Case study 91 soapsud

Soap-sud is a washing powder brand name for a product marketed throughout the UK. It is produced by one of the two leading multinational soap powder companies. Soap-sud has been around in slightly different forms for many years and has stood the test of time. Periodically, new ingredients have been added to the powder to produce new benefits for the customer, versions have been introduced that have made it more suitable for automatic washing machines and various packaging designs have been used to keep the image of the product in vogue.

The first non-soap detergents were introduced in 1950 with Tide. This was followed by Surf in 1951 and Daz in 1953. They all promised greater cleanliness and whiteness. But at that time Persil had been proclaiming the importance of whiteness for ten years with its famous slogan 'Persil washes whiter'. In 1956 Persil offered perfume for the first time and other changes followed. A scum-disposal agent was added that gave better performance in hard water, a solid suspension agent to prevent dirt being redeposited and more fluorescers to brighten the wash. Persil was the first brand to be advertised on TV in 1956. In the 1960s the growth of washing-machine sales began to accelerate and in 1964 Persil was reformulated to perform even better with machines. At the end of the decade Ariel exploded onto the market and captured brand leadership but within a year Persil had regained the position. There have been many changes in the market since 1970 but perhaps none so radical as those of the 1950s and 1960s.

Maintaining market share is an important objective for the brand manager in charge of Soap-sud and in a highly competitive industry this is a difficult thing to do. There is also a problem: the company that owns the brand also has two other soap powder brands competing alongside Soap-sud in the marketplace. Bill Carruthers, the brand manager of Soap-sud, is now contemplating a number of changes to the product to give it additional leverage in the market. The changes are as follows:

• The introduction of a special new 'green whitener' ingredient. Tests show that this makes the product even more effective in washing clothes 'whiter than white' and is also environmentally friendly.

• A new television advertising campaign telling users of washing powders of the changes to Soap-sud.

• A brand new package design to promote the idea that the new Soap-sud really is a new product in every way.

Bill is looking for ways of testing out his ideas before making a definite commitment to them.

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