A marketing plan is a comprehensive document that covers an organization’s product promotion efforts for a given year. The establishment of a marketing plan is essential for any given business since it is one of the strategies that bolster competitiveness (Basch et al. 2013). Both small and large companies maintain a marketing plan that guides the policies aimed at promoting the sales of their products or services. Usually, organizations refer to their marketing plan at least once a month or quarterly. Keeping track of the progress regarding the marketing aspect of operations is useful since it facilitates an evaluation of the failures and successes attained. Importantly, the key stakeholders in a company need to be aware of the marketing strategy applied. Knowledge of the marketing plan ensures that the stakeholders make significant and realistic inputs that influence the strategies positively (Rampier 2012).
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Established by William Colgate in 1806, the Colgate Company has been applying strategic marketing plans over the years to foster the competitiveness of its mouthwash and oral care products. The introduction of oral care products occurred in 1873 (Berger 2010). The current market situation places Colgate’s products as one of the most-sought after compared to its rivals such as Pepsodent, Close-up, and Dabur. Thus, carrying out a SWOT analysis of the product is essential for assessing the performance of the company’s marketing plan over the period that it has been in operation. Further, evaluating the goals and objectives of Colgate would provide a better understanding of the factors that promote or undermine the company’s success. The marketing mix applied by Colgate is worth analyzing to understand how it manages the aspects of its product, place, price, and promotion. Therefore, this paper focuses on Colgate’s marketing plan investigating the areas of the current market situation, market analysis, objectives, and goals of the marketing strategies employed.
Current Market Situation
The current market conditions place Colgate as a trusted oral care and mouthwash product offered to customers in various regions around the globe. The Colgate brand incorporates an array of oral hygiene products including mouthwashes, toothpaste, and dental floss (Singh 2012). As noted earlier, the launching of oral health products occurred one and a half decades after the death of the founder, William Colgate. Therefore, the Colgate brand has been on the market for at least 144 years.
Colgate applies an effective market segmentation strategy that enables it to meet the needs of customers from different backgrounds. Market segmentation refers to the subdivision of a company’s market base to facilitate research on the needs of the various groups it serves with products or services. In this respect, Colgate currently applies different segmentation approaches covering the aspects of demographics, psychographics, and behavior (Basch & Rajan 2014). The demographic segmentation allows Colgate to sell toothpaste to both the adult and children categories. For the case of adults, it sells several brands of toothpaste that meet the needs such as teeth whitening and reducing sensitivity (Byron 2011).
On the other hand, Colgate has split the kids’ market into four age groups that include 0-2, 2-5, 5-8, and 8-12 years. Colgate provides the 0-2 year’s group with toothpaste that is devoid of fluoride components to prevent damaging the developing teeth. The company also serves the 8-12 years category with transition toothpaste as they advance to adulthood (Basch & Rajan 2014). The psychographic and psychological aspects of segmentation that Colgate employs focus on the personality, values, and lifestyles of the consumers. The toothpaste sold to these segments depends on the needs of the customers as well as their background.
Colgate’s main competitor is Pepsodent. Pepsodent enjoys a swift distribution channel provided by HUL as it seeks to penetrate the markets dominated by Colgate. However, Colgate’s brand value gives it an edge over Pepsodent and other competitors including Close-up and Dabur (Berger 2010). However, to boost competition, Colgate has improved its distribution networks in the recent past as denoted by the accessibility of its products in at least 200 countries.
SWOT Analysis for Colgate Marketing Strategies
Undoubtedly, an array of internal and external factors affect the performance of Colgate’s marketing strategies. Thus, the integration of a SWOT analysis is useful for the sake of understanding its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The strengths and weaknesses denote the internal marketing factors whereas the opportunities and threats comprise of the external factors.
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Colgate enjoys a profound brand recall and visibility, making it a household name in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. Further, Colgate has a broad product line ranging from oral care to pet nutrition that promotes the lowering of the costs incurred in logistics (Berger 2010). The wide distribution web used by Colgate makes its supply chain efficiency and thus, fosters the availability of toothpaste in both rural and urban markets. The healthy financial status of the company built for over two centuries gives Colgate an edge over rivals such as HUL in fostering the efficiency of its marketing strategies (Bhasin 2016a). Moreover, the substantial market share of Colgate in various regions makes it continue leading the pack in the FMCG industry.
