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Amit Banerji & Tarun Jain (for more details, visit http://ssrn.com/abstract=1195282) Keywords: Branded products; Competition Map; Competitive advantage; Competitive Marketing Strategy; Healthcare products; Hoarders; Indirect competition; Indigenous medicines; Market segment; Marketing Commission; Marketing strategy; Super Distributor; Unbranded segment; Vaporub; Vicks. Abstract: Vicks Vaporub has been the market leader in Vaporub industry in India for long. It has ensured that competition does not creep up by considerably reducing its cost of marketing and distribution. However there is still a considerable share of the market that needs to be tapped by Vicks Vaporub. This study analyses the scope and viability for Vicks Vaporub to acquire this untapped segment. Due emphasis has also been laid to study those factors which exist in this segment and the strategy needed to be devised to deal with the potential competition which they pose. The study is based upon a survey of the distribution channel of Proctor and Gamble through which Vicks Vaporub is marketed. The selection of dealers has been at random and a sample of 30 dealers has been surveyed in both Jodhpur and Agra, covering Western and Northern India respectively.
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1195282
An analysis of the Marketing Strategy of Vicks Vaporub.
AMIT BANERJI & TARUN JAIN Introduction With the numbers of market players going high and the margins of profit falling down rapidly, the future in the industry is not ambiguous but clear. Compete or exit. Its not just one company or an industry which is facing this unbearable pressure to perform but perform better than others. Market is no more governed by sentiments. Its your competence and ability to perform better than expected that allows you to survive. Even for that matter, the great marketing guru Kotler would be forced to give a second thought to his earlier stand1 and think of something for the fate of those firms who afford to ignore their competitors or those who cannot match them. The essence of the argument is that the traditionally drawn distinction between the different market players in the likes of market leader; market challengers; market followers etc. has come to be of no meaning today in real terms. Anyone and everyone who offers to the market a product similar to yours or who trades on similar advantages as yours is your competitor no matter his size, product differentiation, the market segment he caters or the place he occupies in the market for directly or indirectly, sooner or later, he is bound to and in fact does cut down your market share, takes away your advantage to trade on equity and
“Poor firms ignore their competitors; average firms copy their competitors; winning firms lead their th competitors.” Philip C. Kotler, Marketing Management, (Prentice Hall India, New Delhi, 11 edition), p. 241. 2
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1195282
as to how a market leader reacts to the competition and how he frames the strategy to deal with the same. The aim and essence is simple.also takes policy decision to expand his market share by snatching away your share. The aim is to study the product and its marketing strategy followed presently and to test it on lines of the existing and upcoming competition and to redesign or design a new strategy altogether. This study is undertaken on similar lines with the objective to design a competitive marketing strategy for a product particular namely ‘Vicks Vaporub’. and thus achieve our objectives by the undertaken exercise. analyse. keep track and also retaliate when required against all sorts of competitive decisions taken by the other players. Another reason for making this exercise is to also to take into account. as the case may. The strategy so designed shall be termed a competitive strategy and shall not only seek to protect your interests but also allow you to take long term decisions without being unduly perturbed by the competitors particularly when you hold a substantial share in the segment and command a good host of resources or opportunities in the existing segments. Thus it is not only advisable but mandatory to design a competitive policy so as not only to protect but also perceive. through deductive reasoning though. The reason for taking this practice into account is to analyse whether the presence of competition plays any 3 . Be firm on your stand and don’t be deviated by the actions of the other players unless too exceptions to note.
Entire Vaporub Segment (Share in entire market in percentage) Name Vicks Vaporub Unbranded & Indigenous Other branded competitors Market Share (%) 85% 12% 3% 4 . It can be represented statistically as in the chart below. Vicks Vaporub covers almost the entire market segment in the case of branded competitors.role in the determination of the policies framed by the market leaders and if it does. Analysis the Vaporub market in India. A brand of Proctor & Gamble (P&G). This exercise shall aid us to understand the level of importance given by the market leaders to their competitors and how they acknowledge their presence. than to what extent and how. The data upon which it is based is derived after a market analysis of 30 dealers in Agra and Jodhpur (thus primarily northwestern and the western part of India) picked at random and in different parts of the cities. The Vaporub segment in the market is strategically dominated by Vicks Vaporub in India. With these objectives the present study is undertaken and following the methodology so described shall be employed towards their attainment.
