P&G Tests Tide Pickup Laundry Service in Chicago

Wash, Fold, Repeat: Test Is Similar to 2000 Effort, But Adds an App

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Courtesy Procter & Gamble
Courtesy Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tide has launched a test of a home laundry pickup and delivery service in Chicago -- the packaged-goods giant's latest in a series of efforts to get into services.

Tide Spin last month launched into a limited beta test in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood (Zip Code 60614), complete with an app for Apple and Android smartphones.

With the slogan "Life over laundry," the service offers wash-and-fold service for everyday laundry at $1.59 a pound, toward the low end of such services nationwide, which charge 90 cents to $3, according to Angie's List. Dry cleaning is also available at prices comparable to drop-off dry cleaning, including $2.49 for a shirt and $11.99 for a suit, with no delivery fee or minimum order.

A spokeswoman in an e-mail said, "Tide Spin is for the busy consumer, often located in urban areas, who sees the value of outsourcing many tasks that take too much time." She said the test would have "limited scope and duration," but declined to describe the next steps.

Aside from the app, Tide Spin appears to have a similar to a service P&G tested in Atlanta in 2000 under the name Juvian, ultimately mothballing the idea a year later. Then in 2008, P&G started testing Tide Dry Cleaners. There are now around 30 Tide Cleaners, including two in western suburbs of Chicago that will help handle dry cleaning needs of the new service. TideSpin.com promises to use products from such brands as Tide and Downy on everyday wash.


But P&G's service efforts have gotten limited traction, despite hopes (or in the case of competitors fears) the giant might dominate fragmented industries like dry cleaning. Nearly eight years in, Tide Dry Cleaners are a small fraction of a multi-billion-dollar U.S. industry with more than 20,000 stores, according to data from franchisehelp.com. Mr. Clean Car washes have fewer than a dozen locations in Georgia and Texas. And after trying MDVIP, a concierge healthcare operation in 2009, P&G sold it back to its original owner five years later.

Still, the allure of laundry service for big CPG players remains. Rival Unilever tested MyHome, a similar laundry service in the U.K., in 2000. And as that company looks to partner with potentially competitive startups through its Foundry effort, one concept it's looking at is "an Uber of laundry," said Jeremy Basset, head of the Unilever program, last year.

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