The saturated toothpaste market undermines a greater expansion of Colgate’s market share as rivals offer similar products in various markets. The market has commoditized the Colgate brand implying that players use it to promote their toothpaste products (Singh 2012). Ineffective cost controls have seen the company struggle to make profits without hiking its prices thereby, giving rivals an opportunity to capitalize. Further, Colgate offers limited brands in different market segments compared to its competitors thus, providing an opportunity for rival companies to make strategic moves to fill the gaps left (Bhasin 2016a).
Colgate can broaden its product line in the different market segments in a way that would meet the unique needs of customers thereby, improving the sales (Byron 2011). An improvement of its distribution channel to offer products in the rural market would go a long way towards beating the saturation issue it faces in the FMCG sector. Mergers and acquisitions would also reinforce the marketing strategies of the company by expanding the company’s operations in new markets (Bhasin 2016a). Additionally, communicating the usage rate of toothpaste in its promotional engagement would be useful in predicting the timing aspect of marketing.
Intensified competition has made it difficult for customers to differentiate the products offered by Colgate from those provided by competitors. Further, counterfeit toothpaste has damaged Colgate’s brand image (Bhasin 2016a). Small profit margins also undermine the sustainability of the company’s marketing strategies. The heightening cost of materials forces Colgate to increase prices which could prompt customers to look for similar products that go at lower prices (Berger 2010). Further, ethical issues arising from the animal testing allegation made against Colgate could tarnish the company’s image (Basch et al. 2013). The diversified oral care industry triggers various brand switching behaviors among consumers thereby affecting the consistency of Colgate’s marketing outcomes.
The Objectives of Colgate’s Marketing Strategies
Colgate has several targets and goals for its sales volume, market share, and profit. The company seeks to bolster the growth of its declining sales volume in the toothpaste business and thus, promote financial stability. To realize this, Colgate needs to surpass $16.034 trillion net sales globally achieved in 2015, a lower figure compared to the $17.3 trillion recorded in 2014 (Colgate-Palmolive: 2015 Annual Report 2016).
Currently, Colgate boasts of a significant 55% of the market share in the oral care sector. Its competitors including HUL and Dabur claim 21% and 14% of the market share respectively (Colgate-Palmolive: 2015 Annual Report 2016). Thus, creating a marketing plan that would yield a 2% growth of the market share would be highly commendable. The goal of the company is to dominate the sector by gaining a substantial market share in the global toothpaste markets.
The 2014 and 2015 financial years realized insignificant profit growth for Colgate denoted by the 20.6% and 17.4% profit margins respectively (Colgate-Palmolive: 2015 Annual Report 2016). Thus, achieving a profit margin of 20% in the subsequent financial years would be healthy. Colgate upholds the goal of realizing global growth and economic development would be an indication of securing the target.
Colgate’s Marketing Mix
Evidently, the Colgate brand is one of the most successful in the globe as over half of the world’s households purchase the company’s toothpaste products. In this light, the marketing mix of the business is very successful owing to the reputation of the brand. Thus, analyzing the 4Ps of the brand is relevant for the sake of understanding the aspects of the product, place, price, and promotion. The presence of the brand in over 200 countries suggests that the management of the company ensures that the customers can access the product easily and at affordable prices (Bhasin 2016a). The product promotional efforts also showcase success owing to the growing market share of the company’s products globally.
The Colgate brand concentrates on a broad range of goods associated with oral hygiene. The company offers several varieties of toothpaste to almost every group of customers situated in over 200 countries (Bhasin 2016b). The company has also introduced products that meet the oral hygiene needs of children thereby, showing the comprehensiveness of Colgate’s marketing strategies. The Colgate kitty of products is complemented by toothbrushes that have soft bristles capable of reaching every nook of the mouth to combat germs and tooth decay (Berger 2010).
Besides the toothbrush, Colgate also offers mouthwash and toothpowder as one of its conventional products. The two products serve different categories of the company’s target market. Providing the products to various customer segments is a marketing strategy that seeks to fulfill the dynamic and unique needs of its customers (Berger 2010). For instance, people experiencing oral issues such as bad breath find the mouthwash as useful in cleaning their mouth.
Importantly, Colgate aims at providing products that enhance dental hygiene successfully (Bhasin 2016a). Hence, the toothpaste contains abrasive components including fluoride that facilitates the removal of the plaque from the teeth. Further, the materials used to make the toothpaste polish the surface of the teeth satisfactorily by removing the hidden food stains.
