The Dettol Row: From Bathroom Wrangles to Kitchen Squabbles
Dettol, the flagship brand of Reckitt Benckiser (RB) has been a household name in India since its launch in the year 1933. Pitched on the distinctive attribute of germ-free protection, Dettol has attempted to leverage upon its brand strength by introducing a string of extensions ranging from personal care, personal hygiene, and household cleaners to medicated products categories. Most of these extensions attempting to bank on the core values of the parent brand directly targeted wellestablished brands in their respective categories, often heading for a brand war between them. However, most of the brand extensions of Dettol have received lukewarm responses from consumers at large owing to a variety of reasons.
The last three decades have seen Dettol extending its germ-free campaign from disinfectant to soap to liquid soap categories. Furthermore, Dettol has been vying hard to be the toilet soap of choice by harping on its germ-free bath benefit, thereby taking on Unilever’s Lifebuoy, leading to an overlapping brand promise. This ongoing brand war between Dettol and Lifebuoy has had many a consumer perceive Dettol to be a brand to be placed in the bathroom bracket. In its latest brand extension avatar, Dettol attempts to take on Vim Liquid, a well-established kitchen cleaner brand from the Unilever stable. Is this a desperate attempt by RB to engage in combat with Unilever that transcends traditionally established categories for Dettol? Will this fight for space from the bathroom basins to the kitchenette tops help increase consumer mind share for Dettol? Or will this move by RB lead to a reverse swing diluting the Dettol parent brand, with consumers not wanting the same brand to be part of their personal care portfolio as well as on their kitchen sinks?
This case study attempts to focus on the aspect of brand extensions and trigger insights on how brand extensions in seemingly unrelated categories can be positioned effectively.
Expected Learning Outcomes
- • Focus on the pros and cons of extending brands into unrelated categories, that requires the reader to engage in Analysis of the case context
- • Gather insights on how brand extensions can be positioned to remain relevant across generations of consumers and product categories
- • Recognize the concept of brand elasticity and evaluate how it needs be considered in brand architecture and related communication (Evaluation) and prompting students to build in tradeoffs in their approach prompting them to compile information (Synthesis)
Case Positioning and Setting
The case study has been developed keeping in mind students taking up a structured management program. Alternately, executives opting for programs in Brand Management and Integrated Marketing Communication may also find it useful.
- • Kevin Lane Keller, et al., “Introducing and Naming New Products and Brand Extensions”, Strategic Brand Management, 3rd Edition, Pearson, 2011