Arm & Hammer Rolls Out First Gel Detergent

Countering its image as a value brand with innovation, Arm & Hammer has introduced the first gel detergent into the U.S. market.

The product, Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Power Gel, is positioned as a more potent cleaning agent than rival powders and liquids. A TV spot, from Ferrara & Co, states that there’s “more power in every drop” in the detergent, and shows a white shirt stained with dirt, sauce, grass and chocolate getting a thorough cleaning. The TV and print ads also play on the novelty of the gel via puns like “people everywhere are getting gel-ous” and stating that the product has “maximum gel-osity.”

Kevin Kuchinski, vp-fabric care for Arm & Hammer parent company Church & Dwight, said the hope is that consumers will associate the gel format with “something we’ve seen in the medicine cabinet—faster pain relief, stronger action.” Kuchinski said the concentrated gel form also results in being 50 percent less expensive than comparable liquid detergents.

David Lockwood, director of consumer insights at Mintel, said the Arm & Hammer brand is still perceived by may as a value player in the category. Playing up innovation is one way to counter that. “It’s a significant launch,” said Lockwood. The product also falls in line with a trend towards combining benefits—in this case, the stain fighting of OxiClean and the odor protection of Arm & Hammer, Lockwood said.

Since most major detergent makers—including Procter & Gamble and Henkel—are selling gel-based detergents abroad, Lockwood speculated that, if the Arm & Hammer product is a hit, rivals would be quick to roll out their own gels in the U.S. “It seems like an easy thing to do,” Lockwood said. Kuchinski, meanwhile, said he would “not be surprised” to see other gels on the U.S. market soon.

Arm & Hammer spent $37 million advertising its laundry detergents in 2009, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co.