Procter & Gamble is wading further into the “laundry convenience” category by taking its Tide Swash—a product aimed at consumers trying to put off doing laundry—national this month via e-retailers Amazon and Drugstore.com.
The move follows P&G’s test market of the products in Columbus, Ohio, and, most recently, Lexington, Ky., last fall. Swash, which carries the tagline, “Swash it out,” targets both young professionals and college students by providing a way to instantly refresh and remove wrinkles from previously worn pieces of clothing without hitting the laundromat.
In keeping with its target audience, P&G is selling the products—a wrinkle remover spray, odor eliminator, stain erase pen and moist dryer sheet that removes smells and wrinkles—online only. (In fabric care parlance, they are known as “smooth it out,” “fresh it up,” “get it out” and “steam it out,” respectively.)
Advertising, which is being handled by Strawberry Frog, Digitas and DeVries Public Relations, consists of online media units running on e-commerce partners’ sites, PR and sampling and promotion on the P&G word-of-mouth network Tremor. (If you Google “Tide Swash,” most of the hits are from early December by bloggers discussing the product giveaway.) A pack of three “get it out” stain removal pens sells for $12.99 on Amazon. A “Swash Variety Pack,” meanwhile, is priced at $15.99.
The push comes as Tide has lost share to cheaper priced and private label brands in a recession. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj said that when consumers trade down, they “generally find those products clean their clothes just as well.”
Swash is just one of the ways P&G hopes to battle private label via innovation. Indeed, fabric care execs think Swash satisfies a broad, unmet need in the market.
In its research, P&G found consumers would sometimes let their clothes steam while in the shower, while others stressed about how to keep a designer pair of jeans clean without washing away its colors, said Alejandro Bethlen, brand manager on Tide adjacent products.
“Clothing is much more important to this target than it has been to other consumers,” he said, adding that there is demand for products that instantly touch up or refresh an article of clothing. Until now, he said, there have not been many products on the market that do that without compromising on time or quality.
P&G, though, is positioning Swash as more of a personal-care than fabric-care product. Swash allows consumers to “care for their clothes, just like how they care for their bodies.” It fits that modern lifestyle of “on the go, always being active and going from one part of your life to the next,” said Tide North American associate marketing director Suzanne Watson.
P&G is not the only one to see an opportunity to make doing laundry more convenient. In May, competitor Henkel introduced a multi-purpose fabric care sheet called Purex Complete 3-in-1. Like its name implies, the product, also aimed at millennials, boasts the capabilities of laundry detergent, fabric softener and a dry sheet all in one.
Consumer trends toward convenience are propelling sales of products like Purex Complete 3-in-1 forward, said Henkel laundry care marketing vp Eric Schwartz. In the last six months alone, the sheets have been “selling at twice the normal rate” among its core group, meaning consumers ages 18 to 24 were two times as likely to have tried Purex Complete 3-in-1 compared to their “predicted purchasing of liquid laundry detergent as a whole,” he said.
Though P&G considers Swash to be one of the pioneers in this segment of “caring for clothes between washes,” Schwartz said plenty more laundry care products—all geared toward convenience—are to come.
“There is a lot of marketplace headroom for growth [in this category],” he said, adding that both the P&G and Henkel launches are “the latest entries and [certainly] not the last either, by either of us or others.”