Monday, August 03, 2009

Imperial Leather : Everyday Luxury

Brand : Imperial Leather
Company : Cussons

Brand Analysis Count : 412

Imperial Leather is a brand which failed to make its mark in the Indian market. This heritage brand had all the good product qualities but because of its marketing practices ,Imperial Leather failed to realize its potential in the Indian market.

Imperial Leather is a British brand with a rich heritage. The brand has a history dating back to 1768. Imperial Leather was created in 1938 by Alexander Tom Cussons. (read the Wiki entry here). Now Imperial Leather is owned by the company PZ Cussons.

Imperial Leather came to India in 1996 with a JV with Ahmed Oil Mills ( Postman oil makers). The brand was positioned as a premium luxury bathing soap. In 1999, Cussons entered into a contract with Godrej to distribute the brand across the country. In 2001, the brand severed ties with Godrej and started operating on its own.

Imperial Leather during its launch time was one of the few luxury bathing soaps in the Indian market. The brand, because of its classic packaging and excellent product qualities gained popularity among the higher income households. Even middle class consumers like my household indulged in the brand once in a while.

The brand was characterized by its packaging and its product qualities. The soap especially the white soap was really good interms of its lather and fragrance. The classic characteristic of the brand was the metallised logo embedded on the soap. That logo gave the soap a premium luxury look.

The brand was hopping to cash in on the distribution reach of Godrej but the deal did not work out well. The brand failed miserably in the promotion front also. Except for the initial promotional efforts during the launch, Imperial Leather was virtually silent across the media. Another reason was the high price. Since the brand was virtually silent, it lost the connect with the consumers and couldn't justify the high price.

Imperial Leather was positioned as a Luxury Soap with rich creamy lather. The brand had the tagline " Everyday Luxury" .

I cannot remember a single ad of this brand anywhere in recent times. In the plethora of soap brands, how can a brand survive without any promotion ?

The brand is still available in supermarkets but I am not sure whether Cussons has any solid plans of Imperial Leather in India. Globally, the brand still has a lot of equity and even has extended itself into baby products. It is sad that such a brand could not survive in the Indian soap market.

Imperial Leather did not become highly successful because of laidback promotional strategies. The company never invested heavily in promotions and this cost the brand dearly. Imperial Leather is slowly fading away from the consumer's mind. The newer generation consumers has heard about this brand but never used this brand . If this situation persists, Imperial Leather may not be able to survive in the Indian market.

The way forward for Imperial Leather is to go back to its core brand promise of " Everyday Luxury ". The brand needs heavy loads of promotions to make a place for itself in the highly competitive soap market.