Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Making life simpler, easier, and just plain better, one Bounce at a time

I’ve only seen it a couple of times – and I couldn’t find it on YouTube for a replay – but my current favorite TV ad is the one in which a “real person” extols the virtues of the Bounce Dryer Bar.

Haven’t heard of the Bounce Dryer Bar? Well, neither had I until I saw this ad. Now, thankfully, I know what it is.  It’s something you stick on the side of your clothes dryer in lieu of using dryer sheets to eliminate static – and ensure that your clothing smells “outdoor fresh,” “fresh linen,” “spring fresh,” or “fresh lavender.” If you just want your clothing to smell like, well, clothing, you use “free.”  Which is what I use. Who wants the repeated shocks that fabric that hasn’t been softened up produce in the dead of winter? So I do admit/confess to using dryer sheets. I just don’t want the artificial, chemical additive version of life that marketers have convinced us means “fresh.”

But the Bounce Dryer Bar?

Who knew that it was so onerous to have to toss in  a dryer sheet with every load?

Well, the Bounce scientists at P&G apparently did.

So they invented the Dryer Bar.

Which, to hear the woman in the Bounce ad testify, just makes doing laundry a whole heck of a lot easier, simpler, more convenient, less time consuming, less nerve-wracking.  Your benefit goes here.

Naturally, this got me thinking about just how much of an enervating drag the dryer sheet process is that someone would belly up to the Bar so effusively.

So the other day, when I did a couple of loads of laundry, I estimated just how much time it took, and just how inconvenient it was, to throw in a dryer sheet.

I don’t have a stop watch, and my watch doesn’t have a second hand, but using the “one-mississippi” method, I estimate that it took one second to get the box off of the shelf, one second to take out two sheets, and then a combined one second per load to get them in and out of the dryer.

Total time for using dryer sheets for two loads of wash done back to back: four seconds.

Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I do this twice a week, over the course of a year, it all ads up: 4 x 2 x 52 = 416 seconds per year, of nearly 7 minutes.

What I couldn’t do with that seven minutes, I tell you.

Make a cup of tea. Read a couple of “Talk of the Town” pieces in the The New Yorker. Start going through my sock drawer.

And I’m just doing wash for two clean adults. For a family of four, I bet someone could tote up a good twenty or thirty minutes in time savings.

I know, I know. It’s like the one about nine women pregnant for one month each thinking they could make a baby: you don’t get the entire seven, twenty, or thirty minutes in one block. And four seconds per laundry episode is hard to take advantage of for something productive.

You could always, however, do something non-productive, like stare off into space.

I do want to make a fair comparison here, because the Bounce Dryer Bar – which lasts 2-4 months, depending on number of loads and dryer heat – does have some start up costs.

Although I bet it takes bit longer, I’ll give it two seconds to take the Bounce Dryer Bar package off the shelf and open it up. Here’s where the first snag hits: it takes 15 seconds worth of firm pressing to attach the bar’s holder to the side of the dryer. You don’t have to replace the holder every time the bar starts reading “REPLACE”, but still, it does contribute to the total cost of ownership. As does the possibility – all over the web – that the bar crumbles and you have to pick it out of your laundry, then rub the stains it causes out with a bar of soap.

If you’re lucky, however, that won’t happen, and you’ll get your return on time investment pretty darned quickly.

With the take off the shelf, press against dryer, and insert bar in holder, I’m guessing start up costs of about 20 seconds.

So, a few loads into it – based on my estimate of eight seconds per week – you’re at break-even in two and a half weeks.

Assuming the bar lasts three months, and adding a couple of seconds on to the total for sticking your head in the dryer a couple of times to see if it says REPLACE yet, over the course of that three months you’ve saved quite a tidy sum worth of seconds.

With my traditional dryer sheet approach, I’ve used up 104 seconds of precious time, while the canny Bounce Dryer Bar user has only expended 24 seconds.


These things must be flying off the shelves!

I don’t know what the cost differential is in terms of dollars, but on time savings alone, I’ve done enough ROI exercises in my time (justifying spending big bucks on software with no clear benefits) to know a winner when I see one.

Add to that the softer benefit, which the woman in the ad brings up, of not having to worry about running out of dryer sheets.

