Detergent is a material intended to assist cleaning. The term is sometimes used to differentiate between soap and other surfactants used for cleaning. The term detergent by itself is sometimes used to refer specifically to clothing detergent, as opposed to hand soap or other types of cleaning agents. Bangladesh has a detergent market of about 8.8 billion taka of which Unilever occupies a share of 48% making it the market leader. The major competitor brands in the detergent market for RIN are Keya, Chaka and Jet, Surf Excel. To fight this steep competition the above mentioned companies constantly run consumer promotion in hope to sell more than the respective competitors. Although this strategy worked well at first but with the passage of time, the intense consumer promotions have done little to prevent Unilever from loosing shares to its competitors. In 2004, Wheel (which is now RIN), Unilever’s largest detergent brand ran about nine consumer promotions where as in 2005 it ran no consumer promotions at all. Consumer promotion over all is a very expensive affair. Unilever has the largest brands of detergent and so the cost of providing a consumer promotion offers is also large by the same proportion. Besides the competitor brands are known to involve in some unfair practices. They pay a very low wage rate to their labors so overhead costs are low, they under invoice their imported raw materials so that they can evade import taxes and other duties, so they save a lot of money in the process. They can then utilize this money for consumer promotion and other competitive activities that can earn them a higher share of the market. Therefore it is imperative that consumer promotions and other dependant elements have to be studied, to make sure that if a consumer promotion activity is implemented it is a highly effective one. This way, precious monetary resources have the minimum chances of being wasted. To understand the competition in the detergent market better price perceptions and product quality perceptions about the brands of detergent on promotion are also considered being worth studying. To look at market share issues, the brand loyalty element should also be explored.
1.1 Brief Overview about the Detergent Market
The use of washing powder started rising from late nineties after Unilever Bangladesh entered the market with its 'Wheel' brand washing powder. Local brand Jet was the lone player in the washing power segment prior to Unilever's entry.Wheel Washing Powder (WWP) was launched in August of 1997 by leveraging the equity of the Wheel laundry soap. Wheel laundry soap was considered the best soap and stood for quality and care. The brand was initially launched and replaced the NSD powder brands of Unilever. WWP was launched with two stock keeping units (SKUs), 500g and 1 KG and achieved a volume of 2,280 tons in 5 months. Despite a price increase from beginning of the following year the brand showed a strong growth achieving the total annual volume of 12,700 tons; a third SKU of 40g was added to the brand during the year. 1999 a second price increase was taken for the larger two SKUs but the brand continued to show good growth, ending the year with a volume of 22,800 tons.
A major re-launch was rolled out in beginning of 2000 for the brand, during the re-launch the packaging was significantly improved, the perfume was also improved and the proposition changed from lemon to Powerons. The innovation was a response to the launch of the competition Aromatic Washing powder. Prior to the re-launch, the competition was aggressively blocked with continuous promotion behind the brand. After the re-launch the brand grew and countered the competition in 2000, achieving a volume of 29,500 tons. In order to get an even faster growth in 2001 vs. 2000; the brand was aggressively promoted- which yielded in a growth of 43%; ending the year with a volume of 42,200 tons. With the explosive growth of WWP in 2001, it...