5% (rounded off) among the branded competitors in the Vaporub segment.75% 0.5% 5 . Vicks Vaporub has a market share of 96.5% 1.Vicks Vaporub Unbranded & Indigenous operators Other Branded Competitors Also it has to be seen that among the branded competitors. Branded segment in Vaporub Market (Share in entire market in percentage) Name Vicks Vaporub Dabur Dubruv Painrub (a product of Borolin) Market Share (%) 96. Vicks leads the market and dominates its competitors.
6 2 .25% 1% Thus we find that if at all Vicks has any competitors in the Vaporub segment.Ethorum (a product of Ethnoil) Zandu Balm2 . To progress with this understanding. upon a market survey. Here. we have cough syrups for dealing with cough. Therefore. it is the unbranded competitors who pose the any area to work upon for Vicks to expand its market share. it is found that that majority share of this is taken up by indigenous medicines emanating from Ayurvedic and Though Zandu Balm is not meant technically understood as a part of the Vaporub Segment yet because of similar characteristics it does compete with Vaporub products in areas and thus it has to be provided for as a competitor in the Vaporub segment. therefore. we have capsules and tablets for cold and headache and among these also. there are thousands of branded and unbranded producers and manufacturers who flood the data with such variety of products that it is hard for one particular product to create its brand image. It is also to note that the present data available to us is only with regards to the Vaporub Industry in isolation to the other products available which also cater to similar needs of the customers. are in the unbranded segment for it is this share in the market that is more lucrative to capture. For example. the need to understand this market composition of the unbranded sector gains weight and we have to consider it. we confine our understanding to those products only which are direct competitors to Vicks Vaporub and that too.
local practitioners and road side physicians carry a wide variety of such products which the uneducated man often falls prey too on account of effective presentation and quick affect of these applications. Also. it is important to note that they not only To mention these two does not mean taking into account the Siddha medicines and other traditional methods which are equally employed (and not specifically to India alone but all throughout the South Asian. the fact remains that a considerable market share eludes Vicks on account of these indigenous and unbranded ‘rubs’. headache. However they have a common characteristic at one point and that is that they serve the same purpose.Allopathic3. especially in the rural and semi-urban segment is that they are cheap but effective. Coming back to our previously raised issue of those products (indirect competitors) which serve the same needs as served by Vicks Vaporub but are not a part of the Vaporub segment. cough. African and Latin American countries) as an effective substitutes for these branded medicines. The reason for their wide prevalence and acceptance in the market. the prevalence of quacks. Chinese. 7 3 . A significant portion of market stake is not taken over by them because of the reason that the urban and experience population knows that it is better to spend on health safe then be a spendthrift and face risk by applying those so called effective and cheap remedies. muscle-stiffness and breathing difficulty namely the six symptoms of cold as Vicks advertises. giving relief against blocked nose. It is futile to name these brands and medicines as they are known by distant names in various parts of the country and also have varied compositions. Nevertheless. which also offer balms and creams which are similar to Vicks in size and application and also serve the same purpose. body ache.
satisfying the same set of needs. inhalers etc. they also pose a considerable threat to Vicks in terms of the needs it serves and the product they offer. What is meant here is that the nature and production of the product may be different i. Thus cough syrups.acquire a considerable share in the everyday medicine market.e. The reason for concern for Vaporub industry is simple to understand. cough drops. cold tablets and capsules. The position. But they are to be classified as competitors in their generic sense and also posing indirect competition to the Vaporub segment. are different from vaporub in their strict sense of their application as a rub that can be applied directly upon the infested area of the skin. nasal oils. to borrow the concept from 8 . they may be in a form different from a rub (which is presently our area of concentration) but they are bent upon the same market for their products also serve similar needs (in fact they are meant to serve much more needs then as just a vaporub serves). Marketing a product which serves only on set of needs and that too when all of these needs are on account of one factor alone (Cough) is impractical and also unsustainable as regards to marketing a product which not only serves the needs your product offers but is also useful and in fact meant for other needs which are incident and related to that similar factor (as Cough is often accompanied by cold and then followed by common fever) but which your product does not take into account.
