After a long hiatus from pitting major companies against each other to see how they stack up in patent prosecution, we're back, taking a look at two of the largest consumer goods companies in the world: Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever.
P&G is the world's largest consumer goods company. It was founded in 1837 in Cincinnati by William Procter and James Gamble, both of whom were immigrants from the United Kingdom. At the outbreak of the Civil War, P&G supplied the Union Army with soap and candles, thus exposing a large and geographically diverse swath of the country's population to their products. One of their earliest and most innovative of these products was Ivory Soap, which was famously marketed using the slogans "99 & 44/100% pure" and "It floats!" During the Progressive Era of United States industrial history, P&G introduced an early profit-sharing program designed to keep their employees from participating in the numerous strikes of the day, a strategy that was ultimately successful.
Truly staples for most American consumers, some of P&G's most popular and recognizable brand names include Charmin, Crest, Febreeze, Gain, Tide, Vicks, Gillette, and Pampers.
Unilever is the world's third largest consumer goods company, eclipsed only by P&G and Nestlé. It was founded by the 1930 merger of the Dutch margarine company Margarine Unie and the British soap maker Lever Brothers, and has dual headquarters in Rotterdam and London. After World War II, the company went on an aggressive acquisition campaign, acquiring Lipton, Pepsodent, and Good Humor, which gave the company control of 30% of the Western European ice cream market. Subsequent acquisitions of Klondike, Popsicle, Ben & Jerry's, and Breyer's have made Unilever the world's largest ice cream manufacturer.
Some of Unilever's most popular non-ice cream products include, Dove, Hellman's/Bestfoods, the recently-acquired Dollar Shave Club popular with millennials, and Axe, which can be found in inadvisable amounts in every high school locker room in America.
Chances are, you use at least one product each of these companies manufactures every day. Such is the ubiquity of these two titans that they have, along with their co-competitor Nestlé, all but cornered the consumer goods market in the United States and Europe. But how well does each do when it comes to obtaining patent protection for their hundreds of innovations? Find out below. Hover over the segments of each graph for additional details.
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