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The History of Softsoap

Robert R Taylor was driving to work one day after looking at the bar soap by the sink and thought that it was extremely messy and there must be a better way. He started by creating a marketing concept, then created a liquid hand soap through home experimentation. He called his new product Softsoap and originally planned to sell it through his small company, Minnetonka Corp, in 1980. However, he realized that if his product caught on, giant companies like Johnson & Johnson (where he had once worked) would simply copy his idea for liquid hand soap in a pump bottle and put him out of business. To combat this threat, Taylor leveraged his company for everything it was worth — $12 million — and then purchased 100 million bottle hand-pumps from the only two American companies that made them. He purposefully created a backorder so large that the two firms would be unable to manufacture the pumps for any of his potential competitors for over a year, which he reasoned would give Softsoap time to catch on and become established. He was correct — in fact, his savvy move would later be ranked by the industry trade publication Inc. Magazine as one of the top three shrewdest business moves ever made. And it was — in just six months, Taylor sold $25 million worth of Softsoap and established his brand’s place in the market. He then sold the brand to Colgate-Palmolive in 1987. Today, Softsoap is one of the most popular liquid hand soap brands on the market and is sold nearly everywhere.

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