Tide Leads the California Green Rush

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I am a brand guy and love when great brands offer environmentally friendly solutions that improve the quality and convenience of everyday life.

When Tide launched in 1946 it was a wash-day miracle that changed the way mothers cared for families by introducing the world’s first synthetic heavy-duty laundry detergent.

As a Change Merchant, I look for Burning Platforms or Compelling Events – sets of conditions that necessitate change.  A man was interviewed after his platform caught on fire.  He had the option of staying, or jumping into the cold water.

“I knew change was coming.  I was either going to get really hot, or really cold, but things were not going to stay the same,” shared the cold, wet worker.

No one creates Compelling Events like the government.  Most dry cleaners have used perchloroethylene, or perc for short.  Perc is the thing that gives dry cleaning that distinctive smell.  Special precautions are needed to guard against health hazards, and potential perc site contamination is a third-rail issue for all developers.

This necessity for change provides opportunity, and in steps Tide to offer a franchise solution in the Do It For Me (DIFM) segment and an $8 billion market opportunity.  Once again, Tide will offer new technology – proprietary formulas that offer restoration of white, black and colors with environmentally friendly cleaning solutions – coupled with convenience of drive thru, 24-hour pick up and a whole lot of other marketing elements from arguably the world’s best marketer, Procter & Gamble.

Being a sales guy, I love this story from back in the day, be it fact or fiction:  Tide salesman has a major account that has introduced a private label, and is featuring this competitive product in a remarkably similar package, at a lower price.  To defend his market position, the salesman buys clothes from that retailer, and does a side by side washing test.  At the meeting with the retailer’s executives, he put the retailer’s clothes in two piles. One is noticeably different, with colors faded, etc.  The question to the executives was, “Do you think your customers will think the poor quality is a result of the detergent, or the clothes purchased at your store?” Next day, Tide was again featured.

Good ideas poorly executed are bad ideas, but this is a great one.  Like Newport Beach, Tide jealously guards its brand integrity.  Enter Andrew Cherng, founder of Panda restaurants, which operates 1,300 Panda Express Chinese fast-food outlets.  Cherng indicates he plans to open 150 Tide branded dry cleaners over the next four years.

Cherng is a successful proven operator, has the necessary capital, and demonstrates brand integrity with the success of Panda Express.  Having experience in franchising, I think this also represents a trend in restaurant operators looking outside that industry for growth not readily available within it.

When I reviewed many of Newport Beach’s master plans or strategic plans, I might argue with the concept or approach, but I don’t remember concluding that they were poorly written, lacked specificity or accountability.  The strategic plan for “Fiscal & Economic Stability” has goals, objectives and action plans.  Goal 3 reads, “The City shall facilitate the development, attraction and retention of a variety of business that strengthen the vitality of the local economy, particularly businesses that capitalize on market and demographic changes and opportunities that emerge in key economic centers.”

Tide fits like a glove, doesn’t it?

To recap, we have a world-class brand in Newport Beach, and a world class brand in Tide partnering with a world class operator to capitalize on the California Green Rush.  If I were king for the day, I would summon the Chamber of Commerce, economic development folks from City Hall and major area developers to establish a courting process to attract multiple Tide Dry Cleaning Centers to Newport Beach.  If you are one of these kings, call (626)799.9898 and ask for Mr. Cherng, and let him know that Newport Beach will roll out the green carpet for this opportunity.

“I wasn’t around when McDonald’s was taking franchisees,” Cherng said in a telephone interview. “I’m not going to miss this one.”

Please email [email protected] with great Green Story ideas


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