Has Tampax got a problem on its hands with Pocket Pearl?
Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine and a whole lot of reviewers on Amazon certainly think so. Reviewers on Walmart.com not so much. And Procter & Gamble Co. says the product has been exceeding sales expectations since it launched last summer -- though spokeswoman Laura Dressman said the company is looking to improve the design to prevent problems it estimates around 1% of users are experiencing.
Pocket Pearl last summer replaced the popular Compak as a redesigned and presumably improved smaller, discreet tampon to fit unobtrusively into small purses or pockets -- averting the potentially embarrassing gaze of bouncers at clubs, security guards at sporting events, or anyone else for that matter.
But the product gets only a 1.8-star average rating out of 5 possible from 62 Amazon reviewers, mainly about failures of the applicator, which cause tampons to not go in properly, break, or get stuck in the applicator.
It's not clear why women who buy their tampons at Walmart or on Walmart.com are having better luck. But 782 Walmart.com reviewers give Pocket Pearl an average 3.7-star rating. Even there it's a somewhat polarized group, with 407 reviewers giving it 5-star raves and 190 giving 1-star rage. Some – but not a majority -- of the ravers are noted to have received free product through Walmart.com's invitation-only Spark reviewer program.
Tampax does have videos showing how to use the Pocket Pearl applicator, including on Walmart.com, but not on Amazon. But neither the videos nor a toll-free hotline for Tampax are new or in response to Pocket Pearl problems, as some media coverage suggests.
The video may not help with women who've had trouble -- "I'm 38 years old and if I need to watch a YouTube video on how your product works YOUR PRODUCT DOES NOT WORK!" says one unhappy customer at Walmart.com.
Overall, Tampax has gained 0.5 points of market share in Tampons for the 52 weeks ended March 8, according to Nielsen data from Deutsche Bank. But the brand has lost 0.6 and 0.9 points in the most recent 12- and four-week periods respectively.