OCTOBER 11, 2011
JOHN A. QUELCH
Expanding the Oral Care Group in India
Brinda Patel, director of oral-care marketing for the India division of Cottle-Taylor (Cottle), reexamined the toothbrush marketing plan she’d just presented to her manager, Michael Lang. It was October 2009, and for the last two months Patel had developed data-driven 2010 marketing plans for each of the oral care markets. Based on input from sales and marketing colleagues, Patel was confident that her toothbrush plan would support a 20% increase in toothbrush unit sales—up 2% from the 2009 plan’s growth projection—fueled primarily by rising demand for modern oral-care products in India.
However, Lang found Patel’s 2010 sales forecast conservative. It was Lang’s responsibility as VP of Marketing for Greater Asia and Africa to approve marketing plans for each of the 14 regions he managed. Cottle’s senior management, faced with declining U.S. revenues, had looked to emerging markets to offset domestic losses, and Lang was under pressure to deliver results. He needed a higher unit sales and revenue contribution from India to boost his region’s bottom line.
“Brinda,” he said, “you and I read the same study that confirmed roughly half of all Indians are still not concerned with preventing or curing dental problems. I want you to see this as an opportunity to engage 500 million customers. Our strategy hinges on securing early market share in emerging markets, and the competition in India is likely to heat up quickly. We have to achieve faster growth in 2010 than you are projecting.”
With a 2009 population of more than one billion, India represented an enormous revenue opportunity for Cottle. Lang believed that by increasing toothbrush-related advertising and promotional spending beyond 12% of sales—the 2009 level—Cottle could accelerate market development in India, as it had in Thailand in 2007. Lang strongly believed a toothbrush unit growth rate of 25%–30% in India was achievable in 2010.
Patel questioned Lang’s assumption that India would duplicate Thailand’s numbers. Given the breadth of his assignment, Lang spent little time in India. Did he understand that, despite its recent
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ HBS Professor John A. Quelch and writer Alisa Zalosh prepared this case solely as a basis for class discussion and not as an endorsement, a source of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management. This case, though based on real events, is fictionalized, and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental. There are occasional references to actual companies in the narration. Copyright © 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business Publishing. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.
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4350 | Cottle-Taylor: Expanding the Oral Care Group in India
economic growth, more than three-quarters of Indians lived on less than two dollars a day? Patel felt her plan, which assumed no negative effects on volume despite upcoming price increases, was aggressive but achievable. She worried, too, about increasing adspend during the recession, when Cottle was cost-conscious. Would she have to reduce...