Despite it all, with $226 million in sales through Nov. 4,
according to SymphonyIRI, Pods have earned a 73% share of the $309
million unit-dose segment year-to-date in outlets including
Walmart and some
club and dollar stores. Offerings from All, Henkel's Purex, Church
& Dwight Co.'s Arm & Hammer and Phoenix Brands' Fab, Ajax
and Dynamo have a combined $83 million in sales.
Tide's share in the segment is more than double its 36 % share
of liquid detergent or 29% in powder, so the launch and production
delays that allowed competitors to come to market simultaneously
haven't prevented Pods from winning handily.
Sales in the broader $7.2 billion laundry-detergent category
were down 0.2% for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 4. But Tide sales, which
had been flat to down since the 2007 recession, were up 9% thanks
Interestingly, P&G VP-North American Fabric Care Alex Keith
told an analyst conference Nov. 15 that much of Pods' volume comes
from value brands, even though it's the most-expensive product in
laundry. In part that 's because Pods marketing has redefined
"value" to mean efficiency more than price. Its ads, from Saatchi &
Saatchi, Digitas and Starcom Mediavest
Group, have focused on how much more concentrated cleaning power
Pods provide compared with value brands.
So who are Tide's pod people? There is some evidence that the
brand is particularly popular on college campuses and among
apartment dwellers, and people who have their washers in the
basement (about 22 % of the U.S. population).
And there's still room for growth, since P&G hasn't ramped
up production enough to meet potential promotional demand.
Just how well Pods or unit-dose products broadly are really
doing, however, depends upon whom you ask. Church & Dwight Co.
Chairman-CEO James Craigie suggested on a Nov. 5 earnings
conference call that unit-dose products may actually hurt the
category. One reason, he said: "People tend to overdose liquid, and
you can't overdose unit dose."
Some other industry executives said that while unit-dose
products have reached 7% of laundry sales, retailers were hoping
for 15% by now, and that remains well short of the 30% P&G has
ultimately projected for the segment.