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When I was studying abroad and living in college dorms, Tide Pods were my saviour. Its compact and 3-in-1 nature meant that I didn’t have to lug bottles of detergent and softener when doing my laundry in the basement.

For those who have never heard of it, Tide Pods are a brand of 3-in-1 laundry capsules that you can easily toss into laundry machines alongside your clothes.

While Tide Pods don’t seem to be readily available in Malaysian supermarkets, other brands of such capsules have made their way onto our shelves, whether that be physical ones or online.

One local brand that’s pursuing this idea is The Laundry Pods.

Spinning into entrepreneurship

It was started by Johorean Kim Loom Low who used to travel to Singapore for his engineering job.

The idea for The Laundry Pods came to him last year when the borders reopened and he was able to return to JB.

Having studied in Melbourne and lived in Singapore, he had grown familiar with laundry pods and sheets. Yet, when he moved back to Malaysia, he found out that there weren’t many choices for such products.

Image Credit: The Laundry Pods

Moreover, the products available lacked a sustainable edge, something that laundry capsule brands overseas have already been pursuing.

Seeing a gap in the market, Kim jumped on the opportunity to work on it on top of his full-time job as an engineer.

Although he shared that it can be very time-consuming and tiring, he believes in the idea enough to continue pursuing it.

Developing the perfect pod

Going into this, Kim wanted to do two things—provide a new way of doing laundry while delivering it in a sustainable way.

Addressing the first point, he looked at a few categories of detergent products—tablets, laundry sheets, and pods.

“I chose the one I’m more familiar with, which are pods,” he said.

Whilst researching the market, Kim looked at competitors such as Clean Conscience and Method, which are Singaporean brands. He also looked at big brands like Tide Pods.  

Eventually, he determined the three-chamber pods work the best in most conditions, not just in terms of pricing but also from a marketing perspective.

One chamber would include detergent and fragrance. Another would contain the softener. Finally, the last chamber would contain the stain remover and the surfactant, which is where the bio-enzyme comes in.

“Natural bio-enzymes are the special ingredient found in premium detergents like Dropps. It costs a lot more,” Kim explained.

A load of advantages

Compared to traditional detergents, Kim argues that pods come with a few advantages. First is the convenience, of course.

“Imagine if you are a college student and must go down the laundromat downstairs to wash your clothes, but you have to carry huge bottles, and not one, but two—detergent and softener,” he said. Yeah, I’d be doing laundry once in a blue moon then.

Image Credit: The Laundry Pods

Convenience aside, there’s also the fact that the capsules contain pre-measured amounts of detergent and softener used. This means users aren’t over- or under-pouring the amount of detergent, which would affect clothing in the long term.

Kim was also particular about the selection of the scents. His brand offers unique scents such as Pink Sakura (peach), Blue Ocean (woody), Green Botanica (herbal), and Golden Petals (floral).

The Laundry Pods is supposed to be eight times more powerful compared to normal detergent, something that Kim claims has been tested by a third-party lab.

He shared that using one capsule of The Laundry Pods, which contains about 5ml of detergent, can have the same cleaning power as 40ml of normal liquid detergent.

Other than these pods, he also plans to roll out other solutions such as subscription plans.

All in on sustainability

Another thing that The Laundry Pods wanted to address is sustainability. This doesn’t just mean the core product should be biodegradable, but also that the packaging should be environmentally friendly.

Kim’s criteria were that the products must be in bulk containers with no plastic packaging during transportation. Secondly, these 3-in-1 pods must be bio-degradable.

Those who are familiar with laundry pods will know it typically comes in plastic containers because of the fragile nature of the pods. Manufacturers typically opt for this so they won’t have to bear the responsibility of the pods bursting during shipping.

Thus, finding a manufacturer was the most difficult part for Kim. Packaging aside, he shared that manufacturers in Malaysia currently do not have the capacity to produce triple-chamber pods.

Image Credit: The Laundry Pods

Plus, most ingredient suppliers are focusing on synthetic chemicals rather than the bio-enzymes he’s looking for.

“So, I have no choice but to go to the global manufacture hub, China,” Kim said.

He eventually found a trustworthy manufacturer that produces OEM products for numerous global brands, including sustainable ones. It was more expensive, but it was a price he was willing to pay.

For packaging, he settled on non-plastic laminated art card boxes which are rigid and recyclable, and for the brand’s starter packs, reusable canvas bags are used.

“We are currently working on other packaging options with reusable purposes like glass or cloth bags, so stay tuned,” he added.

Kim has also ensured that the brand uses courier bags made from oxo-biodegradable materials which can break down safely and naturally after usage.

Is Malaysia ready for this?

While writing this, I recalled a local brand of laundry pods I encountered in the past called Podla. Searching it up again, it seems to be inactive, at least on social media.

This begs the question, are Malaysians ready to switch from the kinds of detergents they’re familiar with, be it liquid or powder, to opt for the pod option?

Looking at the United States, Tide Pods were originally launched in the 70s. But, it was only in the 2010s that its sales picked up again.

Image Credit: The Laundry Pods

This history is something Kim is familiar with, too.

“Part of the reason is their marketing strategy,” he deduced. “Just like air fryers nowadays, which is starting to become one of the must-have items in the kitchen.”

Since The Laundry Pods is targeting Millennial and Gen Z consumers, who are typically more open to new, innovative ideas, he thinks it shouldn’t be an issue.

“Most of my customers belong to this group of people,” Kim said. “In some years, they will become mums and dads in a family and can pass on the valuable message of laundry pods to the next generation and expand the market coverage and awareness.”

Yet, laundry pods are not cheap. When compared to conventional detergents, these pods are more expensive by the load.

Kim agreed, acknowledging that pods are certainly more expensive than other forms of detergent. However, everything comes with a price tag.

“If the pods can out-perform or bring more benefit to the consumer compared to other forms of products, I believe that consumers will see the value in it,” he said.

  • Learn more about The Laundry Pods here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: The Laundry Pods / Vulcan Post

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)