Tide Basic….For Those Who Don’t Mind Kinda Clean

by Marianne Richmond on August 5, 2009

TBjP&G, are things really THAT bad?

When I first began reading the article in the Wall Street Journal all I could think about was that it sounded like a SNL skit….P&G is testing a line extension to Tide called Tide Basic,  and “it lacks some of the cleaning capabilities of the iconic brand — and costs about 20% less.” Hmmmm, it costs 20% less than….will my clothes be 80% clean?

A quick glance at the Tide website shows photos of about 16 different Tide products all seemingly offering all kinds of varieties of clean: with bleach, with stain scrubbers, with a touch of Downy and a pinch of Febreeze. I assume that all of these line extensions have their own price points but all of these products choices are about the positive. They all are “with” something; something that presumably will make my laundry cleaner, cleanest, better best  except of course for plain orange Tide which just stands alone…and stands for “clean.”

OK, I know we are in a recession (oh, boy do I know it!) and I know consumers are buying more store brands, using coupons and otherwise trying to survive the recession. But consumers in this current economic mess we are in want more for less or at least the same for less, not less for less, from their trusted Brands. Tide’s main purpose is to clean dirty clothes. The added Downy, Febreeze, or even Bleach provide an added benefit that upgrades from clean. Tide Basic,  it seems downgrades from clean which I think must really mean, still dirty.

Maybe I would be better off if money is tight to wear my clothes a little longer and then wash them in something that makes them clean?? Or maybe that store brand that promises “clean for less.” This recession really stinks…do I have to also??

If I may quote from P&G’s outgoing CEO A.G. Lashley from his best seller,  The Game Changer, regarding Charmin’s introduction of Basic Charmin: He is talking about consumer’s different expectations for toilet paper based upon a consumer expectation analysis.  He says, “This segmentation is alive and actionable. Today, the Charmin organization has created its entire innovation pipeline tailored to its priority consumer segments—insuring each innovation focuses on delighting its target consumer on what’s most important to her…Charmin Basic—a toilet paper innovation that provides basic cleaning with minimal acceptable softness that is sold at a good price.”

Cleaning, basic cleaning, is the key product attribute for toilet paper; the softness factor is nice but it is an upgrade, like Downy, Febreeze or my personal favorite for laundry, Simple Pleasures. Mr. Lafley’s book is about driving revenue and profit growth through innovation. 20% less clean doesn’t seem to fit his definition of innovation.

Or another quote from Game Changer, “making the consumer the boss.” The consumer IS the boss; they were not granted boss-ship by corporations. The consumer has always been the eventual boss; technology has made the consumer the “real time” boss. They will have the last word on this one.

In my opinion,  a company that once defined brand management and who most recently seemed to define innovation, the introduction (albeit into a 100 store test… but also a front page WSJ story) of this AlmostTide, is a bit off.

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