P&G Fabric Softeners & Detergents

Millennials Are Fine Without Fabric Softener, and P&G Looks to Fix That

Marketing push aims to reverse decade-long slide in P&G’s fabric softener products.

First choice, best choice:  Best avoid.  According to the EWG.org guide on these products, these products get assigned a “high concern” for its level of toxicity.  For example, DOWNY SIMPLE PLEASURES LIQUID FABRIC SOFTENER, LAVENDER SERENITY is reported to best avoid because some of the ingredients (some of those that were disclosed and others not disclosed) have potential for respiratory effects such as allergies and asthma.  In addition, there can be skin dermatitis irritations or allergies and known  environmental effects such as chronic aquatic toxicity.  But, more importantly, the fragrance (a non-specific ingredient) can result even in nervous system effects.

Procter & Gamble commands more than half the $1.3 billion U.S. market for liquid softener with Downy and Gain. The company says fabric softener sales have been declining for more than a decade.
Photo credit:  In Lee (Bloomberg News)
The following article is from Sharon Terlep of the Wall Street Journal who posted this article on Decembe 16, 2016.


Procter & Gamble commands more than half the $1.3 billion U.S. market for liquid softener with Downy and Gain. The company says fabric softener sales have been declining for more than a decade.

Procter & Gamble Co. has a fabric-softener problem.

Sales of the product—an often sweetly scented liquid designed to make clothes feel better after a wash—have been declining for more than a decade, hurt by improvements in modern washing machines and laundry detergents, as well as heartier fabrics able to withstand more washings without additives.

The Cincinnati consumer-products giant, which commands more than half the $1.3 billion U.S. market for liquid softener with Downy and Gain, says a new generation of shoppers, the coveted millennials, have accelerated the decline. Shailesh Jejurikar, P&G’s head of global fabric care, told analysts recently that most millennials “don’t know what the product is for.”

Fabric softener was popularized in the U.S. in the 1960s to solve a common complaint that laundry emerged from washing machines feeling rough and scratchy. But those complaints have been less common following changes in detergents and washing machines that have reduced the harshness of washing.At the same time, popular athletic gear often comes with instructions to avoid using softener because it can reduce the ability of fabric to lift and trap moisture.  The result: U.S. liquid softener sales fell 15% between 2007 and 2015, with sales of P&G’s market-leading Downy brand down 26% in that period to $598 million, according to Euromonitor.


For P&G, the problem weighs on in its largest division, fabric care, at a time when the company has been struggling to offset slowing growth of its popular laundry pods. [See below about the TIDE PODS DETERGENTS.]  After years of deep cost-cutting and scant growth, P&G is under pressure to deliver [to the shareholders] sales gains.

P&G’s organic sales—a closely watched metric that strips out currency moves, acquisitions and divestments—have been growing 1% to 3% annually for the last several years. In the years leading up to the recession P&G’s organic sales growth ranged from 5% to double-digit gains.

Millennials and “eco-conscious” consumers are looking to limit the amount of chemicals they use in their homes, dealing softeners another blow, said Bibie Wu, vice president of fabric conditioning for Germany’s Henkel AG, which acquired Sun Products Corp., maker of Snuggle fabric softener.

Some consumer and environmental advocates contend softener is one of many household products that contains potentially unhealthy chemicals. P&G and Sun maintain their products are safe. Downy offers a softener free of dyes and perfumes, and Sun said scent- and color-free products are a growing part of its portfolio.

Karen Repeckyj Vecchione, a 44-year-old mother of three from Doylestown, Pa., stopped using liquid softeners and many other household products after becoming pregnant with her first daughter seven years ago. “I changed a lot of my cleaning substances then,” she said. “I wanted her to have a good, toxin-free start to life.”

P&G views millennials as a prime target for increasing softener sales because consumers in that age group are just beginning to form their laundry habits, either because they are living on their own for the first time, buying a first washing machine or having children, said Nate Lawton, associate brand director for P&G’s North America fabric-care unit.

To that end, P&G changed the wording on its packaging last year. It now refers to the product as “fabric conditioner,” hoping to draw a parallel to hair-conditioner as an integral part of many hair-washing regimens. The company says liquid softener improves longevity of clothes by protecting them in the wash, and makes laundry look and smell better.

“Conditioning is the most intuitive and familiar way to talk about this benefit for consumers,” said Mr. Lawton.

