Why do tidal capsules look like candy?

New York (CNN) – In 2004, Procter & Gamble was looking for great success.

It’s been two decades since the consumer product conglomerate introduced Tide liquid laundry detergent, revolutionizing the way people wash their laundry. Cheaper competitors and brands were wresting control from Tide.

Procter & Gamble also found that consumers were tired of dragging bulky 3kg bottles of Tide powder, measuring out liquid detergent and pouring it into a glass, then cleaning up the inevitable spills. Doing laundry has become a scary chore.

Three-room Tide Pods design. The product was one of Procter & Gamble’s most successful innovations.

The company needed to develop something completely different that would convince consumers to stop using liquid detergents. He set out to try to develop a palm-sized, liquid-filled detergent pod that would grab the attention of shoppers on the shelf and make washing clothes more exciting.

In 2012, eight years later, P&G finally introduced Tide Pods in the United States, a one-pack of blue, orange, and white concentrated cleanser.

Tides was a huge success. But Procter & Gamble created a product so attractive and attractive that it inadvertently became a public health hazard.

washing pieces

Tide, which hit the U.S. market in 1946 as the first synthetic detergent, has long been one of P&G’s biggest brands on a list that includes Gillette, Pampers, Dawn, Bounty, and other staples in American homes.

Tide dominated the detergent industry and was at one time the largest American brand of Procter & Gamble. Within the company, working at Tide has been a desirable job and often a stepping stone to the executive suite.

Tide Pods weren’t P&G’s first attempt at developing a laundry pod.

In 1960, P&G released the Salvo Tablets, a pressure-fed tablet. It has been on the market for about five years. In 2000, P&G introduced Tide Tabs that were filled with detergent powder. But the company pulled them from the market two years later: the powder tablets do not always dissolve completely and work only in hot water.

“It didn’t come close to hitting targets,” a former Procter & Gamble employee told the Wall Street Journal.

Tide Pods launched in 2012. Here, former CEO Bob McDonald shows an earlier version of the clear Tide Pods design.

P&G’s next attempt, to create a liquid tablet that would eventually become Tide Pods, was a very difficult engineering task. It involved more than 75 employees and 450 different product and packaging graphics. Thousands of consumers were surveyed.

The goal was to “interrupt the ‘wash cycle’ among consumers who ‘automatically pick up’ the detergent,” Procter & Gamble’s North America Fabric Care Products Marketing Director told the New York Times. “We want to change that category with innovation.”

At the 2012 Academy Awards, P&G showed Tide Pods in a bright and vibrant commercial with the slogan “Pop In. Stand Out.” The ad encouraged customers to “pump” tide bags into the washer and watch their clothes “explode” with sparkle. P&G spent $150 million on an ad campaign to launch Tide Pods for consumers.

“Counterfeit Food Products”

Within a year, Tide Pods exceeded $500 million in North American sales and controlled about 75% of the single-dose laundry package market, the company said at the time. The product was so successful that other manufacturers were quick to create similar versions.

Tide Pods have attracted customers with their lightweight design, swirl of blue, orange and white stripes, and a soft, fluffy feel.

Today, it features a patented three-chamber design that separates detergent (the green part), stain remover (white), and bleach (the blue part). P&G did not say why the colors were changed.

Even the packaging of Tide Pods was different.

The company has developed a transparent plastic aquarium-shaped container that clearly displays the pods so that they protrude from the shelf. The researchers found that people also liked how the tide barriers felt in their hands.

The design of Tide Pods reflects a long-standing strategy by consumer product manufacturers to design cleaning and personal hygiene products that display the attributes of food or drink, according to Dr Frederic Basseau, a professor at the School of Economics and Political Science in London, who has researched the trend known as “counterfeit food products”. .

Other examples of this tactic are soda-shaped bottles and posters depicting colorful fruit.

Basu said that by developing products that relate to food, play or other positive experiences, customers are less likely to automatically associate those items with an unpleasant or boring task.

“Clearly, tidal barriers remind people of food, especially food that is prepared to attract children,” John Allen, an anthropologist at Indiana University and author of The Insatiable Mind: Our Minds, said in an email. It’s “bit-size, crunchy, colorful, and a no-nonsense texture, kind of like a cross between candy and chicken nuggets.”

unintended consequences

But the appearance of the tidal beads contained an unexpected threat.

Young children and the elderly with dementia begin to put them in their mouths. Two months after the launch of Tide Pods, nearly 250 cases of young children ingesting detergent capsules were reported.

P&G quickly responded to security concerns by making Tide Pods packs more difficult to open, with a double locking lid on the lid. A year later, the packaging was changed from the original clear plastic that looked like candy bowls to the orange packaging. Since then, P&G has made a number of other changes that have made Tide Pods more child-resistant and improved warning signs.

Procter & Gamble said that accidents in young children are mainly due to improper cuddling and access to the capsules, not the color of the capsules. The company cited a 2017 study that found that color does not play a significant role in accidental exposure to laundry pods.

A Procter & Gamble spokesperson said the company has an ongoing safety campaign on Tide Pods to educate consumers about the proper use and storage of the product. Includes advertising and content partnerships with online parenting channels.

However, laundry detergent capsules from Tide and other companies were implicated in two deaths and twenty life-threatening poisonings in 2013 and 2014. US Poison Control Centers received more than 37,000 calls in those years. It included children under the age of six, according to one study.

P&G has developed several safety innovations for Tide Pods since 2012.

Between 2012 and 2017, eight deaths were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Two cases were young children and six adults with dementia.

In 2015, Consumer Reports said that laundry pods were too risky to recommend due to safety concerns.

That year, Procter & Gamble and other manufacturers adopted voluntary standards for laundry packages with the goal of reducing accidents for young children. Led by Procter & Gamble, capsule makers have agreed to keep capsules in opaque containers, cover them with a bitter or foul-tasting substance, and harden them to reduce the risk of them bursting when pressed.

A P&G spokesperson said the standard has led to a sharp drop in the accident rate in recent years, even as more people are using laundry cans.

Despite P&G’s efforts to make the packaging and design of Tide Pods safer and to warn consumers of the dangers, the Tide Pods “challenge” spread quickly on social media among teens who dared swallow the capsules in early 2018. Tide has partnered with – New England Patriots court Rob Gronkowski ended his public service announcement and launched a safety campaign on social media.

At the time, New York lawmakers asked Procter & Gamble to change the design of Tide Pods to make them appear less edible. State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require all packages of detergent sold in New York to be a solid color “unattractive to children.”

But P&G said accidents happen if a product doesn’t have one color, one color or multiple colors, and there isn’t enough evidence to show that any color is linked to safety improvements.

The company said that storing Tide Pods out of children’s reach is the most important safety precaution.

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