SWIFFER INNOVATION LEADS TO FIRST GROCERY CHANNEL VACUUM

CHALLENGE: "Out-Swiffer the Swiffer" by combining a cordless vacuum with the innovative Swiffer electrostatic dry pads into one handheld device

SERVICES: Insights, Design, Engineering, Prototyping, Sourcing, Manufacturing

AWARDS / PRESS: Good Housekeeping's Best 2-in-1 Vacuum Cleaner; The Chronicle of Higher Education; Cleveland.com 

SUCCESS: Top-selling cordless vacuum of all time; Generated more than $500M in sales; First vacuum cleaner to sell through the grocery channel

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Dirt Devil wanted to “out-Swiffer the Swiffer,” Procter & Gamble’s popular floor cleaner. Nottingham Spirk, Dirt Devil’s open innovation partner since the 1980s, proposed another option: licensing the well-known Swiffer name and combining it with a Dirt Devil cordless vacuum. By combining the two core competencies of different floor care brands, Nottingham Spirk gave consumers a powerful and affordable cleaning tool.

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The Swiffer innovation was so successful that P&G later acquired the product design and relaunched it as the Swiffer Sweep + Vac. The continuous revenue stream of the consumable Swiffer replacement cloths that follows the initial purchase of the Swiffer Sweep + Vac allowed P&G to extensively advertise the product. The design has been widely distributed in supermarkets, unprecedented for an electric floor care appliance.

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WATCH THE SWIFFER SWEEP + VAC IN ACTION

COMBINING TWO FLOOR CLEANERS INTO ONE

It seems obvious in retrospect, but what better way to clean your floor than combining a dust cloth for fine particles and a vacuum for crumbs into a single tool? The result of that thinking is the Swiffer Sweep + Vac, a handheld cordless vacuum that works simultaneously alongside the consumable cleaning pads that put Swiffer on the map. 

Hugely successful as the first vacuum cleaner to sell through the grocery channel, the Swiffer Sweep + Vac concept was acquired by P&G and helped propel the Swiffer brand to a $1B+ valuation. 

A NEW TAKE ON THE "RAZOR-AND-BLADES" BUSINESS MODEL

The original Swiffer came out in 1999 and was a runaway hit in grocery stores. The item itself was priced low, copying the well-known razor-blade business model. The replacement dust pads were meant to be the real revenue-generator for P&G. The Swiffer was one of P&G's fastest-selling new products ever, topping $300 million in retail sales the first year.

Following that same model, Nottingham Spirk and Dirt Devil knew there was a market for a combo sweeper + vacuum product. The key was getting it right, pricing it right and seeing whether the grocery channel was the right place to get vacuums in the hands of consumers. It worked, and the Swiffer Sweep + Vac is the top-selling cordless vacuum of all time. 

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