But that's exactly what Procter & Gamble Co. did with Quilted Bounty Rinse & Reuse, which has grabbed 7% of the $2.3 billion paper towel category since it was launched nationally in March 1997.
Rinse & Reuse has accounted for nearly all category growth in the last year, according to P&G. Rinse & Reuse, priced at about a 20% premium per sheet over regular Bounty towels, helped P&G build dollar sales even as its unit volume remained relatively flat.
The towel is 50% thicker when wet than regular Bounty, which lets consumers use it to clean up a spill, then wring it out and reuse it, though it can't be put aside and reused after it dries out.
P&G also sent 17 million single-sheet samples of the towels to consumers in co-op mailings with retailers, eliciting 2,000 rave reviews from consumers, according to Tim Penner, VP-general manager of the tissue-towel-facial category for P&G.
"The reaction absolutely blew the doors off our record for consumer reaction to a sample drop," says Mr. Penner, 42.
Marketing included TV advertising by Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York, that continued Bounty's "Little kids, big spills" campaign while showing the towel being reused to clean up a big spill.