(Prentice Hall India. 9 th . p. as a product.) The components of Indirect Competition arise on account of the seven needs served by Vicks Vaporub. 3. Nevertheless the important features to be noted from this diagrammatic representation are. can be understood diagrammatically and thus we can also simplify our understanding as to the real competition faced by Vicks Vaporub. In his book.) The magnitude of indirect competition is much larger as compared to the direct competition faced by Vicks Vaporub. 11 edition). Through this he analyses the products that serve the same generic needs as served by its products and other ancillary products as well that indirectly affect the market share and operations of Eastman Kodak and are thus indirect competitors to it. operates in the market towards the fulfillment of the needs of the consumers which emanate from one basic need of dealing with common cough which is a recurring phenomenon and does not have any permanent cure. 1.) The real competition for Vicks Vaporub is on account of the traditional and indigenous products rather than branded items available in the areas. The under printed diagram shows the entire gamut of competitive forces in which Vicks Vaporub.) Vicks Vaporub acquires a much larger share as compared to the other direct competitors in the vaporub segment. Marketing Management. 4. New Delhi.Kotler4. 247. 4 Philip C. Kotler. Kotler examines the competition faced by Eastman Kodak (in the American market) through the ‘Competition Map’ analysis. the product for our study. 2.
The distinct niche it has created in the market is because of the fact that the company realizes its position as a market leader and Proctor and Gamble stated its operations in India in 1985 while it began functioning in the United States in 1837. Vicks Vaporub has established itself as a market leader in Vaporub segment and gives tough competition to certain products in other segments also.Competition Map for Vicks Vaporub SALIENT FEATURES OF EXISTING MARKETING STRATEGY OF VICKS VAPORUB A profitable venture of Proctor & Gamble5. 10 5 .
led by an increase in distribution by 21%. The innovate techniques and Research and Development in the area has led to a reduction of the company’s total inventories from 120 days to 65 days of annual turnover over the last five years. To speak of them. Ariel. 750 crore in 2002-03 and had a profitable outcome on all of its portfolio brands such as Tide. But for the most important part for us. This is to say that the same set of dealers for its products who market them all and thus the cost of marketing each product is saved in terms of distribution cost. Currently. about $1. P&G sales grew by 10% in the last quarter. 2003. P&G invests 4% of its worldwide sales.6bn or Rs 7. Their entire marketing strategy is based upon its principle (to speak exclusively in the Indian context) and thus they have only one marketing channel for all its products. The fact is that P & G believes in exploiting its resources and putting them to their maximum usage.thus the formulation of policies accordingly. Whisper. The distributor inventories have gone down from 35 days to five days in the same period. Pantene. Vicks grew at 8%. An analysis of the facts and figures shall tell us how effective this strategy works for P & G.500 crore in research and development. the Health Care Product sales were impacted in the year under review due to the proliferation of look-alike or pass-off 11 . To quote the Director’s Report. Pampers and also those leading brands such as Vicks and Head & Shoulders. it is important to appreciate its inherent advantage as a Proctor & Gamble product. Procter & Gamble India had a turnover of Rs.
organized and regulated by one company namely. (i) 6 Dealer – 16% This accounts for another area of competition in the local market namely those local brands which imitate the Vicks products in great detail and are often pose a confusion to the consumers in rural and semi urban markets.) The commission for each intermediatory is as follows. 12 . (2. Vicks Vaporub exports to markets such as Japan. These look-alike products posed a serious threat to the Health Care business. Proctor and Gamble Hygiene Products Ltd. This being the general and overall view of the strategy of Vicks. It is also to be noted that the market of Vicks Vaporub is not concentrated to India alone. we have to take an insight into the specific areas of the marketing strategy of the Vicks. Australia and the rest of Asia. All products are marketed by one single marketing channel. Research conducted by ORG – MARG and AC Nielsen indicated that the pass-off products were having an impact upon their Health Care business by upto 10% and in the case of Vicks Action 500 upto 54%. The strategy followed by Vicks for the marketing of the product may be understood as follows.) Vicks Vaporub or for that matter no product of Vicks does not have a separate market channel for itself. It was on account of this fact that P & G India adopted a crusade against look-alike products of Vicks in 1999-2000. (1.products in the market6 for the better part of the year. There were close to 60 lookalike brands of various VICKS products in the market.
