But Procter & Gamble Co.'s flagship detergent brand keeps dodging the "mature" label.
Sales were up 12.2% in 1995 to $1.5 billion, according to Information Resources Inc. Of the $194 million overall sales increase in the U.S. category, Tide alone accounted for $160 million. And Tide's 36.7% share of the $4 billion market was its highest since 1959, according to R. Kerry Clark, P&G's President-U.S. Laundry and Cleaning Products.
Mr. Clark, 44, says P&G's "washday miracle" keeps growing mostly by sticking to its 50-year-old marketing formula: "A noticeably superior product, strong [testimonial] advertising and a strong retail presence."
Recent Tide marketing focuses on the latest in a long line of improvements: carezyme, an additive that keeps cotton fabrics from fading and fuzzing. Also, P&G added the Cotton Inc. endorsement to Tide packages in 1994, a tactic first used with its No. 2 Cheer brand.
"The difference was that the Cotton Inc. endorsement [for Tide] was really the start of a broader campaign," Mr. Clark says. It includes testimonial ads from representatives of such apparel marketers as Haggar Apparel Co., Oshkosh B'Gosh, and L.L. Bean.
The ads, from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, were a new twist on co-marketing and the down-to-earth homemaker testimonials that have been Tide staples.
"Our business rises and falls on the strength of the advertising, less so on the promotions," Mr. Clark says.
But in promotion, too, co-marketing is playing a bigger role, as P&G increasingly uses co-op direct mail, TV and print campaigns with retailers.
"Instead of focusing on the price," Mr. Clark says, "it allows us to focus on building the brand equity and bringing a message about the product as well as the retailers."