P&G unwraps trio of products in Always line

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Procter & Gamble Co. is going on the offensive with a three-pronged rollout of Always Clean & Dry Ultra feminine pads, Always wipes and a new Always multipack to reverse the brand's sudden share slump.

TV and print ads from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, break in mid-March for all three products, which began shipping to retailers earlier this month. Spending figures weren't disclosed, but P&G has spent more than $50 million annually advertising the brand in recent years, and one retailer said he expected increased support behind the new products.


Clean & Dry offers a softer quilted lining and improved absorbency in Always' thin Ultra line, while the multipack is a variation on a similar packaging scheme for P&G's Tampax brand, offering in the same box pads of various sizes and absorbency levels for different stages of menstruation, a spokeswoman said.

Always Wipes -- which are flushable feminine hygiene wipes available in tubs and travel packs -- address what a spokeswoman said are concerns expressed by 80% of female consumers who want to feel more "clean and fresh."

The launches come as the once high-flying Always brand sees its market share erode for the first time in more than six years. From 1994 to 1998, Always' share grew from 29.8% to 42.1%, allowing P&G to leapfrog K-C for category leadership.

But Always' share of the $1.3 billion category dropped 2.4 share points last year, according to Information Resources Inc., while Johnson & Johnson Personal Products Co. gained 1.8 points and Kimberly-Clark and private label each edged up about 0.4 points.

Kimberly-Clark and Johnson & Johnson each rode the success of 1998 product upgrades, including a "safety zone" improvement for K-C's Kotex and "four-wall protection" for J&J's Stayfree.

After more than a year without ads for Kotex, K-C backed the safety-zone launch with $25 million in ads via Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, from October 1998 through September, according to Competitive Media Reporting. J&J, handled by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, more than doubled its spending on Stayfree since 1997, laying out $20 million in 1999. Despite P&G's $50 million budget for Always last year, the brand hasn't had a major product improvement since 1996.

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