Dettol Case

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Dettol: Managing Brand Extensions
This case is prepared by Assistant Professor Anand Kumar Jaiswal of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Arpita Srivastav, doctoral candidate at Management Development Institute Gurgaon, and Dhwani Kothari, MBA Class of 2003, XLRI Jamshedpur. It is prepared from the published sources and the information provided by ACNielsen ORG-MARG Private Limited (“ACNielsen”), as the basis for classroom discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. ACNielsen owns all rights in its information which is copyrighted in ACNielsen’s name. Please address all correspondence to Assistant Professor Anand Kumar Jaiswal, Indian Institute of Management, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad 380015, India. E-mail:

“What next?” pondered Vishal Khannaa, General Manager (Marketing), Reckitt Benckiser India Limited (RBIL), as he sat gazing at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix of Dettol brand extensions (Exhibit 1). It was December 20, 2006 and Mr. Khanna was putting together decisions concerning the brand extensions of Dettol. RBIL had rolled out more than eight extensions of Dettol in the past and many of them had failed to establish their presence in the market. Khanna was entrusted with the task of assessing the performance of various extensions. He was wondering what future course of action the company should take. He first started reflecting on the long journey traversed by Dettol in India.

RECKITT BENCKISER INDIA LIMITED: COMPANY BACKGROUND Reckitt Benckiser India Limited (RBIL) was a wholly owned subsidiary of Reckitt Benckiser plc. The parent company was the world’s number one in household cleaning products. It had its operations in over 60 countries and its products were sold in 180 countries.1 In 2004, it had a turnover of £3,871 million and net profits were £586 million.2 The Indian subsidiary was incorporated in 1951 as Reckitt & Colman India. With the merger of the parent company with Benckiser


are disguised. Case setting is created for the purpose of facilitating classroom discussion.

© 2009 by World Scientific Publishing Co.



NV of the Netherlands in December 1999, it was renamed Reckitt Benckiser India Limited. RBIL contributed 4% to global revenues of Reckitt Benckiser plc.3 The sales for its key products are provided in Exhibit 2. The sales figures for RBIL are given in Exhibit 3. The company had two main divisions: household products and over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical products. Fabric care, surface cleaners, pest control, air fresheners, and lavatory care products constituted the household division, while antiseptic creams, ointments, and analgesics fell under the OTC pharmaceutical products division. RBIL was a leader in most of the categories in which it was present. About 85% of its revenues came from brands which were number one or number two in their respective categories.4 The company had around 20 brands in its portfolio which included Robin Blue, Dettol, Dispirin, Coldarin, Cherry Blossom, Lizol, Harpic, and Mortein. Pest control, toilet soaps, surface care, and fabric care products contributed 74% of total revenues.5 The product portfolio of RBIL is given in Exhibit 4. The shares of various categories in 2001 were as follows: household products, 51.7%; toiletries, 20.7%; laundry products, 11.3%; pharmaceutical products, 13%; and food products and others, 3.4%.6 RBIL followed a niche market strategy, and focused more on niche segments which had concentration of a large number of unorganized players and a few organized players. The strategy had reaped good results, and had made its brands market leader in respective categories. However, of late, the company was facing tough competition from local players in a few product categories such as laundry care and ointments in OTC, leading to a decline in...
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