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In the United States, laundry tablets have never been very popular. Americans prefer to pour their liquid detergent, which allows them to feel like they have control over the amount they add to the wash basket, depending on the size of the load and the degree of dirtiness of the clothes.

Yet Dial’s latest product is not a tablet but a laundry sheet, similar to the dryer sheets used as fabric softeners. This 3-in-1 product includes laundry detergent, fabric softener, and antistatic agents. The water cycle dissolves the detergent, and the dryer heat releases the fabric softener and antistatic agents.

The new product is 20 percent more expensive than buying the three products separately from Dial, but it is 20 percent less expensive than purchasing premium brand versions of the three items. Dial hopes to move up-market by snagging premium customers that want to save money; it does not anticipate selling many to core customers, unless they are willing to pay a premium for the added convenience.

However, because 75 percent of consumers use dryer sheets and 50 percent use fabric softeners, many of them might see little value in having all three products in one, because they were only buying one or two laundry products in the first place. Proctor & Gamble has tried to enter this market with Tide Rapid Action tablets but has not been successful.

To make the product as convenient as possible, Dial designed a container with a flip-open lid; the sheets can be grabbed and placed into the washing machine with one hand. Many customers do their laundry with one hand while holding a phone or a child in the other.

Finally, the ad campaign for the product will show the evolution of cameras, televisions, and women’s fashion, suggesting that the way we do laundry also may be changing. The commercial ends with a phrase: “As things get simpler, they get thinner. They get better.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why have laundry tablets failed in the United States in the past?

2. Do you think Dial’s 3-in-1 product will be successful in the United States?

 

Ellen Byron, “Purex Tackles Tough Market, Using New Spin,” The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2009.

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