992, even though 17 new oral care products were launched by Colgate in the U.S. last year.
Colgate needs a new star to create more growth–and excitement–for the brand overall.
In spite of these facts, Colgate tops the worldwide market with a 45% share for toothpastes and 30% share for manual toothbrushes.
Colgate sales rose by a healthy 9% in the fourth quarter and the company's CEO is projecting "similar growth in 2009".
What's Colgate banking on in 2009? The launch of its new Wisp. The Wisp is a disposable mini toothbrush with "breath-freshening bead" in the bristles. When brushing, the bead dissolves. No toothpaste or water necessary. Ideal for use at work or for travel. Plus: a pack of four Wisps will retail for about $2.39.
Industry analysts have seen these kinds of products launched in the past with minimal success abroad. They also site that P&G's Crest brand bombed with its tooth wipes, dubbed Oral-B Brush Ups in 2004. Will the Wisp be any different? With all new products, market positioning, messaging and more than anything–timing–are keys to success, or failure.
What's good here is that Colgate has now renewed its company focus and drive on innovation, opening up new innovation centers to reach this goal: "A series of novel personal-care and household items that would expand Colgate's customer base and business in mature markets such as the U.S. and Europe". Very important to ensure long-term success, agreed.
What do you think of the concept of the Wisp? Do you think the market is ready for this? Will it be successful?
Would you buy this product? Why? Why not?
What kinds of innovations would you like to see in oral care? What would you say to Colgate?
I'd love to hear from you.

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Will a Wisp Propel Colgate Forward?

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni