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Unilever Unveils World-First Innovation In Laundry with Persil Powergems

Last month, Unilever launched the first breakthrough innovation in the laundry category for a decade – a brand new kind of premium detergent that is neither powder nor liquid.

Great science, manufacturing excellence and deep shopper understanding

Persil Powergems inside a washing machine

Gemma Cleland, Executive Director for Unilever’s Home Care category, says: “When it comes to laundry, everyone wants to get the job done with great results but with minimum fuss. That’s why our shoppers tell us they are looking for laundry products that make washing simpler and easier.”

With this insight, our R&D centres in Mumbai, Vlaardingen and Port Sunlight, sought to create a laundry product from scratch that uses 100% active ingredients and is twice as concentrated as powder. The new formulation, produced in Lord Lever’s first-ever soap factory in Warrington, removes stains effectively with less mess than a powder, but with the care and intense freshness of a liquid. This new technology allows fragrance molecules to cling to fabric throughout the wash.

What’s more, the unique bottle design – co-created with consumers – helps communicate the revolutionary format and makes Powergems easier to use.

In testing with consumers, 92% said Powergems exceeded their expectations and 74% rated the product as new and different compared to other laundry detergents available.

The potential environmental benefits are huge

This premium product is a potential game-changer for our laundry business, which is geared towards creating more value. “We believe Powergems will encourage further innovation in the category and help grow value for our retail customers and our business,” says Gemma.

In year one alone, if all powder users in the UK moved to Powergems, it could save 20,000 tonnes of chemicals. The highly concentrated formulation means packaging is up to 30% lighter and uses fewer petrochemical or forestry resources than are traditionally used for plastic bottles or cartons.

The bottle design allows us to get 40% more product on a pallet, which means we could reduce the number of trucks on the road by 800 per year, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 75 tonnes plus a million miles less travelled. The formulation is also an industry first, in that it removes the requirement for mined materials, therefore reducing non-renewable ingredients.

A product to watch

The innovation is creating lots of excitement in the Home Care business, with major retailers viewing Powergems as a way to revolutionise their laundry portfolio. Talking to European Supermarket Magazine, Ian Bell from market research provider Euromonitor International, said the laundry detergent market has been in need of innovation:

“In Europe, the migration to liquids and low-temperature washing has introduced consumers to poor wash performance in some circumstances and elongated wash times when they are looking for speed. If this innovation can help reintroduce ‘balance’ while at the same time cutting chemical usage, then it is indeed a product to watch.”

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