In this prolonged down economy, consumers are deciding that they don’t need to dine at the fanciest restaurant, buy a new wardrobe for every season, or even wash with the top-of-the-line laundry detergent. This trend was duly noted by Procter & Gamble, maker of the premium-priced Tide. With the Tide brand experiencing some of the steepest sales declines in its 62-year history, P&G looked for a way to compete with cheaper private label soaps by issuing a no-frills version of Tide. Instead of its continuous promise of “New and Improved,” P&G opted to remove some of the pricier cleaning additives from its Tide formulation in order to slash the cost by more than 20%.
Attaching the Tide name to this down-market soap, however, was fraught with peril. How do you make sure that Tide “loyalists” remain faithful to the higher-priced “true” Tide, while implying to thrift-conscious shoppers that this version — although not as good — had Tide qualities that made it superior to budget generics?
P&G delineated this difference by calling the product “Tide Basic,” with the emphasis on Basic. The packaging design also had to signal a distinction between the two soaps, while still connecting the Tide brand with the Basic name. From a marketing standpoint, this required delicate surgery. Tide’s bright orange bull’s eye and slanted blue letters have been an ever-present part of the packaging design since the product was introduced in 1946. Making this trademark too prominent on the lower-grade product threatened to tarnish the reputation of the regular Tide brand. Then again, abandoning the familiar orange and blue on the packaging could turn Basic into just another unknown, wannabe detergent product. Basic needed to tout its famous lineage to give it a shelf “leg up” over no-name generics. In addressing this dilemma, the packaging designers arrived at a compromise – a subdued and smaller Tide orange bull’s eye shown on a soft yellow box, with Basic called out large in slanted outlined blue letters. The signature yellow color for Basic looks clean and inviting, although a bit anemic compared to Tide’s boldly confident orange. That may be a message in itself and the right market positioning for a product that is Tide but not really Tide.
Tide Basic, available in powder only, is now being test-marketed in 100 stores throughout the southern U.S. Before launching it into broader markets, the company is moving cautiously to make sure that their Basic approach is sound.