Tide pods: useful or silly?

Procter & Gamble is making a major marketing effort with its new Tide Pods, which seek to “[add] a whole new dimension to laundry, with an innovative look, feel and performance. The question is, is this innovation for innovation, or is it really a measurable benefit for the end user?

Pods are small soluble sachets containing three washing ingredients that are separated, such as epoxy or explosive chemicals. The idea is that you throw a packet in the laundry – relieving yourself of the difficult tension of pouring liquid into a mug – and then it dissolves.

Something that surprised me is that the ads for the product (click here if you want to see them, I can’t embed them, they’re just too dumb) don’t seem to target the people who would benefit the most: laundromat users. Back in the days when I lived in an apartment with no washing machine, I certainly would have preferred to take a few Pods into the block rather than hauling the gallon jugs I would buy to save money.

Also, a fun metric featured in P&G’s product announcement is that the Pods “took years of development … and over 450 packaging and product sketches.” Four hundred and fifty presentation boards would impress me; four hundred and fifty sketches, not so many, especially over the years.

In an article on Tide Pods, the Times makes an interesting claim:

Tide Pods are indicative of a trend that is gaining ground in the marketing of basic household brands, which you might call envy of Apple. Giants like Procter, Clorox, Reckitt Benckiser, and Unilever are continually looking to deliver distinctive new products that pique the curiosity of consumers who crave high-tech items like smartphones and tablets (iPad type, not laundry type).

I admire thinking to the extent that things like smartphones and tablets can greatly enhance our experience of the often uninspiring tasks that we have to accomplish; but do you, readers, think that this thought can be accurately translated into household chores? Let us know in the comments.

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