Tide is not just the liquid detergent you use to wash your clothes. It’s actually been a neighborhood laundromat for years.
In 2010, Tide opened its first four dry cleaning stores. Tide now has 125 stores run by franchise owners in cities like Houston and Phoenix. It has wash-and-fold services on 20 college campuses and more than 700 drop-off lockers at stores like Hy-Vee around the country.
On Tuesday, Tide announced it would pull together these services together under a new name, Tide Cleaners. The brand plans to double the number of places around the country where customers can drop-off and pick-up their laundry to 2,000 by the end of next year.
Tide will grow by opening up more laundry and dry cleaning stores, adding drop-off lockers to new apartment complexes and supermarkets, and expanding at schools.
Tide, one of consumer products conglomerate Procter & Gamble’s top-performing brands, is making a bigger push in laundry and dry cleaning services to strengthen its grip on young consumers in big cities.
“It is a form of marketing,” said Ali Dibaj, an analyst at AllianceBernstein. “It extends the brand to Millennials, who are big outsourcers of basic tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning, and now laundry.”
Tide has tried to draw customers in other unconventional ways, including an online subscription service, Tide Wash Club, and an Amazon Dash Button that allows customers to order detergent on demand.
The brand hopes its latest strategy will help it reach new customers and grow its business with customers who already use Tide. It plans to solicit building managers, franchisees, and retailers to open up a store or add a drop-off locker in their neighborhood.
Tide is trying to capitalize on demographic trends. A rising number of Americans are moving into urban areas and renting their homes and apartments. Many may not have washers or dryers in their units. Tide says 26 million American households currently use shared washer-dryers or send their laundry to the cleaners.
“For many people, the closest laundry room is 20 floors down or 10 blocks down the street,” said Sundar Raman, vice president of P&G’s North American fabric care business.
P&G does not break out sales of Tide. But the brand, which was created more than 70 years ago, is part of P&G’s fabric and home care division — the company’s largest unit. P&G also owns Ariel and Downy.
P&G has invested heavily in innovating Tide. Tide Pods upended the laundry business when they launched in 2012. P&G heralded Pods as the best thing to happen to laundry since liquid detergent.
Pods have helped P&G maintain its top spot in the $49 billion global laundry detergent market, according to Euromonitor. P&G controls 26% of the market, followed by Unilever and Henkel.
-Nathaniel Meyersohn reporting for CNN Business
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