Laundry detergents that work at low temperatures? Pah. Unilever reckons it has gone one better with a revamped Persil Small & Mighty that promises short washing cycles as well as a 30C wash.

The concentrated format has been reformulated and five new ingredients introduced to achieve "excellent" results at 30C 30-minute wash cycles, it revealed this week.

Available from April, the new version, which comes with a dosing device to cut wastage and ensure consistent performance, will be backed by a £10m marketing campaign. A TV ad will run from May until October pushing the benefits of short laundry cycles.

Persil brand manager Dani Ross said reducing wash times and temperatures would slash the environmental impact of laundry detergents.

The new Small & Mighty range could be groundbreaking, said Clare Simpson, senior consultant at branding agency Dragon Rouge. "It looks like Persil may be onto something big," she said. "Brands are coming to appreciate that their main environmental impact is no longer just in their product, but also in their consumers' use of ­resources at home."

Even if they owned a washing machine that didn't have a quick-wash feature, most consumers knew how to fast-forward a program, she added.

According to The Grocer's Britain's Biggest Brands supplement, sales of Persil the UK's largest laundry brand by value fell 2.2% year-on-year to £212.6m [Nielsen 52w/e 25 December 2010]. Sales of nearest rival Ariel which claims to offer "brilliant cleaning from 15 degrees rose 9.1% to £178.1m.

Simpson added that her agency had heard that less than 30% of washing machines had cycles to wash at lower than 30 degrees, but estimated that more than 90% of machines had a quick-wash cycle or a way to shorten one.
News of the Persil reformulation came as Asda began exclusively selling three new Russell Hobbs washing machines that ­offer a 12-minute cycle.

Read more
Britain's 100 Biggest Brands 2011: Persil to Young's (12 March 2011)
Focus On Household (5 February 2011)