Opinion Editorials

The reason P&G says millennials killed fabric softener is offensively ignorant

advertising bloopers millennials

(EDITORIAL) Proctor and Gamble believes that millennials don’t use fabric softener because we didn’t grow up doing household chores. Give me a break.

It’s not our fault!

Confession time. I’m a millennial, and apart from needing spell check every time I use that word, I don’t use fabric softener. And, Proctor and Gamble, I’m sick of being blamed for the downfall of your antiquated products.


Where did the need go?

Fabric softener was introduced in the sixties, and, as a recent Downy ad touts, it helps protect your clothes from the 90 mile an hour spin cycle, super-heated water, and the dryer “hot enough to cook ribs.”

Almost sixty years later, our washers and dryers have changed, our preferences have changed, and our world view has completely changed. Fabric softener coats our clothes with chemical oils, can irritate our skin, causes flame retardant clothing to be less flame retardant, pollutes the environment, and, on top of all that, it can stain your clothes.

Going green, getting smart

In a world where we’re growing increasingly greener, our choices more eco-friendly, our shopping habits more thoughtful, and our concern about chemicals more acute, I feel obligated to spell out the obvious:

Make a better product or lose my business.

Proctor and Gamble believes that millennials don’t use fabric softener because we didn’t grow up doing household chores. Aside from the insulting trope that we’re all entitled and lazy, it isn’t entirely far off that we continue the traditions of our parents.

If your family didn’t use fabric softener while you were growing up, you probably don’t use it now. But that can’t account for the 26 percent decline in sales over the past eight years.

Blaming the millennial

Proctor and Gamble wants to blame the consumer for a failing product. They said that millennials don’t know about fabric softener or think it’s for a specific load. They want to educate us about their product, but they don’t want to educate themselves.

They want to keep forcing the same chemical compounds down our throats and hope that we’ll grow to like it.

The industry is failing for a reason.

And it’s not because the new generation of consumers is lazy, or poor, or doesn’t know about fabric softener.

It’s because we have better washers and dryers that don’t put our clothes through so much heat and turmoil. It’s because we are eco-conscious, and adamantly opposed to big businesses pouring irritating chemicals onto our clothes. It’s because the world is changing and we, the millennials, want something different.

Rethink, adapt, and grow

If businesses can’t listen to a new generation of consumers, their sixty year old industry should die. What about making an organic line of softener? A chemical free, non-irritating blend? A fabric softener that doesn’t pollute our waterways, contaminate our air, or rub thousands of untested chemicals on our skin.

We don’t need education, we need you to listen. We are voting with our dollars and we are saying loud and clear that we don’t want your fabric softener. It’s not me, it’s you, P&G. You need to work on you.

So listen up or lose that 1.3 billion dollar industry. Listen up or die alone.


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  1. Pingback: The real reason millennials spend less on retail, more on experiences - The American Genius

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