Retail in Asia

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P&G chief wages offensive against rivals, risks profits

Procter & Gamble Co. CEO Robert McDonald is mounting a two-pronged attack on a very different battlefield – the global consumer-products industry. His missions: to win back ground lost as frugal shoppers have opted for cheaper alternatives to P&G’s goods, and to conquer countries now dominated by rivals like Unilever PLC and Colgate-Palmolive Co.

World domination wasn’t always a priority at P&G. For generations, the company focused more on boosting US and European sales by rolling out new versions of old products. But the long recession and creaking recovery have undermined that strategy as frugal US shoppers prefer cheaper alternatives to P&G’s goods.

In response to the changing US market, the company is doing the once unthinkable – slashing prices – at the same time as it pushes into new territory, including Brazil, India and parts of Africa, where it has long lagged.