IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Consumer products double down on brands

Some consumer products companies are increasingly teaming up brands, combining two familiar names into one new product, such as Tide detergent with Downy fabric softener.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Some consumer products companies are increasingly teaming up brands, combining two familiar names into one new product, such as Tide detergent with Downy fabric softener or Lever soap with Vaseline lotion.

Procter & Gamble Co. this month started Puffs facial tissues with the scent of Vicks, hitting the cold-and-flu season with something meant to play on consumers' childhood memories of moms treating their colds by rubbing on Vicks ointment.

"It's really a product we're uniquely positioned to offer," said Matt Griffith, a P&G assistant brand manager for Puffs. The combination of Vicks and Puffs adds Vicks' "iconic scent" to the competitive facial tissue category, he said.

P&G, the world's largest consumer products company, has been broadening its lineup over the last couple of years with such brand blends as Olay skin care added to CoverGirl makeup and Secret deodorant products, Febreze scent freshener and Downy to Tide laundry detergents, and Scope mouthwash into Crest toothpaste. Other companies also have been doubling up brands to make new products.

"It's kind of one-plus-one equals three," said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York-based customer research marketing firm. "They're taking two brands to make something that differentiates, that supercharges, the brand."

Companies across a variety of industries have combined promotions and brands for years, from apparel retailer Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. with Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer, to Major League Baseball with MasterCard Inc. credit cards. And in a recent product blend, specialty coffee retailer Starbucks Corp. and chocolate maker Hershey Co. have joined forces to develop new confections.

Passikoff said brand combos sometimes are based on a "Field of Dreams" theory — "if you combine them, they (consumers) will come." He said brand synergies, or attributes that complement each other, are needed to attract consumers to such new products.

Unilever found its Lever 2000 soap was helped by last year adding Vaseline ingredients, immediately cueing consumers to think of moisturizing and healthy skin, said Srini Sripada, Unilever director of brand marketing for skin.

"We do a lot of consumer tracking; we're happy with the results," Sripada said. "The partnership of these two great brands is something we will look to explore."

Unilever this year added Snuggle air freshener to All laundry detergent. Dial Corp. last year blended Renuzit air freshener into Purex detergent after consumer testing scores for the detergent jumped when the Renuzit name was added, said Kiem Ho, senior brand manager for Purex.

Intracompany combinations can provide time and cost efficiencies to product development, as formulators work with familiar ingredients and marketers promote jointly.

Suzanne Watson, Tide brand manager, said the six-decade-old brand didn't have to look far to come up with new versions that met consumer interests in added benefits for their laundry work.

"Tide cleaning plus softness translated easiest to the consumer by leveraging the Downy brand," she said. "The same thing with Febreze; when we did our consumer testing for the freshness benefit, the one that sparked the most response was Febreze."

Griffith said Puffs and Vicks will do cross-promotions, including in displays with bottles of Vicks Nyquil cold medicine and with coupons. Both Puffs and longtime industry leader Kleenex of the Kimberly-Clark Corp. have in recent years added lotions and other ingredients meant to soothe cold sufferers; Puffs reached out to Vicks when testing showed its scent triggered feelings of empathy and nostalgia for childhood comforting.

"We found a way to take a classic, the comforting scent of Vicks," Griffith said. "I think that's one of the things that we're most excited about, being able to tap into the equity of the Vicks brand."