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Consumer Products & Creative Services

Over 200 companies and 5,000 local employees

View the Cincinnati USA Partnership's consumer products & creative services industry profile

Cincinnati is the birthplace of two backbones of modern business: consumer research and brand management.

In the early 1920s, D. Paul "Doc" Smelser organized a unit to help P&G understand how its products were being used. He discovered that the company was unable to answer the most basic questions, like "What percentage of Ivory soap is being used for face and hand cleaning versus dishwashing?" To lay the groundwork for how products should be marketed based on how they were being used, he organized a special department to study consumer habits and modern consumer research was born.

Cincinnati is also credited with inventing and perfecting brand management. Neil McElroy, another P&G executive, penned a now-famous memo in 1931 that articulated a different vision for organizing business centered on brands. It was an epiphany that continues to shape the way most companies worldwide are organized today and why Cincinnati remains a "city of brands."

Nowhere in the world is there a larger concentration of advanced brand design consultancies. The advertising of brands may be centered in New York, but the creation and design of brands is clearly a Cincinnati story.

From conceptualization and initial consumer research to implementation of integrated marketing and advertising campaigns, Cincinnati USA firms focus on every step needed to take a brand to market.

The world has taken notice that Cincinnati has emerged as a major center for branding and design.

Cincinnati's Global Companies Drive Creativity
Driving Cincinnati's burgeoning branding industry is a strong core of global companies. Home to nine Fortune 500 companies, Cincinnati USA is among the nation's top 10 clusters of these multinationals. The region also boasts the headquarters of 15 Fortune 1000 companies. Nearly 370 Fortune 500 companies and 300 foreign firms have a presence within the region. Key anchors include:

  • Procter & Gamble- Now the world's largest consumer products company, P&G has prospered since it was founded in Cincinnati in 1837. The company has one of the largest and strongest portfolios of trusted brands, including Pampers, Tide, Pantene, Bounty, Folgers, Pringles, Charmin, Downy, Iams, Crest, and Olay. Estimates show that nearly 100 P&G brands touch the lives of people around the world some three billion times a day.
  • Macy's Inc.- Established in 1929 when Abraham & Straus of Brooklyn, Filene's of Boston, F&R Lazarus & Co. of Columbus and Bloomingdale's of New York decided to unite, Macy's Inc. remains the nation's largest department store retailer. Strong branding has been crucial to the company's success as it has evolved in recent years into two nationwide brands: Bloomingdale's and Macy's.
  • The Kroger Co.- Now one of the nation's largest grocery retailers with over $60 billion in annual sales, The Kroger Company spans numerous states in America's heartland and beyond. The company's supermarkets, warehouse stores, multi-department stores, convenience stores, and mall jewelry stores operate under nearly two dozen banners- including Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, Hilander, QuickStop, KwikShop, and Barclay Jewelry. All share the same belief in building strong local ties and brand loyalty.

Fast Fact: In every grocery store aisle in the world, there is at least one consumer product branded by a design firm in Cincinnati.

A Creative Culture
Cincinnati's creative class is fueled by a steady stream of artists, designers, web developers and others who graduate each year from four acclaimed educational institutes in the region that focus on the art of design. These students are a powerful source of fresh ideas, talent, and vision; both through internships and work study programs while they are still in school and afterward when they enter the workforce. The quartet of schools keeping Cincinnati's creativity quotient high are:

  • University of Cincinnati- College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP)- Center for Design Research- Consistently ranked in the top tier of American and international design schools, the University of Cincinnati's DAAP programs have grown in quality and diversity since they were established at the turn of the 20th century. UC's DAAP programs recently received a $421 million grant to advance the school's technology and academic impact. The college has also won a $1.88 million grant from Ohio's Third Frontier high-tech jobs initiative. Students in the cooperative education program, now one of the largest in the nation, spend between four and six quarters working in the field during their college careers. Through partnerships with local industry and government sponsored research and design projects, they graduate with solid credentials and experience.
  • Distinguished alumni of DAAP include:
    • Michael Bierut, principal of Pentagram, world renowned graphic design studio.
    • Michael Graves, renowned architect, theorist, and industrial designer
    • Stan Herman, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America
    • Jerry Kathman, CEO of LPK, the world's largest employee-owned brand identity agency
    • Eva Maddox, interior designer and prolific author best known for Branded Environment
  • Northern Kentucky University- Department of Art- offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in 15 degree programs ranging from graphic design to photography. The Department of Art requires that aspiring artists, designers, and art educators take a comprehensive program of general education courses, visual arts disciplines, and studio training.
  • Art Academy of Cincinnati- Founded as a museum school over a century ago, this small, independent college of art and design has about 200 students enrolled in its four undergraduate degree programs focusing on fine arts, communication arts, art history, and graphic design. The academy also conducts a Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) program for art educators during the summer semester. The school is known for its intimate atmosphere conducive to learning, experimenting, questioning, and producing.
  • Art Institute of Cincinnati- Founded in 1976 to offer a practical, innovative curriculum that "keeps up with the times," the Art Institute was the first to introduce a computer graphics major in Cincinnati. The school became a charter member of the International Council of Design Schools in 1983 and continues to maintain a progressive policy toward arts education.

For more information about the region's consumer products & creative services cluster, please contact the Cincinnati USA Partnership at 513-579-3721 or the City of Cincinnati Economic Development Division at 513-352-2499 or



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