Ambassador Torchlight

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AMBASSADOR Torchlights held the second largest share of thge market for dry cell batteries and allied products. They had an elaborate national network for distribution comprising 80,000 retailers and stokists. Apart form this, there was a large fleet of vans which serviced the rural sector. The company wanted to utilise their distribution strength and were toying wihnt the idea of taking over the distribution of some consumer items. The company had traditionally adopted the policy of ‘ follow the leader’ and the leader, United Battery Manufacturers , had marketed their own private brand of blades. This brand known as ‘Best’ had to utilise fully the distribution network which was geared to serve the economically weaker segments of the population.

With a view to explore the possibility of taking up distribution of blades, Mr M A Habib, Sales Manager of Ambassador Torchlights, contacted Mr Vikram Patel, Managing Director of Central Industries, a major manufacturer of blades, Centrel Industries, apart from manufacturing blades for other organizations, had its own line of blades, Some of the brands had been launched recently. Encouraged by the initial response, central had opend Regional Sales Offiees in all the four metro towns and had recruited a large number of sales for each of these Offiees Overneads for each of these offiees were considerable and Mr. Patel was now beginning to question his own dicision to open regional offiees. He felt that the money spent on maintaining these offiees could have been better spent advirtising and sales promotion in the early stage. Aggressive marketing had achieved a very high level of awareness and trial usership for some of Central’s brand such as “Splash” and “Awake” but repeat purchases were very poor. The marketing executives blamed production and quality control for this bur it was conclusively proven by laboratory tests that the quality was dcfinitely better than most of the prevailing brands within each price range. The marketing executives conceded the superior quality of Central’s brands but they felt that control on quality was poor. They had often received complaints from the field that control on quality was poor. They had often received complaints from the filds that as many as two of the blades in a pack of five were ‘faulties’. At the time Mr Habib called on Mr Patel, the marketing department at the Head Office of Central was planning a national promotinal campaign to encourage repeat purchasing for two of its prestige brands. The cost of this promotion was estimated to be about Rs.10 Lakhs.


Before visiting the offices of Central Industries, Mr Habib had done a fair amount of ‘homework’ regarding the balde market. He had asked his marketing research department to cmpile information of the blade market, The marketing research department camp up with the following facts :

1 Keen competition. There are some 30-40 nationally marketed brands. Competition also exists in the form of saloons and barber shops which use the traditional hand rezor called the ‘cut throat’

2 There are basically two types of baldes-stainless steel and carbon steel. The stainless steel blades give more shaves per blade and are usually higher priced than carbon steel baldes.

3. There is substantial competition from foreign brands which are smuggled into the country. Typically,the users of foregins brands,the affluendt,exhibit the greatest amount of brands loyalty.

4. Brands Loyallty amongst blade users is very low. The major brands numbering 8 to 10 are promoted quite heavily. Considerable advertising and sales promotion support is given to these brands.

5. In the distribution system, there is same amount of peculation and forward trading with blades.

6. Dealer push is an important consideration in blade sales. The largest share of the market is held by an international company with a wide range of products in the cosmetics and toiletries line. The...
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