ENGINEERING NEWS

Procter & Gamble Takes Tide Cleaners Nationwide

Based on design challenge, direct-to-consumer app-based service Tide Cleaners rolls out to 2,000 locations

Tide Spin is an app-based laundry service that outsources the chore to Tide dry-cleaning facilities.Tide Spin is an app-based laundry service that outsources the chore to Tide dry-cleaning facilities.

In 2015, Procter & Gamble challenged Northwestern's MS in Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program to reimagine how we might do laundry. The consumer products company has a history of successful collaborations with the EDI program, which leverages the human-centered design process to drive innovation.

The challenge from Procter & Gamble was explored during a studio-based course co-taught by Liz Gerber, associate professor of mechanical engineering, with EDI's Studio Director, Amy O’Keefe

During the class, student teams used the human-centered design process to explore two methods: a peer-to-peer model and a professional business model. The teams observed people doing their laundry, interviewed potential users, studied the interpersonal dynamics of people doing others’ laundry, prototyped environments, and tested logistics.

The teams developed key insights into why the peer-to-peer method did not resonate with potential users. People providing their home washing machines wanted to be compensated for their time and resources and users expressed unease with a neighbor doing their laundry. 

Ultimately, EDI students recommended the professional business model to Procter & Gamble. 

The outcome was Tide Spin, an app-based service that outsources the chore to professional cleaners at Tide dry-cleaning facilities.

Earlier this week, Procter & Gamble announced it will roll out a version of the service, now called Tide Cleaners, to 2,000 locations by next year.

"The projects P&G brings to the EDI program give our students the unique opportunity to engage in upstream design and innovation within the context of a multi-national consumer goods corporation," said O'Keefe. "In this particular case, the timeline from early prototypes in 2015 through this week's nationwide launch illustrates the significant investment required to go from idea to implementation. We're thrilled to see P&G's laundry service go nationwide and grateful for all that EDI students continue to learn from our P&G partners."

Read about the nationwide expansion of Tide Cleaners via Ad Age.

Read about the Tide Spin collaboration between EDI and Procter & Gamble.

Read about the Tide Spin class project via Ideas via Ideas the Intersection.