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    Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Millions of People in the Tub … er, Shower

    CPG giant turns to crowdsourcing for inspiration

    How do the top CPG companies come up with new ideas?

    Unilever aims to harness the potential of a concept known as “crowdsourcing” in its mission to create the environmentally friendly shower of the future.

    The global CPG giant is issuing a worldwide call to submit ideas and solutions, with the winning submission eligible for a cash prize and a trip to London to develop the idea.

    Seeing in-home bathing as responsible for a significant proportion of the carbon footprint of shower products and with water becoming ever-more precious, Unilever has identified the need to develop the world’s first commercially viable shower of the future. Proposals must be cost-efficient and affordable to the end user; have an innovative design that fits within a typical modern bathroom; and should use no more than 10 liters of water per use.

    But what’s the philosophy behind what is, in essence, a global suggestion box?

    Phil Giesler, Unilever’s new businesses unit VP, says the move was in line with the company taking increased responsibility for the way in which its brands are consumed, and that it would allow for the potential of crowdsourcing to deliver a coherent solution to a complex challenge.

    The move comes after the announcement of a partnership between Unilever and co-creation community eYeka in order to further tap into its open creativity platform across Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Russia and South Africa. Through the partnership, eYeka’s online community of more than 250,000 creators (including brand marketers such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and Danone) will have the chance to develop ideas for a number of familiar Unilever brands.

    François Pétavy, eYeka’s CEO, says his company’s mission is “to leverage the world’s creativity to enable organizations and people to create a better future together.”

    That’s just one way to leverage the world’s reservoir of ideas. Every company has their own strategies; the best ones result in new products that eventually mature into iconic brands in demand for generations.

    PG honors its favorite new products of the past year with its Editors’ Picks contest – food product winners were just published in our August issue; we shared our nonfood picks in July.

    Meanwhile, elsewhere on the sustainability continuum, candy giant Mars has published its third annual “Principles in Action Summary,” which details the company's approach to business – its progress and the challenges it shares with society while underscoring its commitment to put its Five Principles into action to make a difference to people and the planet through its performance.

    Encompassing themes of its Supply Chain, Operations, Brands, Health and Nutrition, and Working at Mars, the “Principles in Action Summary” focuses on progress Mars has made against its ambitious targets set in 2011 in order to maximize the positive impacts of the business, including its commitment to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 as part of its “Sustainable in a Generation” program.

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