Swiffer Sweeper Gives Itself a Sleek, Clean Sweep

The problem: Procter & Gamble knew its Swiffer brand couldn’t just be any dirt picker-upper on a stick. While the brand had revolutionized cleaning for many people, not everybody was a fan. Those who snubbed their noses at Swiffer generally weren’t attracted to the product because they perceived traditional cleaning methods to be far more superior. So, Swiffer needed to up its ante against that old standby: the mop and broom. This redesign—which was implemented in-house at P&G—was designed to draw more consumers to the product. “It’s about improving and delivering that more detailed and thorough clean,” said Swiffer Sweeper assistant brand manager Guerin McClure of the challenge. Current users, too, can upgrade to “that specific [level of] clean they’re looking for,” he added.

How was it created: With its crisp turquoise and neutral hues, the original Swiffer, like many late-1990s products, seemed to have been inspired by the first iMac. However, the bulky swivel head made sweeping under the furniture more of a chore than a modern convenience. This next generation sibling sports a sassy green color scheme and a new head design that’s “squared off” in the corners to allow for sleek, easy dirt pick-up. Gone, too, are the thick edges, which have been replaced with new, scalloped ones that “come down to a pretty thin point,” McClure said. And oh, anyone who has come close to sacrificing a finger to the old Swiffer’s pointy cloth-grabber teeth, will be happy to learn that version 2.0 has been made more user friendly and streamlined with soft slots that grab the duster and keep it in place.

Finishing touches: Once it got a grip on the handle and the headstock, Swiffer set out to improve its dust collectors: the dry and wet cloths. After analyzing both cloths’ current textures, P&G researchers concluded that they needed better designs for both to zap dirt. Out went the dry cloth’s V-shaped ridges that the manufacturer had been using since 2006, and in came new, honeycomb, hexagon-shaped, individual dirt trappers that pick up 50 percent more dirt, dust, hair and crumbs, Guerin said. (Wowzers, so we can eat, sleep and play with our pets on the couch?)  The wet cloths, on the other hand, underwent a texture upgrade and its cleaning solution now traps 25 percent more dirt.. Swiffer has been advertising the makeover—which includes, among other things, a new, ergonomic handle and stronger, 360-degree swivel head—via television, online and brandSAVER! coupon book efforts. Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, is the lead ad agency while Starcom MediaVest Group handles media buying duties. Swiffer was also the official cleaner of Paramount Pictures’ Hotel for Dogs. According to IRI, sales of the Swiffer Sweeper have increased 1.04 percent for the 52 weeks ended March 22.

Sweeping changes:
The original Swiffer had a nice form, but it took a little time for function to follow. The bulky swivel head made it difficult to reach into corners and under furniture.

All squared away:
New, dry cloths containing honeycomb dirt trappers pick up 50 percent more pet hair, among other dust nuisances. Point is: “Why go part clean when you can go all the way clean?” McClure said of the brand’s new, improved performance.

Dust in the wind:
The old packaging didn’t show off much of the product. The new starter kits give a peek of the swivel head and relay cleaning as a fun experience. “New. Stronger Sweeper. Deeper corner cleaning,” the label says. All right, we’re sold. Goodbye, mop and broom. (Loud clang in closet.)