Innovation Spotlight: How The Clorox Company Uses AI to Meet Consumer Demand

The consumer packaged goods industry makes products that vary across food, beverage, personal care and household products, but its common thread is an unrelenting commitment to the consumer. They are driven to always be innovating to not just deliver for consumers but excite them and, ultimately, make their lives a little easier, too.

Enter The Clorox Company’s latest innovation: the digital core, inspired by its “consumer-obsessed” approach that leverages AI to track trends online to discern what people are discussing and what new products they might want. This is how the toilet bomb came to be, as the inaugural product to be launched using the digital core (officially named the Clorox Foaming Toilet Bomb Toilet Bowl Cleaner).

What may seem like a story about a single product is an example of how consumer packaged goods companies are working relentlessly to meet consumers where they are and with what they are looking for to get through their day.

The digital core gives Clorox the edge to “be more consumer-obsessed, faster and leaner” and enabled the creation of the toilet bomb using insights directly from consumers to inform its research and development, starting with the fact that — perhaps unsurprisingly — the toilet has the standalone distinction as “the grossest place in the house to clean.” And yet, consumers still aren’t willing to let this task fall to the wayside. Cleaning the toilet is the necessary evil of chores (it can’t wait, like that pile of laundry that’s made a home on the desk chair for a few days).

That said, Clorox also recognizes no one is exactly thrilled to get after their chores, dubbing the intersection of chores and boredom, appropriately, “choredom.” Their research shows consumers are “looking for a spark of fun and joy.” So how does a toilet bomb achieve this? Through its commitment to the consumer, Clorox designed a cleaning product that offers a little joy in between scrubbing porcelain.

And the digital core is its own innovation spurred by Clorox’s consumer-obsessed ethos. The platform allows the company to develop evergreen products because it’s monitoring ongoing and evolving trends. Helpfully, it also utilizes technology that can seek feedback from 100,000 consumers in a few hours, versus assembling just a handful of people for a focus group or an effort that may require more time, effort and in-person participation.

In the case of toilet bombs, the digital core picked up on social trends like bath bombs as well as “hacks” being shared online like cleaning toilets with a baking soda and vinegar combination. This was paired with the growing consumer sentiment online against “choredom,” and in putting all of this together, they created a product that not just cleans well but creates a little extra fun for the consumer.

Moreover, the digital core helps all steps in the engagement process speed up — from the development to testing prototype ads online — allowing Clorox to get the product more quickly to retailers.

It’s the seemingly little things — like a toilet bomb — that ladder up into a broader, innovative efforts by the CPG industry to make the products consumers choose and the brands they trust.