P&G LATHERS ULTRA CASCADE FOR ARIZ. TEST CONCENTRATE TAKES ON PALMOLIVE

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Procter & Gamble Co. in October will begin testing Ultra Cascade automatic dishwashing detergent, adding yet another product to its steady stream of "ultras."

The Arizona test will include Ultra Cascade in both powder and liquid gel versions that will replace the existing line of 20-, 30-, 40- and 60-ounce products. Cascade Regular powder and Cascade Liquigel Lemon still will be sold in their current 50-ounce size.

The more concentrated Cascade has been reformulated to deliver better cleaning with half as much product. The package is 30% smaller and has been redesigned to be easier to use, carry and store. The test also will include introduction of a new Fresh Scent version.

A 30-second TV commercial from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, will support the test.

P&G isn't the first to offer a concentrated automatic dishwashing detergent. Benckiser Consumer Products USA beat everyone to market with its Electrasol brand two years ago and Colgate-Palmolive Co. introduced Palmolive Ultra in a powder version in November 1993.

But if P&G's Ultra Cascade test succeeds and the product goes national, it will "legitimize the whole concept in this category," said Heather Hay, analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities, New York.

Cascade is by far the leading automatic dishwashing detergent, with a 51.2% share in the $503 million category for the 52 weeks ended July 3, according to Information Resources Inc.

Still, No. 3 Palmolive posted the best sales growth, 5.6%, for a 9.3% share, suggesting that consumers are responding to its concentrated formulation.

If any company knows the power of "ultras," it's P&G. The marketer pioneered the ultra laundry detergent category four years ago and now is introducing nationally the country's first ultra liquid household cleaners under the Mr. Clean and Spic & Span labels (AA, Aug. 22).

P&G in October will test Ultra Folgers coffee in Evansville, Ind. (AA, Aug. 15).

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