I’d forgotten about that one!

Man, the amount of time  and energy I’ve devoted to fretting about whether that box on the shelf only has one sheet left in it or – worse yet – is actually empty…I can tell you, many the toss-and-turn night I’ve awoken in a 2 a.m. sweat, wondering whether there’s a dryer sheet for the load I want to do first thing in the morning. So, I have to get up and out of my nice, warm, comfy bed and pad on over to the hall closet where I keep the laundry stuff,to inventory my dryer sheets. No sheets? I’m not going to say no problem. What I am going to say is I’m now facing a big decision.

Do I run out in the middle of the night – does the 24/7 CVS down the street even carry dryer sheets – or do I wait until morning?

Or can I just let it go, throw caution to the winds, risk electrocution, and end up sprinkling perfectly dry clothing with water to get rid of the static in my sheets?

Thank you, P&G, for the Bounce Dryer Bar, which I only have to worry about every few months, rather than every living, breathing, laundry day.  I still haven’t decided whether I’ll try one out – I do worry about things like concentrated chemicals in a hot environment. (I also worry about those plug in air fresheners…) Still, I welcome the Bounce Dryer Bar to the market.

Some might say that this is but an infinitesimally small and marginal improvement, and I’ll concede that they may have a point.

Certainly, it’s not the advance that the wringer-washer was over the zinc tub and scrub board. Or that the automated washer was over the wringer-washer. (I know whereof I speak. I remember when we upgraded from a wringer-washer – you had to run the wash through a hand-cranked roller to wring the water out – to one with a spin cycle.)

And the dryer was certainly an improvement over hanging clothing out of doors. I remember that upgrade, too. It was one that actually had an impact on my life. I was too young to have operated the roller-washer, but I spent many hours hanging laundry out, and taking it down.

So I know up close and personal that the dryer was an improvement over hanging things out – other than in one respect (other than the big kahuna of energy savings). Clothing hung outside smells better.

It actually smells like “outdoor fresh,” “spring fresh”, and “fresh linen.” Without the chemical additives that go into the Bounce products (bar or sheet).

Smell-test aside, if the Bounce Dryer Bar is a big improvement, a major life simplifier, might it be argued that our lives are just too darned cushy to begin with?


What is our obsession with things smelling Madison Avenue defined “fresh”?

In addition to the Bounce Dryer Bar, Bounce is giving us new and advanced dryer sheets that come in two scents, Paradise Thrill and Renewing Rain.  Let’s have the P&G marketers tell us a bit of what these products can do for us:

Want to experience a little bit of paradise? Now you can with Bounce® Awakenings Paradise Thrill! Paradise Thrill is infused with Renew-Refresh scent beads that renew the freshness of your clothes as you move, so you can enjoy the unique blend of fresh citrus, floral, and green scents throughout your day! Awaken ordinary moments™ with the intense and long-lasting freshness of Bounce® Awakenings™ Paradise Thrill™!


Awaken ordinary moments™ with the modern, fresh, watery scents of Bounce® Awakenings Renewing Rain! Take a moment to enjoy the fresh exhilaration of this light, yet long-lasting, scent that renews the freshness of your clothes with Renew-Refresh scent beads as you move throughout your day!

Can it we healthy for our bodies or the environment to have chemmy little scent beads time-releasing on us?  One more reason not to rue the day I chose B2B tech over consumer marketing.


Anonymous said...

Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer.
Clothes can wrap around the wringer and be torn.

Trixie said...

This whole scented thing is one of my pet peeves. It's becoming harder and harder to find things that don't smell like "sport", "fresh", "spring", "rain", etc. etc. Deodorant is one of the biggies. The whole point is not to smell like anything (sweat included). Between body lotion, shampoo, hair spray, and anything else that goes on in the morning, the conflicting smells are overwhelming. If I want to smell llke anything, it's my favorite perfume, thanks very much. ok, rant for the day complete. (I guess I'm just a crank but it runs in the family!)

valerie said...

For convenience around the old washing machine, I've got to mention Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets; detergent, softener, and anti-static that goes from wash to dryer. The convenience starts at the store with no need to lug those big plastic containers. Who knew we'd be trading household tips?