What factors have led to Church & Dwight's long history of slow and stable growth?
Church and Dwight can attribute much of its success to the fact that it has concentrated on the production and sales of sodium bicarbonate. Strong family control has shielded management from the problems of defending the company from hostile takeover attempts. The company has successfully taken a commodity chemical, branded it, and marketed it to the point where it controls a dominant market position. It has subsequently capitalized on consumer recognition and loyalty to the ARM & HAMMER brand by introducing multiple consumer products under this logo. As the dominant producer and marketer of sodium bicarbonate products, Church & Dwight has faced limited competition in its primary markets and successfully entered the markets with other consumer products using a low price strategy with limited advertising expenditures. Recent acquisitions now present the company with new challenges as it faces major competition in the consumer products markets both domestically and internationally.
What are the major strengths and weaknesses of Church & Dwight?
Over 150 years of experience as a sodium bicarbonate producer and marketer.
Almost 25 percent of the outstanding shares of common stock are owned by descendants of the company's cofounders.
Company controls approximately 75 percent of the sodium bicarbonate production in the United States and is also the only producer of ammonium bicarbonate and potassium carbonate.
Company controls 85 percent of the baking soda market.
Extensive consumer brand name recognition and loyalty (in 95 percent of U.S. households) which allows the company to promote multiple products using a single brand name.
Anti-takeover defenses including a board of directors with staggered terms of office and voting rights that are weighted in favor of long-term shareholders.
Controlling the production of raw materials, the manufacturing and processing facilities, and the primary marketing functions allows the company to price its products below those of competitors - thus creating a barrier to entry.
Ability to build value by effectively implementing cost savings strategies when acquiring other company's consumer brands.
Company's lack of financial strength as balance sheet has been strained through a series of acquisitions and international marketing and management expertise are hampering expansion outside of North America.
Primary focus on the Arm & Hammer brand name has left the company with a void in product promotion experience that may be needed in the highly competitive consumer products field or international expansion.
Inability to determine the strategic fit of Specialty Products Division into overall company operations.
Lack of financial strength to launch aggressive marketing campaigns for new products.
Top management turnover.
3. What are the opportunities and threats facing Church & Dwight?
Potential expansion into international markets.
Expanded uses of company's basic raw materials for pollution control and potable water applications as stricter environmental legislation is enacted.
Potential markets as a paint stripping compound and an industrial cleaner based on the low abrasion qualities and environmental safety of sodium bicarbonate.
Diversification of product line to include other related consumer products using both the Arm & Hammer brand as well as other brand names similar to The Dial Corp. acquisitions.
Expand use of sodium bicarbonate-based products to meet demands for environmental safety.
Additional acquisitions of consumer product brands and/or companies.
Expand use of sodium bicarbonate for automotive parts cleaning systems to replace current solvent based systems (joint venture marketing agreement with Safety Kleen).
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