Unilever smells a new opportunity

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Package-goods brands have tried getting closer to consumers for years: Now Unilever's Snuggle fabric softener is taking the ultimate step by getting into bed with them.

Unilever is rolling out a scented pillow sachet and refresher spray kit under its Snuggle brand to coincide with a new Slumber Scent for the brand's liquid and dryer sheet fabric softeners. It's all backed by $9 million in TV, print, outdoor and interactive ads from Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, breaking July 17 and running through November. Unilever also plans newspaper coupons for Aug. 16 and Oct. 10.

The sachet kit, Unilever's first extension of the Snuggle brand outside conventional fabric softeners, is the latest package-goods play in a growing move to capitalize on consumers' infatuation with bath-and-body-shop-style fragrances.

Colgate-Palmolive Co., for example, gained ground on Procter & Gamble Co. in liquid dish soaps with last year's launch of aromatherapy-style scents of Palmolive Spring Sensations. Colgate currently is introducing a new line of heavily perfumed hand and body soaps under its Softsoap brand, backed by more than $100 million in ads from Y&R Advertising, New York.

BEAR-SHAPED

Lever's two pillow sachets are shaped like the Snuggle bear advertising icon, and come packaged in a kit expected to sell for less than $4 at retail. The accompanying spray refreshes the sachet when its scent begins to fade. The sachets are meant to be tucked into pillowcases.

One supermarket buyer likened the move to efforts by package-goods marketers to match scents in soaps and deodorants, or Unilever rival P&G's recent move to offer two coordinated scents for its Gain laundry detergent and Bounce fabric conditioner sheets.

"These sachets are something that sell pretty well at bath and body shops, apparently, but they're not something we're going to bring on," the buyer said. "Maybe down the road we'll look at it."

But a buyer for another chain said she expected the product could help bring some sales from the growing bath-and-body fragrance category to the laundry and cleaning aisle.

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