Marketing 50

Clorox ReadyMop

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Neither home cleaning nor Wal-Mart-besieged supermarkets and drugstores have exactly been sexy businesses in recent years. But Clorox ReadyMop rekindled growth in both areas when it launched early last year.

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Swiffer WetJet power mop, priced around $50, had beaten ReadyMop to market by four months but was limited mainly to big-box mass merchants such as Wal-Mart Stores and Target Stores, clubs, and do-it-yourself chains. Many supermarket and drug chains passed on a product with a bulky package and high price point.

Then came ReadyMop, a pump-operated floor mopping system without WetJet's battery power but with a more compact package and priced around $20. Despite the later start, ReadyMop quickly jumped into segment leadership.

ReadyMop rang up $200 million in first-year sales, including food, drug, mass and Wal-Mart outlets, according to Information Resources Inc., making it Clorox Co.'s biggest new product ever and among the top 10 package-goods launches of the 21st century to date.

Strong retail support was perhaps the biggest key to ReadyMop's success, says Chris Vickers, 35, the Clorox marketing director behind the launch and an eight-year veteran of the laundry and cleaning business.

Beyond that, ads from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, focused on ease of use over technical prowess. TV, print and online ads ran in a campaign that included prominent placement of ReadyMop on such shows as ABC's "The View."

"Mopping's not highly technical, but it's a pain," Ms. Vickers says. "Instead of focusing on efficacy [like Swiffer], we were talking about making the experience easier for the consumer."

It didn't take long for P&G to adjust and cut WetJet's price close to ReadyMop's. That, plus strong Year 2 marketing support, have helped WetJet regain share leadership in recent months. But Clorox still holds a 10% to 7% edge in household penetration, Ms. Vickers says, which buys an edge in the number of homes wanting or needing to buy replacement supplies.

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