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Dial Eco-Smart Pouches Refill Store Shelves

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Dial has begun shipping three new varieties of its liquid hand soap refills: Aloe, Pomegranate and Tangerine, and White Tea and Vitamin E. The soap brand, a subsidiary of Henkel, is touting the refills as an eco-friendly alternative via in-store and coupon marketing.

Dial Eco-Smart Pouch Refills come in 40-oz. flexible pouches that are spill-proof and are meant to replenish already used soap bottles. They're priced between $3.97 and $4.99.

The refills will be marketed via in-store floor displays and $1 off coupons offered to shoppers.

Juan Serrano, Dial's senior brand manager, said the product offers several "green benefits" to consumers—which are also listed on the floor displays. “When compared to bottle refills, pouches use 67 percent less plastic, require significantly less energy and fuel to produce and transport. [This] lessens the impact on landfills,” Serrano said.

While a price point of close to $5 may have some analysts worrying whether consumers are willing to trade up for everyday necessities such as soap, a report published last month by The Boston Consulting Group found that shoppers in the U.S., Europe, China and Japan are actually more environment-conscious in tough times. In a separate survey conducted last month, the firm also found that 32 percent of U.S. shoppers either look for or buy green products on a “systematic” basis.

Getting consumers to trade up to more exotic varieties is a smart marketing strategy, said Lynn Dornblaser, new products expert at Chicago-based market research firm Mintel. (The soaps also come in other varieties like Spring Water and Antibacterial Hand Soap with Moisturizer.) "Consumers think of it as a little bit more of a treat product,” Dornblaser said.

William Engler, svp-strategy and research at BrandLogic, however, sees it differently. “Refills are a very tough business . . . This fights a very big trend of downsizing, even Costco understands that more people prefer multi-packs of furniture polish versus one big eco-friendly can,” Engler said.

Dial Eco-Smart Pouch Refills are now hitting store shelves nationwide. Henkel spent $0.2 million marketing its Dial liquid hand soaps in the U.S. through November 2008, down from $1.8 million in 2007, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.