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March 3, 2014

Tide Detergent Double Downsizes AND Raises Prices

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

  Procter & Gamble recently decided to make certain varieties of Tide detergent more costly for shoppers. Based on a Wall Street Journal story, the company appears to be raising prices an unheard of three ways simultaneously.

It seems to be passing on a straight list price increase of about 13% to retailers on Tide+ products. But it is also downsizing the product AND apparently diluting it (or making you use more).

Note to readers: We use the words “seems to,” “apparently” and “appears to” because P&G has used “pr-speak” (a.k.a. “spin”) in response to very pointed questions about these changes, as noted at the end of this story.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

Tide+ varieties with special scents, fabric softener, etc. are being downsized from 100 ounce jugs to 92 ounces — an 8% drop in contents.

But, not content to raise the price AND put less product in each bottle, you are now going to get fewer loads per bottle than even an 8% drop in contents would work out to.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

The traditional 100-ounce bottle was enough for 60 loads according to the package, while the new 92-ounce product only provides 48 loads. So an 8% drop in contents somehow translates into a 20% drop in the number washes you get. Huh?

That sounds like P&G is somehow diluting the product and/or making you use more per load. A look at the back of the bottle reveals the secret.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

According to the old bottle, you could get 60 medium-size loads of wash done by filling the cap to line 1. With the new bottle, you are instructed to fill the cap to line 2 for the same medium load and advised you will only get 48 such loads when used this way. Being told we have to use more to get the same job done suggests that the product has been diluted. Alternatively, we are simply being told to use more so we finish up the bottle faster. Medium load users in fact will be using more detergent per load if they follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, but large load users will be using the same amount. (Line 3 in the new cap is where line 2 was in the old.)

We asked P&G to explain these changes with very explicit, pointed questions. Here is how the company responded:

*MOUSE PRINT:

1. Why is Tide downsizing from 100 ounce to 92 ounce jugs?

With the introduction of the new Tide Plus Collection, we have standardized the load sizes across variants (previously there were 5 differing load designations per same size bottle based on the variant) to make shopping the line easier.

2. Are you in fact also raising the price to retailers of Tide+ products? If so, by an average of about how much?

I cannot share our pricing strategies. The significant performance innovation behind this new introduction will carry an average 13% list price increase (on a cost per load basis) but it is important to note that it will be retailers that set the price that consumers pay.

3. How is it that an 8% drop in contents (from 100 ounces to 92 ounces) results in a 20% drop in loads in each bottle (60 loads down to 48)?

This is not a direct correlation; we have upgraded the formulas which has impacted dosing.

4. Is the product the same formula, for Tide+ Febreze, for example, in both the 100 ounce and new 92 ounce size?

We are bringing significant innovation behind the launch of The Tide Plus Collection, providing a one wash wow with even more of the performance and fabric care benefits consumers expect from Tide

5. Have you diluted the product necessitating having to use more, or are you just telling consumers to use more than before for the same size load? (Old instructions: fill to line 1 for medium loads; new instructions: fill to line 2 for medium loads.)

We have updated the usage to align with the formulation and the increasing size of wash loads. — P&G Fabric Care Communications/Corporate Media Relations

The bottom line is this: Getting less detergent in the bottle, having to use more product per load, and paying a higher price at the store means consumers are really being taken to the cleaners.

• • •

21 Comments

  1. The answer to #5 (“updated the usage to align with the formulation”) deserves some sort of prize for obfuscatory language! But it sounds like they did dilute it.

    Comment by Phelps — March 3, 2014 @ 6:09 am
  2. Orwellian doublespeak as practiced by passive-aggressive corporate doublespokespeople.

    Comment by Marty — March 3, 2014 @ 7:21 am
  3. Since they did not clarify, I’m assuming the cap did not change when they changed bottle sizes. Did anyone compare the volume of the old #1 line and the new #2 line ??

    This is why I very rarely buy Tide and when I do I totally disregard the cap and use a smaller measuring devise which only rarely results in still dirty wash. This started when I found the lines very hard to see and I knew would likely accidentally use more soap. Less soap equals more loads since I’m not usually washing terribly soiled clothes to start with. Just because “they” say to use X amount of soap doesn’t mean it takes that much and sometimes, if you’re washing something filthy, it takes more.

    Edgar replies: The caps are exactly the same size. Only the place placement of the lines varies inside the cap. Line 2 for medium loads in the new cap is higher up than line was for medium loads inside the old cap. (But, surprisingly, the placement of the line for large loads in both is identical but for their numbers.)

    Comment by J in VA — March 3, 2014 @ 7:46 am
  4. There should be a corporate double-talk competition similar to the Olympics. The acrobatics to answer those questions without seeming deceptive is very good.

    They diluted the product and increased the price. Simple as that. I’m confused about how a product called “Tide PLUS” would need to use MORE product to do the same job as “Tide REGULAR”. Doesn’t seem very plus to me.

    Tide was either recommending too little, want consumers to use the product at a faster rate, or diluted the product. I can’t think of any other reasons for the change.

