Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tri-Activ : Anti-Bacterial Protection

Brand : Tri-Activ
Company : Piramal Healthcare

Brand Analysis Count : # 499

Tri-Activ is an anti-bacterial soap from Piramal Healthcare. Piramal Healthcare has been increasingly active in the OTC and personal care space. Tri-Activ was launched in early 2011 and will be competing against the like of Dettol and Lifebuoy. 
Tri-Activ is positioned as an anti-bacterial soap with germ killing property. The brand is claiming to be India's Grade 1 anti-bacterial soap. The brand belongs to medicinal soap category of the Rs 8000 crore toilet soap market.
The medicinal soap/ hand-wash category got lot of attention in the Indian market recently after the outbreak of H1N1 epidemic. Marketers cashed in on the opportunity by scaring the hell out of consumers and presenting their products as the ultimate protectors of humanity against such epidemics. The medicinal personal care products which was a niche category before these outbreaks suddenly began to be a part of the mainstream category. 
It is in this context that the launch of Tri-Active become significant. The brand is a pure medicinal type soap with strong clinical positioning focusing on germs, protection, doctors etc. The brand is currently available only in medical shops further reinforcing its medical positioning. This restricted availability will reduce the scope of sales of such a product .
The brand will be initially looking at consumers who are too worried about getting sick. Over these years , such kind of consumer segment is increasing in size. Despite the economic growth , Indian cities are prone to such outbreaks. Take the case of my state Kerala which boasts about high human development index and 100% literacy, the state is now reeling under frequent outbreaks of epidemics like Dengue fever, H1N1, hepatitis etc. The fear evoking coverage across media about these diseases force the consumers to scramble for whatever protection that they can avail of. Products like Tri-Activ will benefit from this hysteria.

Indian soap market has always accepted these germ killing soaps wholeheartedly. India's largest selling soap Lifebuoy is ruling with its health positioning so is the mega brand Dettol. Tri-Activ will be vying for a respectable position among these big players.
Having said that, the challenges for Tri-Activ are many. First challenge is the distribution. Piramal Group is well known in the pharma market but its distribution expertise in FMCG market is very limited. This may be the reason for Tri-Activ 's initial retail strategy being done through medical stores. To reach the vast Indian market is not that easy and Tri-Activ may have to leverage its strength in pharma segment to fmcg segment and that is not easy. 
Second challenge is the value proposition. Tri-Activ being a specialist is expensive and it will take lot of effort to convince the consumers to accept premiumness of this soap. Consistent brand promotion is key to such convincing and going by the current promotional strategy, Tri-Activ has gone silent after the initial launch campaign.
Tri-Activ with in a few months of launch, introduced a brand extension - liquid hand sanitizer. That was surprising move since the parent brand was not even well established to support an extension. 
The success of Tri-Activ will largely depend on the brand's ability to garner the retailer support and the investment it makes in brand promotion. Infrequent campaigns will not help for such a product if it wants to fight brands like Dettol and Lifebuoy. 
Alternatively Tri-Activ can thrive as a niche brand which is positioned as a specialist. Such brands thrive on positive word of mouth and attracts that segment of consumers who either is affected by problems or are too concerned about health issues. In a highly competitive market like India, such niche strategy often makes more sense than going mainstream.