In 1879, the Proctor and Gamble company’s best seller was candles. But Thomas Edison had just patented the electric light
bulb. Within a short space of time, the market for candles had collapsed and the company were in trouble.
However, destiny turned their fortunes around. At their factory in Cincinatti, a forgetful employee had one day gone to lunch and forgotten to turn the candle-making machine off. When he returned, he found a mass of frothing lather filled with air bubbles. Rather than discard the batch, he decided to turn it into soap. To his surprise, he found that the soap floated.
At that time, many people still bathed in the Ohio river. The idea of a soap that floated and never got lost appealed to them. Thus Ivory soap was born and became the mainstay of the Proctor and Gamble company for many years to come.
Moral: Many innovations are the result of chance discovery and customer need.