The wacky world of soap powder

tide.jpgNifty piece in the WSJ on the unintended consequences of those pre-measured detergent pods. The dirty little secret in the soap powder game is that consumers use way too much than required - and it's more prevalent with the advent of concentrated detergent that comes in smaller, easy-to-handle boxes. But the whole point of pods, which were developed by Procter & Gamble, is not to overdo it, which means using less detergent than before, which means buying less of it. Detergent sales are down 5.1 percent compared with the pre-pod age. Profit margins for pods are as much as 5 percent lower than for the liquid stuff. From the Journal:

The sales downturn has set off an unusually frank debate in the industry over when innovation goes too far, and it has led to finger-pointing about who might be at fault. James Craigie, the outspoken chief executive of Church & Dwight Co., CHD -1.16% which sells low-price detergents under the Arm & Hammer and Xtra brands, has an answer: P&G. "Pod is killing the laundry detergent category," Mr. Craigie said at an industry conference in February. New products ought to expand the revenue pie for manufacturers and retailers, not shrink it, he said. That is what innovation always did in the past, he said.

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