These cause great problems in the assessment of real demand of the consumers and the 13 .1. 16% on the sale of the product.e.(ii) (iii) Distributor – 4% Super Distributor – 1 .) Another factor in this distribution channel is the presence of hoarders.e. depending upon the size and demand in the state.5% What is here important to note that the person who actually sells the product to the consumer gets the maximum i. one-forth of the share of the dealer. Also this fact has to be understood in the light of the peculiar fact of the existence of a Super Distributor. Now these hoarders are none else but what we call as black marketers and they are not specific to Vicks but in general hoard all products in the commodity segment especially the FMCGs. Vicks actually gets a higher share in market by using the area specific knowledge of these super distributors. who makes the goods available to the distributor gets 4% i. In our context. The distributor. Generally there are only one or two of super distributors in each state. (3. These super distributors are bulk distributors and actually account for the market building of Vicks or P & G products as any increase in market share of Vicks or and increase in demand in the market earns them handsome incentives for Vicks. Thus without actually getting into the hassles of dealing with local dealers and distributors. this implies the actual link between the company and the distributors.
effectively deal with the hoarding effect and do not allow the company to suffer on these counts. P & G has found an effective reply to this situation by the designing of their super distributor system. The advantage of being an non prescribed drug. They being aware of the local peculiarities. First they can negotiate on whole sale prices on account of bulk purchase and secondly they can also negotiate upon the transport and delivery upon their own terms to them by the super distributor. the cost of giving samples to the doctors is saved considerably. In this manner.) Then again. thus raising the prices. They store the goods in great bulks and lead to artificial scarcity of products. 14 . It is estimated that about 50 to 60 percent of the entire supply of Vicks Vaporub is through this MR route.) The collection of order from the local dealers is a task left upon the MRs (Medical Representatives) who collect orders and report to the distributors. (4. (5.real consumption of the products. who also employ them for this purpose. the segregation of the orders received through MRs and direct orders is considerable. they not only gain on the count of the commission of the distributor but also get twofold advantage. The rest is in the form of direct purchase of the dealers (which comprises a significant portion of the sales volume) from the super distributor.
has been that the consumers have sought to rely on Vicks as a part and parcel of their daily lives as such. accordingly. By this it can be understood as to how dominating the effect of Vicks has been. 15 . Thus it has constantly tried to lure the consumers to stay with it while penetrating the market deeper. 7 As found from a consumer sample of about 60 people in Jodhpur. each and other offers. P & G has sought to present both its market leaders and having a distinct aim and objective and thus sought to gain a recognition of the product in the eyes of the consumer. It is aware of the presence of other competitors and thus it has not remained static in terms of its promotional strategy and has also simultaneously been incumbent upon increasing its market share by indulging into intensive promotions strategies such as free Vicks Inhaler along with Vicks Vaporub. a pack of Vicks Vaporub can be located. And what is important to note is that where it is not present. The effect.) Vicks has been posed as the Health Care Brand of P & G India. 20% extra on each pack of 50g. Through this.(6. In almost each and every household7.) That Vicks does not count solely upon its share as a market leader. (7. consumers still refer the other ointments (which they use) as Vicks only. Whisper is characterized as female hygiene brand. discounts.
Thus targeting them alone does not serve our purpose of increasing the market share of the product or the sales volume. (ii) This segment being not required to establish a separate marketing channel and encashing upon the brand image of Vicks Vaporub by passing upon their goods under the name of Vicks. All other brands in this segment are just saturated as far as their market share is concerned. Thus they have to be dealt with collectively and not individually. What is required instead is to compete with the unbranded competitors and also to look upon other related products which also serve the same generic needs. Thus they are preferred in those areas (especially rural and semi urban) where cost and not health/quality is the primary concern. (iii) Most of the sale of their products is due to the aid of the local dealers who seek to sell their products even when Vicks product is demanded. they are cost efficient. 16 . First we shall deal with the unbranded segment.DEVELOPING A SUITABLE COMPETITIVE MARKETING STRATEGY It is a tough task to design a competitive marketing strategy for Vicks Vaporub in the Indian market for the reason that it does not have visible competitors. This segment has certain peculiarities. Therefore for our understanding we shall deal with them separately. Therefore it is these areas in where Vicks Vaporub needs to find space. (i) It is hard to trace and attribute them to a particular region or area as they work locally and have different manufacturers for different areas.
