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Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Kathryn A. Jones

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In Direct Competition

Gamble’s son, James Norris Gamble, a trained chemist, in 1879 developed a formula for an inexpensive soap to compete with high-quality imported castile soap based on olive oil. Produced in cake form, the soap was designed mainly for washing clothes. The chemist became interested in using other raw materials for soap, including vegetable oils, which produced a lighter soap that floated. Eventually, Harley Procter, the founder’s son, gave it a new name—Ivory Soap—based on a line from the Bible’s Book of Psalms: “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad.”2 Ivory Soap made Procter & Gamble glad, too. The product and name, which identified the soap as pure and long lasting, became so successful that the company opened a new factory. When Procter & Gamble learned that the soap’s key customers, mainly housewives, were shaving off slivers from the bars of soap to make it easier to use, they introduced another product, Ivory Soap Flakes, the precursor of modern powder detergents. That experience enticed Procter & Gamble to conduct more market research and launch a new concept: mass-marketed, consumer-driven brands. More soap products soon followed, including the Lenox brand. Procter & Gamble became so well known for soap that daytime radio serial programs such as Ma Perkins, which the company sponsored, were dubbed “soap operas.” Later, in the 1950s, Procter & Gamble shifted its national advertising ...

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