Last Updated 27 Jan 2021

Cottle-Taylor Analysis

Category Brand, Retail
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Question 1: Cottle-Taylor A company’s marketing mix strategy is key to their success. Thorough analysis is needed to assure that product attributes, distribution strategy, communication strategy and pricing strategy are all in line with the company’s strategic goal. The following analysis is of Cottle-Taylor’s marketing mix strategy in India. Product Attributes: Cottle-Taylor has three product categories in order to reach their three market segments: 1) Low-End Manual, 2) Mid-Range Manual, and 3) Battery-Operated. The manual toothbrush designs include “a variety of colors; all styles included rubber grips” (HBR 6).

In the Low-End category Cottle-Taylor produced 5 different products with varying characteristics ranging from soft bristles, to flexible necks for minimal gum irritation, to kid sized brushes. This category contains a basic toothbrush with no significant innovation. The Mid-Range category has two products that have slightly more advanced features such as multi-angled bristles and tongue cleaner. The Battery-Operated is the most advanced category in terms of innovation and product characteristics. It contains two electric toothbrush models with rotating bristles that perform 3,000 strokes a minute.

Distribution Strategy: Cottle-Taylor has three distribution tactics in order to penetrate the large dispersed retail scene in India: 1) 20 distributors that focus on the large retail outlets in urban cities, 2) 250 medium sized distributors serving wholesalers and retailers in semi urban areas, and 3) “seed” distributors who work with over 300,000 outlets in small villages across the country (HBR 7). In the retail outlets in urban cities Cottle-Taylor mainly supplies their Mid-Range and Battery-Operated models to capitalize on higher-income Indians who shop at supermarkets.

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Cottle-Taylor uses “seed” distributors to supply the numerous small villages with its basic line. They see no value in building relationships because there are too many small stores and “seed” distributors speak the language. However, communicating key selling points was hard and assuring their products were visible in the small cluttered stores was impossible. Communication Strategy: Cottle-Taylor had three key communication messages in India: 1) Persuading consumers to brush for the first time, 2) Increasing incidences of brushing, and 3) Persuading consumers to upgrade to Mid-Range or Premium

Products (HBR 8). They allocated 12% of sales on the advertising budget, which broke down into 9% for advertisements and 3% for promotions. The main target demographics are men and women ages 20-35 in rural and urban areas that currently brush or don’t brush. It is important to build awareness and educate consumers on the benefits of tooth brushing and they did this through the use of TV, radio, billboards and prints ads. Pricing Strategy: Cottle-Taylor prices their toothbrushes in respect to their target segments.

The low-end brushes range from . 22-. 35 cents, the medium-end ranges from . 52-. 98 cents and the high-end ranges from $1-11. In terms of driving success in India, Cottle-Taylor’s strategy is strongest in the area of communication. They successfully positioned and communicated to customers that they are “an authority on oral care” (HBR 5) and consumers hold their products in high regard. Partnering with IDA has given their brand great credibility and helped them become an industry leader holding 47% of the oral care market share.

As shown in Exhibit 5, Cottle-Taylor has experienced 53% growth in market share for toothbrushes from 2004-2009 and 47% growth in oral care market share. They ran successful campaigns where, “among rural residents…those exposed to the campaigns were twice as likely to adopt tooth brushing within a year than those who had not been exposed” (HBR 5). In just five years they have almost dominated the oral care market and a key contributor to their success is their communication strategy.

Their weakest strategy in the marketing mix is product attributes. It appears Cottle-Taylor has not fully understood their market segments when designing products for India. Looking at exhibit 8, it is clear the majority of demand is for the Low-End Manual with 87% of sales. The least amount of demand is for the Battery-Operated brush with only . 5% of sales. With 80% of the population in India living under $2 a day, does it make sense to market a high-end expensive product in India?

Exhibit 4 shows that a very small percentage of Indians have sufficient amounts of disposable income to spend on expensive toothbrushes. India has a very small concentration of high income and a very large number of people living in poverty. The Battery-Operated brush is mainly marketed in urban areas however, “in 2009 roughly 78% of Indians lived in rural towns and villages and 22% in urban settings” (HBR 3). This is a very small percent of the population they are trying to capture with the high-end toothbrush. Overall, this is a very comprehensive marketing strategy.

Cottle-Taylor has segmented the market and created specific products for each market. As mentioned earlier, the high-end segment does not have significant demand, which insinuates the segments could have been analyzed more. With this said, Cottle-Taylor has done a good job at navigating the complex retail scene in India through their distribution strategy. It is clear that Cottle-Taylor has successfully marketed their brand through communications mediums because there is high brand awareness and favorable brand positioning.

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