25. May 2018 / Permalink / Short URL
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How Henkel Extends its Detergents Business to the Laundry Business

Henkel keeps on investing in start-ups offering laundry services. After investing in ZipJet it recently invested in the Dutch start-up dobbi. This case shows how a product-centered business, such as the detergents business, can be thematically extended to and end-to-end service leveraging on the power of existing brands.

For this investment Henkel, a global player in consumer products, in the US known for brands such as purex or soft scrub, teamed up with its strategic partner PostNL. Dobbi, which is named after Harry Potter`s houseelf, promises to pick-up and return perfectly cleaned clothes within 48 hours. The service includes dry cleaning, washing, folding and ironing.

Already in 2012 Henkel launched a project called “Persil Service”. Persil (“Dixan” in many parts of the world) Service aims at providing laundry services to companies. The company has to sign up for the program and Persil Service provides the logistics around it. When the company has signed on a Persil Service point is setup. At the service desk employees of the firm can turn in and pick up their laundry. Every employee who participates in the program receives a Persil Service card and a personalized laundry bag. All he or she has to do now to get the washing done is to put the dirty laundry into the laundry bag, turn it in at the service point, and then pick it up when the washing is done. So the idea of investing into laundry services and partnering with logistics companies (for Persil Service Henkel teamed up with German logistics provider DHL) is not new to Henkel. However, with the latest investments the idea is extended to the private context. Both extensions rely on the very strong Persil brand.

This example shows how the benefits of a product with a strong brand can be thematically extended. While logistics providers and dry cleaners are not taxonomically close to the product of detergents and are not in the taxonomically framed “detergents business”, they are thematically closely related in the theme of “doing laundry”. This especially applies to individuals or customers who might lack time (or willingness) to do their laundry themselves or taking it to traditional dry cleaners. Using the Persil brand, representing clean laundry just as good high quality detergents, will help to establish trust of customers in the quality of the service.

Julia K. de Groote
Julia K. de Groote
conducts research on thematic thinking at the University of Bern (Bern, Switzerland) and is author of "Using Thematic Thinking to Achieve Business Success, Growth, and Innovation".

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