(b) Since the need in the untapped market is of a product which is effective but of lesser costs. Thus Vicks Vaporub has to effectively deal with these dealers who actually cut their market. This shall protect them against the inducement of the manufacturers of local and unbranded products to sell their products. These peculiarities have been accounted for in devising the competitive marketing strategy for Vicks Vaporub. in our opinion. Nevertheless the venture is worth profitable as there is a large market to explore and the cost of having local distributor in those areas may not be high comparatively on account of the existing brand image of Vicks Vaporub.This is to say they that it is because of the aid of the local dealers that the unbranded products are sold. has not sought to venture into this as it shall lead to increase in distribution cost on account of the increase of a market intermediatory. Vicks Vaporub. It is presently being used only for traveling purposes in the urban segment and thus still has a vast area of expansion. This shall bring Vicks Vaporub on competitive terms with the cheaper products8 as smaller brands have been competitive 8 It should be noted that Vicks Vaporub is already available in 5g pack which costs Rs. it is advisable to continue with it except for the incorporation of the following which should also be accounted for in order to expand its market share and also to acquire those areas which are under the occupation of the indirect competitors. it has not been made available in the rural and semi urban segment is such quantity as it should have been and thus the market penetration has not been made possible to such extent which was expected with this size. But the same also requires a deeper marketing channel to trap this segment. 17 . Vicks Vaporub should look out for introducing packs in smaller sizes and weight. However due to the failure of marketing department and the distribution channel. 9/. Having reviewed the existing strategy for the Marketing of Vicks Vaporub and its successful implementation. (a) Vicks Vaporub should continue to give the margin of 16% to the dealers.
18 9 . what is advised is to concentrate on the 50g pack. it is over priced. 9/-. 10 Which is also the least consumed among the four sizes available. semiurban market with them respectively.either by offering better quantity. This shall cut the packing costs on the other two sizes and also make the products segment specific. (c) Another way of increasing its share in the market is to raise the per capita consumption. This shall lead to a reaffirmation in the market leadership of Vicks Vaporub as a brand of Proctor and Gamble. Unlike the last campaign. consumption among the consumers but also bring more consumers in the 50g size from those who prefer to stay in the 10g size on account of its price. 100g @ Rs. do away with the 100g size10 and to be cost effective on the 50g size. 40/-. However it may cut the share on account of 10g pack which is also widely used in the urban segment.and 5g @ Rs. Thus more research is required before actually doing away with the 10g size. Presently the various sizes available are. 55/-. To increase its per capita consumption. 15/. This shall lower the margin on each product but the increase in consumption volume shall not only compensate for the margin but also increase the production efficiency. the emphasis this We would like to appreciate the change over of Vicks Vaporub from tin packs to plastic coverings as the tin packs would lose their share in falling and were also prone to rust. 10g @ Rs. freebies or price to the value-conscious Indian consumer. Especially the 5g pack in tin was difficult to open. 11 It is much more suited to keep only two sizes of 50g and 5g and to target the urban and lower. This inconvenience has been removed by the switch over to plastic packs.9 Among these. the 50g size is the most preferred but comparing it with the 100g size. 50g @ Rs.11 (d) Vicks Vaporub must launch an intensive advertising campaign on similar lines as was earlier undertaken in 2000 and which lead to a tremendous boost in sales and resulted in an increase in its market share.