P&G and its laundry-aisle rivals also are trying to fight the downward slide with explanatory ad campaigns touting the benefits of softener, which costs about $3 to $4 for a 50-ounce bottle.

One recent Downy spot features footage from a GoPro video camera inside a washing machine. A man’s foreboding voice describes how doing laundry “wreaks havoc” on clothes, “crushing them with 60 times the G-force of a rocket launch and baking them in a dryer that can get hot enough to cook ribs.”

How about this DOWNY ad?  



It is a commercial designed for consumers like Nicholas Stephan, a 26-year-old from Fort Wayne, Ind., who grew up using only detergent. Frustrated that his clothes were getting worn out faster than he could afford to replace them, Mr. Stephan recently went to the store in search of a product that would help. After trying dryer sheets and other items he realized he was buying the wrong products. “It turns out I really needed fabric softener,” Mr. Stephan said.

Both P&G and Henkel said softener sales are responding to the marketing push and have improved in recent months. That also is because of new offerings such as so-called scent boosters—small beads that consumers put in washing machines to keep clothes smelling clean longer. U.S. softener sales across all brands were up 5% for the 12 months ended Oct. 1 compared with a year earlier, according to Nielsen ratings.

To significantly boost sales, consumer-products companies should focus on wooing more traditional customers, a feat that likely would require profit-eroding discounts that P&G and rivals have tried to move away from, said Kurt Jetta, CEO of TABS Analytics, a retail- and consumer-analytics firm.

Still, Mr. Jetta says it will be hard to convince American families to spend more on laundry. “Even if you are affluent or have above-average income, it’s an area where people are looking to save money,” he said.–WSJ



TIDE POD DETERGENTS have been in the news a lot because children have ingested them and ended up in the hospital.  See the article below.  And yet, P&G feels that the remedy to this problem to the adult buyers:  Use two or more single Tide Pods in a wash or better to use packets a load might be better….However, EWG.org reports it is better to avoid them, giving the majority of these TIDE PODS an “F,” because the product register in all the possible health effects:  asthma/respiratory; skin allergies and irritations; developmental and reproductive toxicity; cancer; and harm to the environment.

Laundry packet poisonings increase in kids

  • More than 22,000 children were exposed to laundry detergent packets in a two-year period
  • Calls to poison control centers increased 17%, an analysis shows
  • Data reveal that laundry packets are more toxic than other detergents


Children continue to eat a dangerously large number of laundry detergent packets, new data show.  Calls to poison control centers increased 17% from 2013 through 2014, according to an analysis of national poison data published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.  More than 22,000 children, mostly under age 3, were exposed to laundry packets in that period. About 30% of them were “already in or en route” to health care facilities when the call for help came in.

The data identified life-threatening problems that occurred only when children were exposed to packets of laundry detergent, including cases of children who stopped breathing, went into comas or suffered cardiac arrest. Two children died. The packets can also cause vomiting, throat burns and eye injuries.

The researchers said the findings demonstrate that laundry packets are more toxic than other detergents like laundry powder or dishwasher packets.

“Differences in chemical composition and concentration between laundry detergent packets and other types of detergents may account for the higher toxicity observed,” they wrote.

The packets, introduced in the United States in 2012 as a less messy alternative to detergent powder, may attract children with their colorful designs and strong fragrances.

Some contain only granules, but others contain liquid, which when ingested doubled a child’s odds of being admitted to a medical facility, the data show.
P&G, which makes detergents including Gain and Tide, has set up ad campaigns to emphasize safety in households that use the packets and says it has made its packaging more difficult for children to open.
“Accidents happen regardless of a laundry pac’s color or design, so we are focused on reducing access to the packet and its contents,” Shailesh Jejurikar, president of P&G Fabric Care, North America, said last year.
The researchers’ recommendation:  Parents of children under age 6 should use traditional laundry detergent to wash clothes. They also noted an additional 14% increase in calls to poison centers concerning exposures to detergent packets for dishwashers.
The vast majority of children get into detergent packets at home, when soap containers aren’t stored out of sight, locked in a high cabinet or monitored closely while open.
And here’s how to poison them some more:  make a toy!  
Why would you ever want to buy a product from Procter & Gambles when their bottom line is to their shareholders and not to their customers?
The cancer- causing ingredients in the pods are, apparently, in the colors!

From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

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