    Comment by Wayne R — March 3, 2014 @ 8:33 am
  5. New formulation = diluted.

    Comment by Ken — March 3, 2014 @ 9:20 am
  6. This has to be the biggest claim of denial I have ever seen from a corporation.

    I think I am done buying Tide.

    Comment by Max — March 3, 2014 @ 9:28 am
  7. Wayne, it’s called Tide Plus because you have to add more soap, the plus seems very appropriate :)

    Comment by Peter — March 3, 2014 @ 9:37 am
  8. Notwithstanding all these changes, Tide costs double the price of all the other name brands. At one point, they briefly advertised ,they did not dilute as much as others. Now, they have joined the crowd.
    The former CEO, a 30 year employee, was fired about a year ago. They brought back the previous guy, Mr. Lafely,
    Sales and profits continue to rank.
    Their Gillette Fusion Razor previously had 2 cartridges and now has 1.
    Pampers just reduced the 36 count box to 32 at the same price.
    I could cite more.

    Comment by Michael — March 3, 2014 @ 11:52 am
  9. I only buy powder Tide and I hope they don’t discontinue it. The liquid is wasteful. The only liquid I use is for sweaters and delicates to be washed in cold water (hand wash) is Woolite. Why does laundry detergent have to be so expensive? It’s only soap powder. No wonder it is being shoplifted.

    Comment by Liz Pakula — March 3, 2014 @ 12:38 pm
  10. Double Downsize AND a price raise!?!?!?! HOW RUDE!!!!

    Comment by Richard Ginn — March 3, 2014 @ 12:48 pm
  11. Consumer Reports rates various detergents and shows cost per load. But you’re not saving if you use more than necessary to get the results you want. As J in Va mentioned, using a smaller measure can help save. I put out a 2 oz. scoop and hid the Tide cap when I noticed my son nonchalantly pouring out way too much.

    Comment by Bob R — March 3, 2014 @ 2:13 pm
  12. Corporate PR hacks that have to defend this BS have got zero on my respectometer. I have more respect for some telemarketing slug.

    Comment by rick — March 3, 2014 @ 2:17 pm
  13. This is one of many lessons why I make my own laundry detergent as well as other household cleaners. I just got tired of this sneaky downsizing BS. Thanks for giving us a heads up mouse print.

    Comment by Shawna — March 3, 2014 @ 8:05 pm
  14. The American Way……..We don’t care who we screw…..Money Money Money I want more Money

    Comment by James L Stover — March 3, 2014 @ 8:13 pm
  15. I have used tide all my married life (52 yrs)and have recently noticed laundry stains not being removed. I read a consumer report article on detergents and their recommendation for Wisk detergent and I am very satisfied with the results.

    Comment by Joan Shymanski — March 3, 2014 @ 8:48 pm
  16. Proctor and Gamble is out of control. They downsized their Charmin products by a LOT, their Tide detergents, and tonight at Target I noticed that the big size Pantene bottles that were 25.4oz until very recently, now are 22 oz or less, depending on the variety. I hope the fail miserably, but people are generally stupid and continue buying their products.

    Comment by Norma Stitz — March 3, 2014 @ 11:04 pm
  17. Well Norma Stitz if Amazon.com is RIGHT a simple search of pantene 22.8 showcases dates of January 21 2013. Could that change be that old??

    Comment by Richard Ginn — March 4, 2014 @ 8:46 am
  18. I had to give up on the liquid. It was coating the inside of my washer with a nasty goo that smelled. Switched to a powder and the smell magically went away. Most of that ‘goo’ is apparently petroleum with a bit of perfume that washes away in the water. My sister had the same issue. They did the same size switcheroo on the powder last year. I have watched it go from ‘160’ loads to 120.

    Comment by me — March 4, 2014 @ 10:38 am
  19. Wow, now I’m glad I bought a few bottles of the old size Tide when it was on clearance at Target recently. I noticed the new smaller bottles in another aisle and figured there must have been some downsizing going on. After these bottles are done, bye bye Tide and hello Wisk thanks to Consumer reports and Joan S. above.

    And I agree, a zero on my respectometer for the corporate doublespeak hacks. This has got to be one of the more extreme examples I have ever seen. Thanks, Mouseprint, for the heads up!

    Comment by RenĂ©e — March 6, 2014 @ 8:15 am
  20. I have been making our own det. for a couple of years and we are well satisfied. Wife buys some manufactured OCCASIONALLY. We have NOT used tide in years! THanks for the exposure.

    Comment by Chuck Carter — March 17, 2014 @ 2:30 pm
  21. Clorox did this trick some years ago and nobody noticed, they just grabbed it off the shelf as usual. The first downsize for a gallon bottle (128 oz.) went to 121 oz. Nobody noticed so this seems to be the norm today. I did a survey with the US Navy students I taught Driver Training to and some of them didn’t even know how many ounces were in a gallon so go ahead cooperate America, stuff your pockets while you can because before long, everything in this country will be FREE!

    Comment by Wally Johnson — March 17, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

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