Tide Tests the Waters of Chicago’s Wash-Dry-Fold Market
A few months ago, Proctor & Gamble decided to expand its Tide brand to include a retail, wash-dry-fold model.
Using the successful Tide Dry Cleaners franchises as an example of what to expect from this new wash-dry-fold business segment – which is being called Tide Spin – it’s obvious that the company is heavily committed to promoting its brand with strong service and a quality product. Currently, P&G is operating Tide Spin’s only location at the moment.
The company’s test market for Tide Spin is within a limited section of Chicago. Clearly, this is a great way for P&G to push its Tide brand, as well as all of its other laundry-care products. (As an aside: when it comes to over-the-counter laundry chemicals and cleaning solutions, Tide is certainly one of the better products available. Personally, I wish laundry owners who offer wash-dry-fold would use higher-quality cleaning products such as Tide, if they choose not to purchase commercial-grade detergents. It truly bothers me to see store owners buying the cheapest detergent possible while claiming to deliver a premium product – and more than a few wash-dry-fold operators throughout the country are guilty of this.)
Tide getting into the game and lending its brand to the full-service laundry business is great for our industry. To me, Tide entering the marketplace feels somewhat similar to when Washio got into the industry. Of course, however, there is a major difference between the two – Washio was a startup, and Tide is a seasoned company with truly one of the largest, most trusted brands on the market.
So, what does all of this mean to the individual wash-dry-fold operator?
Here’s what we know about Tide’s drycleaning businesses: they all are franchised – with a focus on strong training, solid programs and processes, aggressive marketing, and high standards in place to ensure that the brand is not only prevalent but also associated with top-quality products and services. And, from what we’ve learned about the Tide Spin model so far – which, again, is currently limited to just a select number of Chicago-based ZIP codes – the company is approaching its wash-dry-fold segment with a similar thought process.
One of the big changes to the wash-dry-fold industry has been the growing popularity of the pickup and delivery model. Tide Spin is addressing this trend in two ways. The service offers scheduled, in-person pickups and deliveries in the evenings, when customers are home. However, during the day, the company reverts to more of a route-based wash-dry-fold pickup and delivery model, where customers leave their garments in a secure place to be picked up. In essence, Tide Spin is offering two versions of home pickup and delivery – the on-demand model and the route-based model.
In addition, Tide has partnered with Chicago-based startup Starchup – already a player in the competitive, app-driven pickup and delivery industry – to develop Tide Spin’s customer app and software to help manage the business.
I personally tested the new Tide Spin wash-dry-fold service and, as you can see from the photos, the company has fabulous branding. One of the more unique touches the company has brought to the table is the way my laundry load was personalized with a sticker featuring the name of the employee who processed my clothes. Great idea!
Tide appears to be following in the footsteps of its leading global competitor, Unilever – with a strategy of adding more brick-and-mortar locations in an effort to further support the brand. And, if the company truly follows the pattern of its Tide Dry Cleaners locations, there eventually will be opportunities for wash-dry-fold operators throughout the country to partner with Tide as a franchisee. What’s more, multiple opportunities may arise, as Tide’s model (unlike Washio’s) likely doesn’t include operating its individual stores; based on its drycleaning operations, Tide’s model would be to open franchised locations throughout the country for others to run. So, we may see a business model develop, where laundromat owners can partner with Tide and perhaps even have the Tide brand attached to their store’s brand at some point. However, for now, P&G continues to operate Tide Spin.
Whatever the future may hold, Tide stepping into the marketplace, acknowledging that wash-dry-fold is a growing business and making a strong commitment to this segment of the industry definitely heightens the awareness of this service and product – and hopefully will bring a tremendous amount of added value to all of us who regularly process wash-dry-fold laundry. In fact, I’ve been projecting continuous growth for this portion of the laundry industry all along – and I’m more confident than ever in my prediction now that Tide has jumped into the fray. This industry development will be helpful to all of us.
With innovative ideas from Tide’s marketing department and a partnership with a strong software provider, Tide Spin has a great chance of outlasting Washio’s shortened, ill-fated run in the wash-dry-fold industry – and actually advancing the revolution of how home laundry loads will be done in the future.