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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tide takes competition to the cleaners.

I love the idea of consumer packaged goods masters getting into the service arena. Long considered the worldwide leader of the consumer packaged goods industry, how would it turn out if Procter & Gamble were to package a service experience?

The Tide Cleaners slogan is “A brand you trust. Quality you’d expect. Service you’ll love.” They’re right. As a trusted product brand, expectations of a Tide-branded cleaner are high. But the execution level-of-difficulty is higher in a service environment than for the product offering. The service delivery operation is more complex, while the experience is delivered through hard-to-control intermediaries.

Fortunately for Tide Cleaners, they're up against some easy competition in the drycleaning services market. The cleaners I’ve used provide the same service out of nondescript locations in strip malls, usually looking more like the failed business they’ve been converted from than any concerted attempt at a service environment. It always surprises me that as far as service environments go, drycleaners are amongst the least clean – not exactly confidence instilling.

Tide takes the traditional model and gives it a much needed infusion of service and brand experience.

The environment is clean, well-lit and with a fresh, coordinated paint scheme that reflects the brand colors. Signage makes the location look professional and provides a physical separation between backstage and service areas. Service employees are consistent with the environment, similarly branded and presented in Tide orange.

You can already see what we know about P&G at work. While I’ve always assumed my drycleaning service options included “clean”, “please see if you can remove that stain” and “light starch”, Tide has branded their experience with trademarked “Spotlift”, “Freshscent”, and “Color Guard”, while offering premium drycleaning services for restoring faded clothes of all types to their original colors.

Like every other dry cleaner in the local area, Tide Cleaners also has a rewards program. Unlike every other cleaner, they tell me what I receive beyond the free drop bag and a modest discount, to include special access services, members-only promotions and a “birthday gift”.

They’ve also advanced some service innovation, with a 24 hour drop off box, and 24 hour access lockers for after hours pickups in addition to their premium cleaning services. I don’t know how many times I have wished for both of these capabilities, and I can’t wait to use them. Finally, they commit to searching out and replacing broken or missing buttons free of charge. Missing buttons have been happening on my clothes for so long that I had come to accept it as a part of the cost of having clothes professionally cleaned.

The Tide brand carries heavy expectations as to what an associated service experience should feel like. On all counts, it delivers on those expectations in a way that not only reinforces my perception of the Tide brand, but has also resets what I expect from an experience with every other cleaner I might ever come into contact with, assuming I ever need to.


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Anonymous said...