Friday, July 22, 2011

Brand Update : RIP Sparsh (2006-2008)

Sparsh which was expected to give a tough competition to Johnson & Johnson is history. Infact the brand was dead within a year of its launch. The brand was silently put to rest by Marico and there is no mention of the brand in the company website.

Sparsh was a serious foray by Marico in the baby personal care segment. The segment is hugely attractive with a major disadvantage - which is the presence of Johnson & Johnson. And it is really amazing to see that the brand equity of J&J is such a powerful entry barrier that even the best of FMCG marketers cannot break the stronghold of J&J in the segment.
Marico is not an ordinary player. The company had proven its marketing acumen with its successful brand portfolio. But in the case of Sparsh, the company had to beat a retreat. And beating a retreat in the baby segment market is one of the biggest mistake that  a brand can make.By withdrawing, the brand is breaking the trust factor which is very vital in surviving in this segment.
Sparsh could not survive because mothers preferred to be loyal to J&J because of the trust that J&J brand had with the consumers. It is not easy for a new brand to break that bonding. Wipro tried with its Baby Soft but was not successful. Now Sparsh bite the dust fighting the giant. 
So is it not possible to fight a giant like J&J ?. Theoretically it is possible. But it takes long years and millions of cash to be the profitable No.2 in the market . Not many companies were willing to burn that much cash. Although Sparsh is now dead, there are reports of a possible rejuvenation of the brand. It would have been wise if the brand fought really hard and stayed put in the market rather than surrender meekly within a year of launch.

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  1. J & J is known as babies company, but they lost out in the women s segment to P & G. It needs a niche to dislodge them in this segment.

  2. Baby care is almost a monopoly in India and it has been that way for ages. That's why J&J is becoming stronger and stronger.

    Yet I firmly believe it is possible to be a good No. 2 in the market. All you need is a clear differentiator (something worth talking about) and an extremely hard hitting communication.

    J&J is a default choice for most mothers. Hence, a very powerful communication is needed to make them think twice.

    You also need to target new mothers and enter hospitals and gifting segment. On the birth of a baby, the relatives come with so many J&J gift packs that they last till months. Once the brand enters the home like this, you can never dislodge it. So target pregnant mothers, target hospitals and target mothers of just born.

  3. Interesting post ... thanks for sharing. This story demonstrates that you need great marketing skills, persistence and a lot of luck to compete against a strong competitor.


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