Thursday, 14 February 2013

Selling the sweet smell of success- Unilever being Sure, Balming Sore and re-making Dove

The new smaller Compressed Sure products
 along side the conventional product.
The present Boots store in London’s Kensington high street stands on part of the historic site of the former store Pontings – “the house for value”.
As in 1893 when the  Messrs Ponting Bros.  bought the site customers look for value for money. As with  ITV's "Mr Selfridge", Pontings had a "bargain basement".

So today 's customers still look for value and one of the ways they determine value is to compare prices of products by reading the labels and calculating what is good value.

This can be quite challenging when comparing different sized  or shaped products. So the introduction of labels which priced products – particularly commodity products by comparative volume or weight e.g. £ per 100 g or £ per 100ml.

I noticed a strange anomaly in the price marking in the deodorant display at Boots , Kensington High Street which may well be repeated elsewhere. My  challenge  was this:-

Q.  Which is the best value a 75 ml canister of branded deodorant (Dove) at £ 2.89 or a 150 ml canister of the same branded deodorant at £2.89.

A. They are both the same value

As someone who has always found mental arithmetic difficult I appreciate retailers labelling that prints under the unit price a separate price  of £ x per 100 g or 100 ml. An approach handy for diet and calorie counting as well.

However that method becomes confusing when price per volume e.g. ( 100 ml) is not comparing like with like.

The 75 ml Dove product comes out at £3.85 per 100ml whilst the 150 ml product comes out as £ 1.93.
Both products were marked the same – Original 48 hour + Vitamin E and the same fragrance etc.

Such is the current issue with trusted brand leaders Unilever with Vaseline, Sure and Dove deodorants.

The apparent anomaly is due the fact that smaller 75 ml product is a new product – a compressed product whose performance is twice as good for the same volume with the added benefits of requiring less packaging and therefore more socially responsible and is a handier size for a hand bag or case.

There is of course the necessity that we trust the manufacturer that the product will last twice as long but Unilever work very hard to maintain the trust of brands like Dove, Sure and Vaseline.

As Jess Hodgson , brand manager at Unilever pointed out in an article in February 12th London Metro size matters to today’s ethical consumer.

"Greater investment in research and development has allowed many businesses to meet the demand for greener packaging without compromising on the quality of their products."

To meet such consumer demand Unilever have concentrated their Sure, Dove and Vaseline products into much smaller cans. This is a huge change for an industry where can sizes have remained more or less unchanged since the 1960s (when Pontings was still trading !).

“This is a marriage between design and innovation to meet the demands of the ethical consumer” states Jess Hodgson.

It is also an intelligent strategic response by Unilever to grow their market in a stagnant economy and  in a static sector which is viewed  by many as a commodity product.

Those familiar with  the Ansoff Grid will see this has been an example of the top right hand box of product development

It makes for a useful worked example of strategic growth through product development by Unilever


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