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After 2 Years On Web, P&G Puts Align On Shelves

Procter & Gamble will sell Align, a dietary supplement for abdominal maladies, in Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS and Meijer stores in Cincinnati, Dallas and St. Louis. It has marketed the pill for two years via a Web site and a toll-free number, as well as through doctors who specialize in stomach ailments.

The move to store shelves is part of an experiment that taught P&G a lesson in how to launch new products by going directly to the consumer, rather than starting at retail. "This is a different way than P&G is used to launching" a product, says Kristin Harper, Align's brand manager. Most of P&G's new products go straight to stores.

The Align test taught the company lessons that might prove useful with future launches. Selling Align over the Web for two years gave P&G control over its pricing, for example. Normally, retailers would set the price for a new product. It's also been a lesson in developing a product for a niche market--people with digestive problems--and shifting it to the general market. P&G hopes to market Align as a daily dietary supplement that anyone can use and to ultimately make it available nationally.



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