Brand Health Check: Bold

LONDON - The laundry detergent brand has been losing sales as P&G stablemate Daz is thriving.

For housewives everywhere, it was tantamount to a revolution: washing detergent and fabric softener in one. This was the dramatic step taken by Procter & Gamble when it launched Bold in the UK in 1972.

The brand, which has had successive incarnations as Bold 3, Bold Automatic and, most recently, Bold 2in1, was based on the proposition that it was cheaper and easier to buy than two separate products. In ad campaigns going back 30 years, wily mums have been seen folding laundry and boasting about the extra pennies they had saved.

Yet, Bold has shifted its position over the years, promoting its scented products and flip-flopping through straplines such as 'Wake up and smell the laundry' and 'Part of the fabric of life'. Most recently it hired Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden to front 'The big bold hug' - a softness-focused drive.

However, sales fell by 14% year on year in the 12 months to October 2009 to £67.5m, according to Nielsen, while market-leader and fellow P&G brand Daz grew its sales by roughly the same to £73.7m. Bold's 2009 marketing budget was not insignificant, with Nielsen estimating a media spend of £6.5m, but this trails both P&G's Ariel and Unilever-owned Persil, at £8m and £13.5m respectively. So, can Bold get sales growing again?

We asked Pete Hollingsworth, managing creative director at FutureBrand, who has worked on the launch of P&G brands in Asia, and Mhairi McEwan, co-founder of Brand Learning, who was previously vice-president of marketing at Unilever.

 

PETE HOLLINGSWORTH, managing creative director, FutureBrand

Bold was the first 2-in-1 detergent and conditioner brand, launched under a convenience platform at the same time as shampoo-conditioners.

Despite improvements to fragrance and cleaning functionality within Bold, the needs of the consumer have moved on. Thanks to advances in washing machine technology, consumers have a greater desire for cleaner clothes of differing fabrics and greater fragrance delivery.

They have turned to single-minded product proposition brands - such as Ariel's Excel Gel - which are also offering greater convenience. Furthermore, some brands are delivering better, longer-lasting fragrances, such as Comfort's Twilight Sensations range.

So, Bold has been left behind by the consumer. It is lacking in real innovation and communication support. The public demands choice and the 2-in-1 option simply does not deliver this. If Bold wants to stay ahead of the game with its delivery systems, it needs to continually raise the bar and take the lead from counterparts in other categories, such as Finish dishwashing products.

Finish constantly innovates with revolutionary platforms and has a varied portfolio that offers something for everybody.

Remedy

- Bold needs to find a winning combination by repositioning itself and introducing breakthrough innovation.

- So, what comes after 2-in-1? 3-in-1? 4-in-1? Concentrated? Format delivery systems, anyone?

- Reinvigorate Bold's cleaning credentials and match them with fabulous longer-lasting fragrance. Oh, and if it could iron my shirts while it's at it...

MHAIRI MCEWAN, co-founder and managing director, Brand Learning

Bold has an identity crisis. Is it a washing powder or is it a fabric conditioner?

As Bold 3, then Bold 2in1, it has constantly reinvented itself. From starting life as a great-value offer, now it is seems to be defined around 'indulgence' - not optimal during a global recession.

Bold's identity crisis goes to the heart of its proposition. Washing powders are about cleaning efficiency.

Managing dirty laundry is a boring, yet necessary job. Innovation within the fabric conditioner category has brought better softness and fantastic fragrance offers as well as a more pleasurable touch of individuality to this daily task.

The category is hugely complex, with powders, liquids, tablets, gels, concentrates and so on.

P&G and Unilever, expert marketers both, have created a diversity of choice for a simple household task that is almost overwhelming at point of sale.

Strong brands need clear positioning: either encompassing all the main category benefits, or clearly segmented and positioned to offer more focused benefits to a narrower target consumer group. It's not clear that Bold has either of these two positioning routes covered.

Remedy

- Look back into Bold's history to reconnect with the roots of the brand.

- Focus less on exotic fragrances and luxury - this is more than covered by fabric conditioners, which now echo fine fragrances in their plethora of choice.

- Position Bold clearly to younger, busy people, with no time and strapped for cash, who want a fast, practical, no-nonsense solution to washing, softening and freshening laundry.

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