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Oct 14, 2022
How Henkel finds the right answers to consumer trends
Since 1907, Henkel has been making everyday life easier for millions of people. The launch of the first self-acting laundry detergent, Persil, revolutionized the way we do laundry today. Gone was the strenuous and tedious rubbing, panning, fulling and bleaching of laundry. For the first time, laundry could be cleaned quickly by boiling it once. With the new detergent, company founder and pioneer Fritz Henkel captured the spirit of the times. The Persil brand became a success. Even today, more than 115 years later, Persil is a household name for quality and innovative products that deliver top performance for laundry while being responsible to the environment. Above all, the brand is close to consumer trends. This is also reflected in the traditional brand's latest product innovation: the Persil Power Bars.
Focusing on what consumers need: Innovations that make life easier
Anyone who successfully manages brands over generations needs to find the right balance of tradition and innovation. Henkel has found it. For well-established brands like Persil in particular, it is important to address new consumer groups and develop innovative sales channels. After all, people's needs are changing rapidly, and so is the market for laundry detergents. At the beginning of the Persil era, detergents primarily had to be harmless, clean laundry properly, and make doing so easier. Today, that is no longer enough. Whether it is liquid, powder detergents, or pre-dosed discs – people's needs are constantly changing, and so are their expectations of the market: "Consumers today have very different requirements than in the past. They expect brands to be sustainable and to evolve sustainably," explains Stefanie Kusters, Brand Manager for Persil.
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Consumers expect brands to be sustainable and to evolve sustainably.
Stefanie Kusters, Brand Manager for Persil
The shopping behavior of consumers has also changed. They are looking for compact convenience products, such as ready-to-eat solutions or "to go" meals, which simplify their lives and make them more comfortable. This also has an impact on stationary retail. Increasingly, the trend turns towards smaller store spaces with a reduced range of goods. Space is limited – the more compact the product, the better. Consumer behavior has also changed in other terms: Until just a few years ago, going to the supermarket was the only way to do your shopping. Today, things are different. More and more people are ordering online and have their clothing, furniture, groceries, and household items delivered to their doorsteps. E-commerce business represents an important sales channel for the future. But detergent packaging is usually large, heavy, and has to be well wrapped for shipping. Not ideal conditions, in other words. "As a result, we thought about what properties a laundry detergent must have to make it suitable for e-commerce," explains Moritz Klämt, Corporate Vice President Global Digital Marketing & eCommerce for Laundry & Home Care at Henkel.
Small, powerful, and innovative – how Persil enables doing laundry more sustainably
Henkel has found a solution in the form of the Persil Power Bars: "The Power Bars are extremely compressed, require almost no plastic and therefore represent a detergent of the future," says Moritz. The detergent comes in the form of a bar weighing around 30 grams, opening a completely new product category that also makes washing itself easier. Thanks to the pre-dosed bar shape, consumers can quickly and conveniently place the bar in the washing machine drum without having to measure out the product. In addition to their design and their compact form, the new Persil Power Bars also score highly in terms of sustainability. The Power Bars are coated with a biodegradable shell that dissolves in water. Thanks to the compressed form, the bars fit into a small cardboard box that is nearly plastic-free. The handy cardboard box is not much larger than a book, making the Power Bars easy to store and transport in larger quantities. Their compact shape not only makes them ideal for e-commerce, but also allows them to be transported more sustainably. And the production of the bars also causes fewer emissions than that of liquid detergents. Of course, the new Persil Power Bars also offer 100 percent Persil washing power, removing even the most stubborn stains at wash temperatures as low as 20 degrees. "The premeasured Power Bars are the ideal Persil product for all consumers who want particularly easy dosing and sustainable washing," explains Stefanie.
"Innovations happen anywhere in the company"
"The idea for the Persil Power Bars came to a colleague while shopping in the supermarket and was inspired by the shape of a box of chocolates," says Malte Turk, Corporate Director eCommerce for Laundry & Home Care. The first prototype for the packaging was quickly developed within his team. The team is responsible for finding out what requirements there are for products in the e-commerce sector. Together with colleagues from other departments – from production to packaging design – the initial idea was turned into a product that could be tested on the market within just three months of development. This shows Henkel's entrepreneurial spirit, says Malte. After all, his team was not only instrumental in the concept and product development but was also responsible for the market research tests – a role that is usually assumed by the marketing department. A true joint project that demonstrates the entrepreneurial drive of the employees. "Innovation happen anywhere in the company," says Malte.
Innovations happen anywhere in the company.
Malte Turk, Corporate Director eCommerce for Laundry & Home Care at Henkel
Successful market launch: from product innovation to go-to-market strategy
The innovative idea of the Persil Power Bars is evident not only in product innovation, but also in go-to-market strategy. "We don't just think about how to develop new innovations, but also how to launch a product," says Stefanie. The Persil Power Bars were at first tested in online retail. The positive feedback quickly showed that the product was very popular with consumers. Consequently, the decision was taken to offer the product offline as well – starting with the markets of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Introducing product innovations such as the Persil Power Bars in gradual phases is not unusual at all. "The Power Bars are a completely new product category. Such products are often introduced step by step and then rolled out," explains Moritz. This first test phase also showed that the Power Bars were well received by consumers: "No matter where the Power Bars were offered, the product was very quickly understood and accepted," says Moritz.
Since July, the Power Bars have also been available in Germany, continuing the success story of the traditional brand. Persil can look back on more than 115 years of innovation, and one thing is certain: the brand will continue to focus on the needs of consumers in the future with its innovative ideas, while continuing to evolve and reinvent itself. What will remain the same, however, is the quality and the claim to offer products that deliver the best washing results and are safe for people and the environment.
Persil innovations throughout the years
Persil, the first self-acting laundry detergent, is launched on the market and revolutionizes doing laundry.
The famous historical Persil advertising image is created: the white lady.
Henkel launches the first synthetic heavy-duty detergent in Germany.
The German slogan "Persil. Da weiß man, was man hat." appears on packaging for the first time.
Persil becomes phosphate-free, taking an important step for the environment.
Liquid laundry detergent makes its debut, expanding the Persil range.
Persil Megaperls pearls are launched, offering an even better washing performance and easy dosing.
Washing becomes even more handy – with Persil Tabs, which are easy and convenient to use.
Persil Mega-Caps offer a liquid detergent in premeasured form – the protection around the detergent dissolves completely during the wash cycle.
Persil Discs combine four product benefits in four chambers, providing cleanliness, brightness, long-lasting freshness, and textile care.
Persil Power Bars are launched in stores in Germany and deliver the familiar Persil quality in a new, easy-to-transport, and easy-to-portion bar form.