Thus it must press upon this fact and seek to cover those competitors which prefer other indigenous items because they are unaware that Vicks Vaporub actually has the same components that are used for traditional methods.e. The reason for this assertion lies in the natural ingredients of Vicks Vaporub. (v) has a external application and thus has no side effects. (vi) is useful for all ages. Nilgiri (Eucalyptus Oil). and then only it can seek to acquire the market share influenced by other indirect competitors. (iii) is easier to carry. 19 . (e) Vicks Vaporub should encash upon its competitive advantage to gain a larger share in the market. (vii) is less greasy and smells better (than other products of the same type) etc. (iv) has a quick effect.time should be in market penetration and increase in per capita consumption (as explained above) rather than on an increase in the market coverage. (f) It has to encash the factors making it competitively superior i. Pudina (Menthol) and Kapoor (Camphor) are the three basic indredients of Vicks Vaporub which provides faster. (i) safe and effective. This is for the reason that an increase in market share with this objective shall not lead to any increase in the distribution cost but shall lead to a greater utilization of its existing distribution channels. longerlasting relief from cold and its accompanying ails. (ii) as a product which can be used regularly and has no side effects. The advantage it derives from its medicinal properties must be used to counter the indigenous and native drugs.
since its introduction in the market has been performing like a market leader and actually realizes this fact to frame its policies. The peculiar design of distribution. having one single marketing channel to distribute all its products. Nevertheless. The Company is placing considerable energies behind strengthening the Vicks Brand in India and further building its core health care business. Thus to 20 . an effort has been made to understand the indirect competition being faced by Vicks Vaporub (which at all is any cause of concern for Vicks. Vicks Vaporub.) has led Vicks towards the monopoly over the market and it wishes to cut down the costs on unnecessary advertising. if any) and upon an analysis. certain steps have been recommended to counter the same. Proctor and Gamble India has ingenuinely devised a way to retrieve the most of its investment.CONCLUSION To design a competitive marketing strategy for a brand which has almost no visible competitors is not an easy task. This fact and state of mind of P & G as regards Vicks is the major limitation faced in recommending upon efforts to improve the existing strategy. which has already expanded a vast net over the country. Vicks Action 500 tablets etc. It is found that Vicks Vaporub has presently been thriving upon the urban and to some extent upon the semi urban segment of the population. The reason why P & G does not wish to further emphasis the promotion of Vicks Vaporub is that it has already become a mega-brand and then the introduction of other Vicks products having different packaging and targeting the same needs (like Vicks Cough Drops.
we find that. its repurchase customers are enough and sufficient to keep it at the present rate of return. the second case called for an expansion in the distribution channel besides also designing a suitable size for the rural and semi urban segment with a special emphasis on the cost and quantity offered. It is important to understand here that Vicks Vaporub can afford to sell upon its brand image as from now. it would not only be hard. But relief lies in the fact that though Vicks Vaporub may be in its late maturity phase yet.increase the market share it can either adopt to go for a deeper penetration of the existing segment or further explore the unexplored areas. To speak on a holistic basis. there lies a great market to explore and even Vicks for that matter should 21 . it is found that Vicks Vaporub as a product may already have achieved its maturity stage if one was to trace it on the product life cycle curve. However. This being the case. but cumbersome for any competitor to acquire a part of market share belonging to it. Vicks Vaporub has gained and secured a monopolistic position in the Indian market and. While the first case called for a increase in per capita consumption of the existing consumers by a suitable modification in the product size and the price structure. great reliance needs to be given for its reinforcement. to around a further period of five years without any substantial changes. Further. the rate of growth of the Indian healthcare industry and particulary the rate at which the population is affected by cough and cold.
22 . It is thus high time now for the Vicks Vaporub to extend its drive to the rural and semi urban areas and expand the market coverage to ensure the continuity of growing returns and increasing sales volume.not make the already attractive market more prone to a competitor attack by going on with the existing strategy and no product development.
there being no separate distribution link for Vicks Vaporub. (3. we had to rely on the figures available for the distribution of P & G products in India.) Also. it was difficult to determine the exact market share of the competitors in the unbranded segment and the figures have been based upon an average of the figures as received by us from various dealers in Jodhpur and Agra. the presence of hoarders and their trade practices was a great limitation to the understanding of the level of consumption in different segments and markets and a comparative analysis thereon. (2. (4.) Also.LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY (1.) Firstly. the non disclosure of the identities of the super distributor on account of ignorance or trade secrets to us posed a barrier towards a more data based study. 23 .) Next.
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