Chattering Mind

Have you noticed the new purple-bottled “natural essence” laundry soap called “Simple Pleasures” being advertised in places like “Oprah” magazine? I wrote “Queen of Green” consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, and asked her what she thought of this new line, significant because it’s born of the loins of Procter & Gamble, maker of Downy and Tide.

Dadd says the lavender-vanilla, rose-violet, or waterlily-jasmine fragrances added to the “Simple Pleasures” line are not true aromatherapy essential oils. That’s not surprising, because at nine dollars per fraction of an ounce, real oils would be prohibitively expensive. Dadd goes on to say something fascinating: There’s a “a segment of the mass market now that could be called mainstream naturals, made up of consumers who want to stay with the brand name products they are loyal to, but also want them to be more natural. This product is appropriate for that market.”

She continues: “These types of products are not 100 percent natural, nor marketed to the natural/organic products market, but they have added natural ingredients… a move in the direction of natural for mass market consumers. I would not recommend this product for people with allergies, and I’d like others to keep in mind that these are extra strong fragrances, which would affect people who are fragrance sensitive.”

Most important, Dadd says “Tide is biodegradable, but is a detergent made from nonrenewable petrochemicals.”

P&G’s is admirable in that it publishes consumer reactions to its products, even negative ones, on this message board. Oh, and these are a riot: three different video web journeys, or “Virtual Escapes” (with romantic, relaxing, or refreshing options) inspired by the new awareness aroused, I guess, by tossing your clothes in the suds of “Simple Pleasures.” Plus Downy’s sponsors a “Mood Quiz” here, where you can choose online your “ideal scent experience.”

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