Magazine article Marketing

Can Soaps Simplify Choice?

Magazine article Marketing

Can Soaps Simplify Choice?

Article excerpt

Procter & Gamble and Lever are culling their sub-brands to lessen confusion.

'The Great Soap Simplification', (GSS), is Procter & Gamble's euphemistic admission that the marketing effort and millions of pounds invested in the development of its sub-brands in the past decade have been poured down the drain.

The quest to dazzle shoppers with an endless array of brand variants of Ariel, Bold, Daz and Fairy has, in fact, left the consumer in a spin.

"If you stand in front of the supermarket shelves then you are just baffled by what is there," says Andy Milligan, director of brand identity at Interbrand. "P&G and Lever Bros have been frittering their money away on sub-brands instead of piling it into their key brands."

To overcome this confusion, P&G is wielding an axe across its product range. UK consumers remain unique among Europeans in retaining a loyalty towards the big box powders - so big boxes stay. Instead, the original compact powders - in Ariel's case this means Ariel Ultra and Ariel Color - are to go.

From October, consumers will be left with a simple choice, big box versus super-compact and, to simplify the choice still further, the company is introducing a 2:1 ratio between the two box sizes. A 3kg box of regular will be equal to 1.5kg of concentrated powder and both sizes of comparable powders will now be sold at the same price.

For P&G, this strategy reflects the change in focus of their research. The company has moved from concentrating on how consumers wash their clothes to looking at how consumers do their shopping. "Everyone has a lot of knowledge about consumers as users of products, the gap has been about understanding consumers as shoppers," says Dick Johnson, director of corporate affairs at P&G. "As the technology has developed, the earlier variants have become redundant.

"We see this as all about making our consumers' lives easier. Our customers will no longer need a calculator in the supermarket."

Arch-rival Lever has a similar strategy. It has already cut ten pack sizes from its Persil liquid range and now plans to extend the cull to its concentrates.

The number of packs and variants across its Persil, Radion and Surf ranges is being reduced. It will also drop complicated dosage instructions and simply mark up how many washes each pack will bring.

"With the relaunch of Persil in April, we started to address the simplification process and reduce customer confusion," says John Trafford, business group manager for fabrics at Lever Bros. …

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