Tide’s Answer To Slumping Sales? Use More Detergent Pods!

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

While shiny, candy-colored detergent pods have poisoned many thousands of kids who mistake them for toys or treats, they’ve been success for detergent brand Tide and its parent company Procter & Gamble. So is it a coincidence that Tide’s new recommendation that customers use as many as three pods per load comes amid an overall sales slump in the detergent category?

The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of liquid detergent are down nearly 9% since pods first hit the market in 2012, and powdered detergent has dropped by nearly a third. Those decreases have both been offset to some degree by the 140% growth in pod sales, but pods still only make up about 15% of the market. Thus, overall detergent sales are down around 5% during the pod era.

So how is a company like P&G going to make up for the lost sales? Apparently by convincing people that they need to use more detergent to get their clothes clean.

Recent Tide ads feature users holding two pods at a time, and the company is now recommending that pod users deploy three pods for their largest load, making Tide the only company to do so (for now).

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P&G tells the Journal that this is just a response to customer feedback; that customers are using larger machines and cramming more into them.

However, some competitors disagree.

“It’s clearly a way to boost sales,” said John Replogle, says the CEO of Seventh Generation, which is launching its own pods later this year.

When pods were introduced, they were advertised as a way to avoid the waste of liquid and powdered detergents, with their imprecise measurements. The idea was that a single load would require a single pod, but most brands now recommend up to two at a time for large loads.

One big problem — aside from all the various safety concerns — is that these pods already cost significantly more per “dose” than their counterparts.

Say a Tide pod costs you $.25 on average. The equivalent in liquid detergent will only run you $.19. Yes, that’s only six cents, but when you start doubling or tripling up — and then multiplying by all the loads you’ll wash over the course of a year — that’s a significant price difference.