Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dettol : 100% protection, Is the brand protected?

Brand :Dettol
Company :Reckitt and Benckiser
Agency: JWT

The brand has been well known for years. Dettol is Rs 300 crore brand of Reckitt and Benckiser formerly Reckitt and Coleman. Dettol is a 70 year old brand . Launched in 1936 as an antiseptic lotion, the brand became a generic name for antiseptic lotion similar to Xerox in Photocopiers.From its launch to 1980's the brand had a dream run with virtually no competitors. Having no competition is a problem, the growth will be stagnant.
During 1980's Dettol found that the sales are remaining stagnant, the reason being that the brand has its presence in most of the households but are seldom used . Hence the repeat purchases are not there.
Dettol had to expand the usage beyond cuts and bruises. Hence Reckitt and Coleman unleashed a campaign aiming to expand the usage of the brand to an all purpose antiseptic that can be used for shaving,rinsing, and as a general disinfectant.
Dettol have always been positioned as a 100% germ fighter with germ fighting and protection as the core value.
Since the antiseptic lotion market was stagnant Reckitt wanted to leverage the brand to other categories . Dettol saw over these years plenty of brand extentions. The first launch was the soap in 1990's. The initial launch was unsuccessful because the brand moved from core value of protection to love and care. Since the brand faltered in its positioning, failure was imminent.
The soap was again relaunched with positioning as " 100 % protection" and now have a reasonable market share of 12% in the premium category.

The next extention was in the form of liquid soap.The liquid soap category is only 12 crore worth but the hand wash category is expected to grow to 100 crore.
The brand also tried to extend to talc, band aid, and shaving gel but failed miserably in those categories.
Even as the brand is extending, Reckitt failed to strengthen the mother brand and faced competition in that category from Savlon.

Now Dettol is trying to make a foothold in the soap market with the launch of Dettol with moisturizer and glycerin variants. It has also launched a body wash recently.

This brand is a classic case for brand extention failures.We can see a brand struggling to find its place in the market. Some time success can be very disturbing. Xerox wanted to extend to computers but failed miserably. Similarly Dettol wants to do some thing with the brand because it was successful . Now after all these failures, still Dettol is trying with variants forgetting the core brand. I am not saying that you should not extend the brand, But don't do it at the expense of the mother brand . When an antiseptic brand tries to extend to a segment which is essentially cosmetic, it cannot compete with the major players on the cosmetic platform , what at best can happen is that the brand can exist as a niche brand extending its core value and creating a niche .

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