When Procter & Gamble Co.announced last spring that Tide Pods would be on store shelves in September, it appeared to have a first-mover advantage in the biggest laundry innovation in 25 years.
But now, with the launch delayed nearly six months, Tide faces a pod war. A slew of ultra-concentrated detergent "packs" that are slated to hit stores in February are expected to ratchet up marketing outlays in the category by nearly $300 million.
Big things are at play here. It's a chance for media and marketing agencies to grab those dollars and a chance for the laundry category to reverse a sales decline as consumers used lower-priced products or did fewer loads to save money. And marketers of all stripes struggling with speed-to-market issues will be watching to see how P&G fares.
In addition to Tide's expected $150 million push, Henkel is putting at least $50 million into its Purex UltraPacks. Competition is also coming from the All Mighty -- Pacs that is -- as Sun Products prepares a $25 million launch for its take on unit-dose liquid detergent.
Church & Dwight Co.'s Arm & Hammer is rolling out Toss "N Done Power Paks early next month, and Phoenix Brands is launching concentrated detergent packs across three brands -- Fab, Ajax and Dynamo. Both Church & Dwight and Phoenix are introducing dry crystal or powder products.
They join Dropps, a small, eco-positioned brand of liquid-detergent packs marketed mostly online via such sites as Walmart Stores.com and Amazon.com in the U.S. since 2010. Dropps, which had $2 million in offline sales for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 25, according to SymphonyIRI, will try to weather the onslaught by launching ultra-concentrated fabric-softener packs to go with its detergent packs.