RIN DETERGENT: TO POSITION OR REPOSITION
In early January 1989, Irfan Mustafa, General Manager, Personal Products and Market Research, Lever Brothers Pakistan Limited, was wondering what action to take regarding the marketing of the laundry detergent bar RIN, which had been introduced to the Pakistani market in April 1984. The product was specially formulated and promoted as a fabric washer. Mr. Mustafa felt the sales volumes for RIN had reached reasonably satisfactory levels in 1988. However, a recent survey confirmed his suspicion that RIN was primarily being used for dish washing. COMPANY Lever Brothers Pakistan Limited (Levers), a subsidiary of Lever Brothers International, produced and marketed a variety of consumer products in Pakistan. The company’s diverse product line consisted of items such as shampoos, skin and shaving creams, edible oils, margarine, toilet soaps, scourers, and laundry detergents in powder and solid bar forms. In 1988, Levers had a profit before tax of Rs 277 million on sales of Rs 3.65 billion.1 MARKET In 1988, the total fabric wash sales of 263,050 tonnes in Pakistan consisted of 247,000 tonnes of laundry soap, 14,500 tonnes of nonsoap detergent (NSD) powders, and 1550 tonnes of NSD bars.2 The laundry soap, NSD detergent, and NSD bar markets had grown by 5 percent, 12 percent, and 29 percent respectively, as compared to 1987. Laundry soap retailed for Rs 10 to Rs 15 per kilogram (kg), whereas NSD detergent powders had a wider price range, retailing between Rs 20 to Rs 48 per kg. RIN was the only NSD bar in the market, with the standard 125 grams size selling for Rs 3.25 in 1988. Lever had no entry in the laundry soap segment, but its two brands of NSD powders Surf and Sunlight had captured 50 percent of the NSD powder market.
US $1=Rs 20.00 in 1988. 1 tonne = 1000 kg.
Total dishwash sales in the country were 60,000 tonnes in 1988. These sales were divided primarily between hard soaps (88 percent) and bars (12 percent). Liquid dishwash sales amounted to only 160 tonnes. Hard soaps for dishwashing retailed between Rs 20 and Rs 40 per kg, with sales growing at an annual rate of 5 percent. Bars for dishwashing retailed between Rs 25 and Rs 40 per kg, with sales growing at an annual rate of 3 percent. Levers did not have any formal product entry in the dishwashing marketing since late 1987. Levers had introduced Sunlight liquid dishwash in the main cities of Pakistan in early 1985. However, the brand could not establish itself and was discontinued in late 1987, after failing to achieve sales of more than 20 tonnes a year. As of 1989, ZIP dishwashing liquid sold by a competitor had sales of around 100 tonnes a year. ZIP was marketed in a 600 ml bottle at a retail price of Rs 23. RIN RIN was a solid, blue NSD bar that Levers introduced in Pakistan in 1984. Mr. Mustafa described the product as follows: Rin has superior cleaning efficiency; it gives abundant and instant lather in all water condition and prevents redeposition of dirt on clothes because it contains active detergent and phosphates. RIN also exudes a pleasant fragrance during wash, and its fluorescence imparts brightness to clothes. When it was introduced in April 1984, RIN was priced to sell at retail for Rs 2.95 per pack size of 130 grams. An advertising and promotion budget of Rs 5.7 million supported the introduction of the product in the market (see Exhibit 1). Media advertising showed RIN being introduced from the heavens by thunder and lightning bolts. The lightning was intended to emphasize the brightness attribute of RIN. The key phrase used in the commercial was “A little amount of RIN washes a large lot of clothes.” For the first three years, sales of RIN were disappointing, never crossing 700 tonnes per year. In March 1985, the price for the 130 gram packing was raised to Rs 3.15. Several consumer promotion schemes were used for RIN but, according to Mustafa, none of them was successful. A Rs 0.50...
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