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HLL's strategy for its toothpaste brands

09-June-2004
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HLL's strategy for its toothpaste brands

HLL is streamlining its Close-Up portfolio yet again. With the recent re-launch of Close-Up, it intends sticking to one mother brand and a single variant under the Lemon Mint flavour. In the past the company had floated Close-Up as two variants - Tingly Red and Eucalyptus Waves. It has been steadily withdrawing its variants and now its blue coloured Eucalyptus waves variant will be off the shelves leading to the re-launch of its Tingly red flavour as the mother brand with a three in one benefit.

Mr Sanjiv Kakkar, Vice-President, Oral Care, told Business Line, "We have decided to clean out the Close-Up variants and continue only with the Lemon Mint variant. Our experience with Close-Up's variants has been flavour-based. These variants have not been sustainable with disproportionate shares compared to the huge media inputs required to support them. Our experience shows that most of the variants tend to reach a less than 2 per cent share and then they begin to dip."

Last year, Close-Up had discarded its Whitening variant. It had also changed its ad agency from JWT to Ogilvy & Mather to change the fortunes of the languishing brand. While Mr Kakkar claims the advertising has helped in getting some growth for the brand, there are no plans to introduce more variants immediately. Adds Mr Kakkar, "In future even if we decide to launch new variants, they will have a strong consumer reason to exist."

With a new vitamin fluoride system incorporated in the mother brand, Close-Up has also unleashed a new campaign for the brand, harping on strong, whiter teeth and fresh breath.

Meanwhile HLL will continue with its Pepsodent variants. The `family health' brand, Pepsodent will continue to experiment with more variants. Explains Mr Kakkar, "On most family health brands across the world, having variants does work unlike in a sensorial brand such as Close-Up."

More than creating variants HLL's strategy for its toothpaste brands is to introduce lower price points and SKUs to get volumes. For instance, it has recently introduced Close-Up at Rs 10 for 40 gm SKU to drive volumes in a flow wrap packaging.

HLL has also been contemplating getting into the herbal and kid's segment with its brands but is hesitant to do so considering the small size of these segments.

HLL's market share in toothpastes stands at 32.8 per cent with Close-Up at 15.6 per cent and Pepsodent at 17.2 per cent value share as per AC Nielsen ORG-Marg.

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