Playing to Win | A.G. Lafley

Summary of: Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
By: A.G. Lafley


Embark on an insightful journey into the business world of strategic decision-making with ‘Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works’ by legendary former CEO of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley, and former dean of the Rotman School of Management, Roger L. Martin. Get a rare glimpse into P&G’s transformation journey as the authors walk you through the evolution of their strategic process that led the company back to profitability and growth. Acquire practical knowledge on making tough choices within a volatile landscape by exploring the five essential strategic questions along with real-world case studies, most notably, the turnaround of P&G’s Olay line.

Winning Strategies

Legendary former CEO of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley, and former dean of the Rotman School of Management, Roger L. Martin, present a playbook for developing winning strategies in a stressful and volatile business environment. Lafley’s experience led him to realize that strong strategy is the key to success, and he worked with Martin to develop a robust framework to teach these concepts to others. They explain how P&G reorganized its internal processes, outsourced functions to “best-of-breed” suppliers, and built mutual dependencies. Lafley’s approach helped P&G to return to profit and growth during his tenure as CEO, with sales and profits growing and share prices up 80% even when the S&P 500 fell. The authors stress the importance of making tough choices in business and avoiding haphazard acquisitions and flawed products. The book provides valuable insights into creating a strong strategic process and offers an inside look at the successful approach used by one of the world’s most respected companies.

Winning with a Purpose

In “Playing to Win,” Lafley and Martin argue that companies should focus on discovering their strengths and target customer segments instead of trying to win everywhere. They introduce the five essential questions to ask when developing a successful strategy: (1) What is our winning aspiration? (2) Where will we play? (3) How will we win? (4) What capabilities must be in place? (5) What management systems are required? By answering these questions, businesses can make tough choices and achieve high-impact wins. A winning strategy requires a coordinated and integrated set of choices.

Restructuring Oil of Olay

This book highlights how P&G restructured its beauty product line, Oil of Olay, to compete in the increasingly competitive beauty market. P&G faced the challenge of either creating a new brand or extending its existing successful brands into the skin care market. The decision to restructure Oil of Olay was based on its wide product recognition and the emergence of a new market of women in their mid-30s. P&G rebranded the cream by shortening its name to “Olay” and changed its merchandise, model, and marketing to create brand loyalty among its target audience. The restructuring effort led to a significant increase in sales and positioned P&G as a leader in the skin care market. The book offers useful case studies, with much of the focus on P&G product lines such as Olay.

“Masstige: The Art of Marketing to Both Mass and Luxury Markets”

In their book, the authors Lafley and Martin discuss the concept of “masstige”, a combination of mass market and prestige, where marketers offer a high-quality, luxury item to mass-market buyers that fits their needs without compromising on prestige. P&G launched the Olay Total Effects product for $18.99, which successfully reached both mass-market and high-end buyers. Although P&G had internal debates about the product’s pricing strategy, they found $18.99 to be the right price point. This ultimately led to P&G’s expansion of the masstige marketing strategy, including luxurious, high-end Olay Pro-X. Through this strategy, P&G was able to turn Olay into a $2.5 billion brand with high margins and targeted consumers “squarely in the heart” of desirable market segments.

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