Magazine article Marketing

Soap Giants in Lather to Clean Up Europe

Magazine article Marketing

Soap Giants in Lather to Clean Up Europe

Article excerpt

Soap giants in lather to clean up Europe

The penny has dropped on cross-country brands -- a dull, staid market has been lit up in a flash, Just what is going on in the household cleaning market? For some time now it has been a marketing backwater for consumer goods giants. Sales are forecast to stagnate or drop in most European markets and the brands are expensive to promote; the sector has the third highest ratio of money spent on advertising to sales, behind personal care products and breakfast cereals.

But suddenly there has been a rush of brand extensions, innovative product launches, reformulations, repackaging and a general beefing up of marketing spends as companies realise there are prospects for growth in pushing their brands across European boundaries.

Not surprisingly, arch rivals Unilever and Procter and Gamble (P&G) are at the centre of the action. Unilever subsidiary Lever Brothers is challenging P&G's Flash cleaner with a new brand extension, Domestos Multi Surface Cleaner, backed by a 6m [pounds] ad campaign (Marketing, July 26). It is also relaunching Jifliquid.

Meanwhile, it is using Persil -- the second biggest selling brand in the UK after Coca-Cola -- as the umbrella brand for a new bid to break P&G Fairy Liquid's stranglehold on the washing-up liquid sector. Persil liquid is being backed by an 8m [pounds] spend.

But titans P&G and Unilever are not alone in their new interest. Second tier players are doing their best to boost their market share. Jeyes has launched Ibcol Disinfectant Household Wipes, which are used as a second wipe to kill germs after first scrubbing with a regular cleaner.

And against a crowded UK field which includes Johnson Wax, Reckitt and Colman and Colgate-Palmolive, new players are entering.

The UK's largest manufacturing company ICI has set up a new homecare division and is launching its first three products with a 1m [pounds] ad spend.

Stafford-Miller, a subsidiary of US-based Block Drug and the makers of Sensodyne toothpaste, is launching its first cleaning product in the UK, a long-lasting bleach toilet cleaner kept in the cistern, with a 2m [pounds] television ad spend as well as a 2m [pounds] coupon drop.

The new industrial players do not have brand awareness, let alone as much experience in consumer research, retail distribution and advertising as the fast moving consumer goods companies. …

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