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Dish Soap And The Middle-Class Squeeze

Procter & Gamble — the company behind Crest, Tide Ivory, and a million other ubiquitous brands — grew into a giant by selling stuff to the American middle class.

So it's worth paying attention when P&G says its customers are changing.

And in the past few years the company's core customers have been shifting to cheaper brands — a sign of an increasingly pinched middle-class shopper.

So, today's WSJ reports, P&G is responding:

For the first time in 38 years, for example, the company launched a new dish soap in the U.S. at a bargain price.

P&G's roll out of Gain dish soap says a lot about the health of the American middle class: The world's largest maker of consumer products is now betting that the squeeze on middle America will be long lasting.

"It's required us to think differently about our product portfolio and how to please the high-end and lower-end markets," says Melanie Healey, group president of P&G's North America business. "That's frankly where a lot of the growth is happening."

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