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Tide Pods Overcome Bad PR with Big Sales Win

Finally, thanks to Tide Pods, laundry-doers everywhere have been delivered from the painstaking multitude of steps required to open a bottle of laundry detergent, measure it out in the cap and pour it into the washing machine. Rejoice!

The convenient, colorful, pre-measured pouches have been advertized as the biggest laundry innovation in a generation, and the public seems to agree — Tide forecasts $500 million in earnings from Pods’ first year of sales. And this fact is even more remarkable given the parade of PR hiccups that the product has encountered since its release in February.

First: thanks to supply shortages, Pods came to market six months late lacking the retail promotions usually afforded new products. In fact, the supply shortage is still something of an issue–Tide keeps smaller packs in storage and excludes the product from all company coupons.

Tide’s biggest PR challenge, however, concerns repeated reports of children eating the small, brightly-colored Pods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this happened nearly 500 times in May and June alone (yikes!),–and the revelation drew public ire from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., who said: “The incidents are skyrocketing…These pods were supposed to make household chores easier, not tempt our children to swallow harmful chemicals.”

But that’s not all: Sun Products, the maker of All Mighty Pacs (which are very similar to Tide Pods), also sued Tide’s parent company P&G for patent infringement.

And yet, with $226 million in sales through Nov. 4, Pods have earned a 73% share of the $309 million unit-dose segment at retailers including Walmart and some club and dollar stores. In comparison, products made by All, Henkel’s Purex, Church & Dwight Co.’s Arm & Hammer and Phoenix Brands’ Fab, Ajax and Dynamo have a combined $83 million in sales.

We guess this just goes to show that sometimes brands can eliminate PR and damage control challenges simply by offering a product or service that people really, really want. The American public clearly wants to make laundry just a little bit easier (despite the fact that it pretty much does itself).

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