Let’s talk profit motive versus customer satisfaction

Media psychology is about a lot more than just how ads and people interact. It’s also about the whole marketing process and its impact on consumers in terms of the psychological toll that may be taken.

Recently Procter & Gamble decided to discontinue its spray-on laundry pre-wash treatment for stains, Tide Stain Release. I complained to P&G about it, saying that I had seen their once and now-again CEO A.G. Laffley at a Drucker Day event in which he proclaimed, “The customer is now in charge.” He sounded like he meant it. In my complaint I said this was clearly a good product that delivered on its promise. If P&G really cared about customers, it would bring it back. Well, I got their reply. Here it is, verbatim:

– – – – – – –

“Thanks for contacting Tide, Greg.

“I’m sorry that the Tide Stan (sic) Release Spray is no longer available.

“Generally, decisions to start or stop making products are based on consumer demand, so feedback like yours is extremely valuable. Please be assured I’m sharing your disappointment with the rest of our team.

“Since the product you loved is gone, you may want to try Tide Stain Release Pacs.  I think you’ll really like them. You may also want to check our brand websites for information about our current products – you might find a new favorite!

“Your satisfaction means a great deal to us so I am sending a money saving coupon for your next purchase.  It will arrive via postal mail in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

“Thanks again for writing.

“Tide Team

“Need to get back in touch?  Please do not change the subject line, just hit reply.  This makes sure we receive your message.”

– – – – – – –

I sent a reply. Here it is:

“Your reply is NOT helpful at all.

“You know darn well that your now-discontinued product was a good seller. You dumped it because your profit motive moved ahead of your customer-satisfaction motive. Clearly, the problem with Stain Release spray was that because it was used very sparingly on isolated spots, a bottle of it lasted too long. So instead of giving it to us in that form, you decided to give it to us in a form that got used up at several times the rate. If I were Laffley, I would fire the miserable bastard product manager in charge there.

“You guys have a lot of nerve, and I hope like hell it comes to hurt you where it counts—your bottom line!

“Gregory F. (Greg) Zerovnik, EMBA, PhD”

– – – – – – –

I am now trying to start a crusade that will embarrass P&G to the point that it PROVES the customer really is in charge and brings back Tide Stain Release. I hope anyone who reads this post will spread the word on social media and let’s see if we can make an impact.


About mediainmind

Education: BFA in Painting & Sculpture from California College of the Arts (Oakland); Executive MBA in Executive Management from the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University (Claremont); MA and PhD in Media Psychology from the Fielding Graduate University (Santa Barbara). Experience: Over 40 years experience in marketing, advertising, and public relations on the client and agency sides of the business; for-profit and nonprofit, as well as government. Special Expertise: The interface between human behavior and the media. It's all about "media in mind." View all posts by mediainmind

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