Currently, Colgate serves the market with at least 13 toothpaste products (Berger 2010). The products meet the needs of customers in various ways including the cavity protection, plaque and gingivitis protection, and offering extended duration of fresh breath. Additionally, the products relieve sensitivity, strengthen the enamel, whiten teeth, and control tartar (Bhasin 2016b). The solutions offered by the product win the confidence of the customers hence, creating an appealing brand image.
The uniqueness of the strategies applied by Colgate contributes to its exceptional performance in the market. The company’s products are readily available in different regions (Basch et al. 2013). The company has a streamlined supply management system that allows the manufacture and delivery of the products to suppliers. The company’s stable distribution channels are accountable for the creation of new customer bases and the maintenance of the interests and expectations of regular customers.
Colgate liaises with dental stores that facilitate the accessibility of its products in different areas (Bhasin 2016b). The availability of the products in almost all the retail stores, departmental stores, and supermarkets accounts for the high sales made by Colgate. Customers in the rural, semi-rural, and urban markets can access the products without challenges (Rampier 2012). Moreover, Colgate uses various online platforms to foster the accessibility of its products. A single click allows customers to visit the company’s website and other online shopping portals to order for a variety of Colgate’s products (Berger 2010). The move has made it convenient for customers by saving them shopping time. The accessibility of the products offered by Colgate makes the company the only one to find in over half of the world’s households. It signifies the efficiency of its marketing strategies (Colgate-Palmolive: 2015 Annual Report 2016).
Colgate observes a competitive pricing policy primarily, for its toothpaste products since they account for the company’s mainstream offerings (Bhasin 2016a). The company sells its products at prices that are comparable to those of competitors or slightly high. The pricing strategy seeks to alter the psychology of the customers to the company’s benefit by underlining the positive and sustainable advantages of using its products.
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The additional cost that the customers incur for purchasing Colgate’s toothpaste is insignificant compared to the effectiveness of the products in improving their oral health (Bhasin 2016b). The company also prices its unique products varyingly to meet the purchasing power of different sections of its customer base. For instance, due to its extra whitening capabilities, the marketing team prices the Visible White toothpaste highly compared to Max Fresh, which provides regular dental care (Berger 2010). Furthermore, “the company adjusts its prices reasonably to avoid exerting a substantial financial burden to customers thus, sustain its customer base” (Berger 2010. P. 21).
Colgate Company packages its products in a range of sizes to reinforce the attractiveness aspect of marketing. The 50g, 100g, 200g, and 500g packs have different prices that ensure the affordability of the products to customers with diverse backgrounds (Basch et al. 2013). The company also offers additional quantities to customers as part of its product promotion strategies (Bhasin 2016b). The pricing strategy has been integral in bolstering the sales figures that result in the generation of high revenues.
The Colgate brand has earned its reputation thanks to attractive packing as well as innovative advertising. The use of red color as the standard packaging shade makes the appearance of products “synonymous” with the company’s brand when one sees them on the shelves (Berger 2010). The beautiful in-store arrangements are useful in reinforcing the promotional aspects of the brand.
The establishment of several advertising policies enables Colgate to promote its products through different platforms. The objective of the company’s promotion is to increase sales volume, win new customers, and enlighten clients on the benefits of its products. Colgate uses a communication mix that comprises electronic media platforms such as radio and television as well as print media like magazines and newspapers to achieve these objectives. It also uses billboards and hoardings to promote toothpaste brands (Basch et al. 2013). The popularity of the internet to both the customers and the company has made it a strategic product promotion platform that heightens the company’s revenues (Wilken & Sinclair 2011).
Colgate provides valuable information to customers via its website. The information provided promotes the product by detailing the benefits of trying them. Further, the social media accounts that Colgate manages such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace create an interactive platform where the company can get customer feedbacks regarding its products (Bhasin 2016b).
Colgate has adopted an efficient marketing plan that is accountable for its dominance in the FMCG sector. The high brand image created by effective marketing strategies has reinforced the company’s competitive edge against HUL and Dabur. However, the company needs to broaden its product line to fulfill the needs of the different market segments. Further, penetrating the emerging markets in developing countries would be a strategic move that would bolster the realization of its target sales, market share, and profits.
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