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Colgate’s SlimSoft Charcoal Toothbrush in India: Bristling with Buzz Marketing

CASELET, CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
ET Cases, 8 Pages

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Colgate’s SlimSoft Charcoal Toothbrush in India: Bristling with Buzz Marketing

 

Colgate Palmolive (India) Limited (Colgate) wanted to launch its Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush (a toothbrush with black bristles that was infused with charcoal) in India. Faced with the task of creating word-of-mouth publicity for this product, the company carried out an innovative social media campaign to create excitement around the toothbrush and to make consumers aware of its benefits. BlogAdda, a community of Indian bloggers, sent a black item each for three consecutive days to key bloggers, media houses and corporate executives. The details of either the company whose product was being launched or the product category were not revealed. These influencers had to post pictures of the mystery items sent to them on social media channels, guess the product being launched and, thus, generate buzz around the product being launched. By the fourth day, when the bloggers had received a toothbrush each and they had posted photographs of the toothbrush, considerable interest was generated among the target audience about the product. However, will the charcoal toothbrush be able to capitalize upon the initial interest generated among consumers and register sustained long-term sales?.............

The Challenge Facing Colgate

Colgate Palmolive Company, an American multinational company and a maker of oral care, personal care and home care products was present in India since 1937. In the toothbrush category, Colgate had a market share of 42.6% for January-June 2014.1

In the second half of 2014, Colgate wanted to launch its Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush (Exhibit I) in India – a product that was available in some of the other  markets where Colgate Palmolive Company operated. The SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush was India’s first and only toothbrush featuring bristles infused with Charcoal and was based on the traditional Indian knowledge of the oral care advantages of charcoal.2 The bristles were black in color. Bristles infused with charcoal were  perceived to be a solution for bacteria in dental plaque..............

 



1“Colgate’s 1Q Net Sales Up 13%, Net Profit Up 4%”, http://www.colgate.co.in/app/Colgate/IN/Corp/News/EarningNews/HomePage.cvsp?newsArticle=News_250714, July 25th 2014 (accessed date: December 15th 2014)
2Meghna Sharma, “#Whattheblack : Colgate’s charcoal toothbrush”, http://www.indiantelevision.com/mam/marketing/brands/whattheblack-colgate-s-charcoal-toothbrush-140812,August 12th 2014 (accessed date: December 15th 2014)

Teaching Note Preview

  • Colgate’s SlimSoft Charcoal Toothbrush in India: Bristling with Buzz Marketing

 

Synopsis

Colgate Palmolive (India) Limited (Colgate) wanted to launch its Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush (a toothbrush with black bristles and which was infused with charcoal) in India. Faced with the task of creating word-of-mouth publicity for this product, the company launched an innovative social media campaign to create buzz for the product. Selected bloggers, media houses and other opinion leaders were sent a black item every day for three consecutive days by BlogAdda, a community of Indian bloggers. There was no mention of either Colgate or the product and bloggers had to guess the product category associated with the launch. These influencers also had to create excitement about the product being launched on social media channels by, primarily, posting photographs of the mystery items sent to them and by guessing the product being launched. By the fourth day, when the toothbrush was sent to the bloggers and they had posted pictures of the same, Colgate was successful in evincing interest among several netizens. However, will the initial interest generated among consumers about the charcoal toothbrush convert into sustained long-term sales?

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU)/Before the Classroom Discussion

This caselet’s discussion would be more effective if the participants understand the nuances of Buzz Marketing. A preliminary understanding of this concept can be had from the following suggested chapter:

  • • Leon G. Schiffman, et al., “Chapter 9: Communication and Consumer Behavior”, Consumer Behavior, 10th Edition, Pearson Education, Inc., 2010 – To understand how opinion leaders and buzz marketing can be employed to arouse interest in a product prior to its launch, and to understand the differences between Buzz Marketing and Viral Marketing

 

Case Positioning and Setting

This caselet is positioned for discussing how companies use buzz marketing to create the excitement for their products. Ideally suited for “Communication and Consumer Behavior” chapter of Consumer Behavior course, this caselet can be used in MBA, Executive MBA programs and Digital Marketing module.

Assignment Questions

  • I. What are the differences between Buzz Marketing and Viral Marketing? Are they mutually exclusive or should they be used as complements?
  • II. How did Colgate create buzz for its Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush? Who are opinion leaders? Why do you think the company chose the buzz marketing route to precede the launch its disruptive product, the Colgate SlimSoft charcoal toothbrush?
  • III. ........................

 

Case Analysis

The classroom discussion was facilitated under three broad sections as explained in Exhibit (TN)-I.................

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Abstract


This caselet demonstrates how buzz marketing and opinion leaders can be employed to create word-of-mouth publicity for a low-involvement product. Colgate Palmolive (India) Limited (Colgate) wanted to launch its Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush (a toothbrush with black bristles and which was infused with charcoal) in India. It launched an innovative social media campaign to create buzz for the product before the launch. Selected bloggers, media houses and corporate executives were sent a black item every day for three days by BlogAdda, a community of Indian bloggers. There was no mention of either Colgate or the product category and bloggers had to guess the product category prior to the launch. These influencers also had to create excitement about the product being launched on social media channels by, primarily, posting photographs of the mystery items sent to them and by guessing the product being launched. By the fourth day, when the toothbrush was sent to the bloggers and they had posted pictures of the same, Colgate was successful in creating enough interest among its target audience. However, will the initial interest generated among consumers about the charcoal toothbrush convert into sustained long-term sales?



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand how Colgate Palmolive (India) Limited created buzz by co-opting opinion leaders (influencers) blogs for one of its innovative products, the Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush
  • To discuss and debate the efficacy of buzz marketing for new product launches
  • To examine the relationship between buzz marketing and viral marketing and discuss whether buzz marketing would help in creating the relevant brand communities

Case Positioning and Setting

This caselet is positioned for discussing how companies use buzz marketing to create the excitement for their products. Ideally suited for 'Communication and Consumer Behavior' chapter of Consumer Behavior course, this caselet can be used in MBA, Executive MBA programs and Digital Marketing module.





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