Picture it: It’s an ordinary evening. You’ve had a day filled with meetings, writing a press release for a client and lunch with a reporter. You’re finally home. You’ve pulled on your favorite sweats for an evening of wine and Dating Naked when you take another look at the shirt you wore that day, tossed over the back of a chair. You kind of want to wash it but you think, “Is it really that dirty?” What’s a person to do?
[Insert image of wide-eyed man/woman shrugging in an exaggerated manner.]
You Swash it!
At least that’s the conclusion that P&G wants you to come to. The company will sell a $500, four-foot-tall machine that uses “gel-filled pods” ($6.99 for a pack of 12 single use pods) to “neutralize odors,” rid a garment of wrinkles and restore its fit. It’s not really washing. Not really dry cleaning. It’s “swashing.” The machine will be available at Bloomingdale’s next month.
The target market for this item is what The Wall Street Journal calls the “re-wearer,” someone who feels the item they just wore isn’t really that dirty so they want to get one more wear out of it.
“The new Swash system is designed to appeal to a higher-spending group of fashion-conscious people, with closets full of hard-to-care-for items such as sweaters, embellished tops and premium denim,” reports the WSJ. In other words, clothes that don’t come from H&M.
This new product is brought to you through a P&G partnership with Whirlpool. Now that the stigma of re-wearing clothes has gone away, the story says, the companies want to tap a new niche market. It’s meant to be a 10-to-15-minute process. Mike Grieff, P&G’s research and development director for new business creation and innovation, describes it as a “microwave for your clothes.”
On the one hand, this is totally impractical. There are a lot of people who don’t have a closet like the one in the image above (we’re in New York), so creating space for yet another gadget is a hassle. Adding another chore in an already packed schedule doesn’t seem possible. And spending the money seems a waste.
However, this comes from the folks who turned Febreze into a success after it had trouble catching on. For those who don’t know the story, Febreze was not catching on with consumers. It was marketed as a way to get odors out of fabric. Then the brand realized that people don’t detect a lot of the bad smells that surround them. A little market research showed that consumers respond when they think of Febreze as part of the reward in the housecleaning process — a tidy room with a fresh smell. A reworking of the message doubled sales.
It sounds like they’re angling to kind of do the same thing here. They sense a gray area between fresh out the wash and “Yeesh, did I run a marathon in this?” and they want to add a step to the laundry process that they can market and make money off of. If you’re spending the cash on designer duds, this extra step, you could be convinced, is totally worth it.
For “Swash,” let the convincing begin.