Is Ironing Clothes Obsolete?

When was the last time you used an iron to de-wrinkle clothes? If you are like most consumers, it’s probably been quite a while. While most homes in the U.S. still have an iron, many have not been used for much besides just gathering dust in the laundry room. Why is this?

Well, today’s clothes are more likely to be no-iron clothing than past clothes that required ironing in order to eliminate wrinkles. And today, even when there are wrinkles, Millennials have new solutions – such as popping wrinkled clothes in the dryer for a few minute. Steamers are also popular, as is the dryer setting for removing wrinkles. Other options include dry-cleaning, spraying clothes with wrinkle-release liquids, plus wrinkles can even be considered fashionable for cotton and linen clothing. And finally, ironing is often seen as a ‘chore’ to be avoided at all costs.

All these factors have resulted in sales of irons declining 7% from levels in 2016. In the same time period however, steamer sales have increased 19% as the steamers have gotten smaller and added new functions. Iron makers are moving into manufacturing portable garment steamers, and the spray starch industry is also reinventing its products and marketing.

Are irons a tool of the past?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What household products did their grandparents and parents use, but students do not use?
  2. Ask students when they last ironed clothes? When? Why? Other options?
  3. Discuss the different stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage? In what stage are clothes irons?
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various household products and services into each stage.
  5. Show Web sites for companies that make irons:

Reliable: https://reliablecorporation.com/

Rowenta: https://www.rowentausa.com/

  1. Divide students into teams: Have teams brainstorm how to reposition or revise irons so that it can be repositioned into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Konclus, J. (14 May 2019). No, millennials didn’t ‘kill’ ironing. Washington Post.

 

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