Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Rexona : Won't Let You Down.

Brand : Rexona
Company: HLL
Agency: JWT

Rexona soap was launched in India in 1947. It is one of the well known brand in the 4500 crore soap market. Although the brand does not have any significant market share, it has a loyal customer base. Rexona soap was positioned as natural skin care soap for a silky glowing skin. With its excellent quality and good communication, initially the brand was well received by Indian consumer. In 1989, the brand came out with Coconut based ingredient which was one of its kinds at that period.

But over the period this product lost its way and was competing with HLL’s own brand Hamam. In 2003 HLL as a part of the “ Power Brand “ strategy decided to merge this brand with Lux. Thus came the variant “ Rexona with Lux cream”. In 2005 HLL again decided to make Rexona independent. All these measures ensured that a good product like Rexona be battered to pulp in the Indian market. Rexona is an indigenous brand created by HLL to market in India.

Rexona deodorant is a different story altogether. Rexona was originally created in Australia in 1900. Rexona is the largest deo brand in the world and the brand is estimated to be worth around Rs2000 crore and is available in 90 countries. Rexona is the brand that created the deodorant market in India. This brand is a classic case that proves the marketing ability of HLL. Deodorant market was virtually non existent in India till 1995. Some international brands were available but the market was virtually non existent. Indian consumers were not bothered by their own odor. Infact we believed that body odor was the other person’s problem. So HLL had the task of build awareness of the need of the consumers to smell good. For that Rexona ads educated the customers the main source of odor is armpits which generate 90% of odor and only 1% sweat. When the other brands like Baccarose talked in terms of aspirational features, Rexona talked about the rational benefits of the product. It was positioned along the baseline “ har pal sath nibhaye” . Rexona was introduced initially in the form of Roll On and Stick and later to aerosols. The sticks were priced smartly to induce the customers to try the products.The effective campaigns and smart pricing created a category of Deo in India. The deo market zoomed from 0 to 70 crore in less than 3 year’s time.

Rexona faced competition basically from grey market international brands like brut. Rexona was perceived by Indian consumers as an Indian brand because of its presence in the soap category. Ironically, the Rexona soap is available only in India. Because of the low pricing and its local association, Rexona could not be positioned as a premium deo.

There are three type of deos
1. Body spray
2. Alcohol based germ fighters
3. Antiperspirant
Rexona falls into the third category.

Rexona deo introduced lot of variants in order to block competition from entering the category it has created. HLL also introduced AXE and Denim to further consolidate the position.
Rexona Deo is now positioned as a unisex brand with the baseline “ Won’t let you down”. It is highlighting the brand as world’s largest selling deo and the rational benefit of 24 hr protection.

While Rexona deo is enjoying its leadership in the deo, the soap is wandering around in the market like an orphan. Since the soap brand is now disassociated with Lux, I hope that it will get some oxygen.
I personally feel that Rexona should be positioned as a natural soap and variants like cucumber etc will create a niche for it.