Colgate localisation: a case study
When we say Colgate is a global brand, it is by no means a minuscule accomplishment. Started by William Colgate, the brand has been in business for over 200 years and now has managed to spread over 200 countries. The brand of Colgate is owned by Colgate-Palmolive Company which owns other brands such as Darlie, Fabuloso, Hills, Irish Spring, Palmolive, Sanex, Softsoap, Speed Stick, Suavitel, AJAX and Tom’s of Maine as well and is another American multinational consumer products company. The main work of Colgate can be summarised as; production, distribution, and supplying hygiene products to the globe.
The company initially started off as a small candle and soap business under William Colgate that in the wake of its success expanded to become a global brand that we all have come to know now. The three core values of the company: caring, global teamwork and continuous improvement are not only prominent within the products and the work done by the brand but it is also reflecting in the reputation of the brand in every country it has expanded services too. Of course, not all products and services can be generalised to every country due to diverse cultural differences and beliefs. Therefore, every product launched has to undergo the process of localisation to compete against other brands and also to survive as a global entity wholly.
Localisation strategies used to penetrate the Indian market:
- Product innovation: Colgate established its first factory in India in 1957 to make toothpaste for domestic household purposes. Since then the product has undergone several changes with changes in time. At first, toothpastes were available in jars but later when the company introduced the idea of toothpaste tubes, the whole economy of the brand changed rapidly. Since Colgate (at the time) was the only company that had made tube products available to its customers, the attention this brand sought was unlike any other at the time. Later, when the company wanted to increase its sales, it did so by combining India traditions and values within their products (this was the trick they had learned in Canada and other ventures before India). They released products such as Colgate Vedshakti to evoke Indian sentiments as Ayurveda is an imperative ingredient within the Indian culture. Also, with the increasing demand for natural ingredients to be involved within brand products Colgate launched a series of natural toothpaste in India and other 94 markets.
Not only this but the company diversified their approach to making toothbrushes, tooth powder and mouthwashes. In 2014, Colgate released ‘Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal’ which was India’s first toothbrush that had super slim bristles infused with charcoal. No other competition brands had released a charcoal-infused product until then and since charcoal-like Ayurveda plays a really important role within Indian tradition, the line became a successful sale for the company.
2. Marketing: Colgate was clever to involve oral problems within its marketing strategies. The basis of all campaigns was to tackle some common oral problem that the citizens within a particular demographic faced. Keeping this in mind, Colgate released its evolutionary trend of ‘kya apke toothpaste mei namak h?’ (does your toothpaste have salt in it?)- this tagline single-handedly revolutionized the game for all oral and dental brand companies as with this tagline Colgate released ‘Colgate active salt’ and ‘Colgate active salt neem’. Since salt tackled tooth decay, gum bleeding, strengthened the enamel of teeth and reduced swelling and inflammation in gums — this product was a huge success within India as many citizens were constantly facing these oral problems. Alongside this, several articles and research documents were released that supported the marketing tagline of this company’s product which further instilled trust and loyalty within Indian consumers for this brand.
The ‘neem’ variant was a success too as neem was a product that kept gums healthy and prevented oral diseases like Pyorrhea. No brand had a marketing campaign as strong as Colgate that was backed up by researchers and dentists at the time. To top this, no brand had combined neem and salt together- this rarity was one of the biggest successful sales that Colgate has bagged till now. Following this trend, Colgate further released several other variants such as Colgate Herbal toothpaste, Colgate active salt and lemon, etc.
3. Advertisement campaigns and associations: In India, Colgate specifically targeted the toothache problem as it is pretty common here, and advertised their product as the solution. Their strategy included engaging the customer through heart-warming stories. In 2019, Colgate launched “smile karo shuru ho jao” in which they launched a series of advertisements celebrating real heroes of optimism.
They signed endorsement deals with Bollywood stars such as Ranveer Singh for Colgate MaxFresh which is targeted especially at the youth. Ranveer at the time was at the peak of its career (and was also considered a youth icon) and as soon as Colgate associated its brand with his name, the sales peaked through the roof for this company. The company was clever to shoot the advertisement by associating Ranveer’s energy with the fresh energy of the toothpaste that the brand was promoting. Since then, the company has associated itself with some of the most prestigious Bollywood actresses and actors such as Kareen Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit. Shah Rukh Khan, etc.
Asides from these associations, the company has been able to generate an authentic front by being involved in social causes such as partnering with the NGO, ‘Seva Mandir’ in 2013 for educational reforms of marginalized children and ‘Keep India Smiling’ Foundational Scholarship in partnership with ShikshaDaan Foundation among many other. Further, social initiatives are a part of Colgate’s global agenda which it pursued within India by partnering with various NGOs in multiple cities. Colegate announced the “Save Water” campaign in India where it announced that the company’s one-month sales will be given away to their NGO partner- ‘ Water For People — India Trust’ in hopes of making water accessible to citizens within the Birbhum district of West Bengal in 2019.
4. Heavy culture inculcation: When Colgate released its neem toothpaste, it noticed a spike within this variant sale which the company later utilised to release three different flavours under the neem toothpaste category. The company did this to suit the taste preferences of its Indian consumers. Alongside this, mouth-washing that was to a prominent behaviour within the Indian market was not imposed on the consumer base. Instead, Colgate generated campaigns were these mouthwashes were advertised in Bollywood and later, well- researched claims and dentists were made to support these habits in their clinics and even on online platforms.
Transcreating advertisements by using Indian actors and taglines was the biggest culture move that the company used to promote its brand.
5. Online growth: social media Localisation: Colgate also focused on its online growth. Their main website was localized according to countries where if one selects their country, a website for the said country would open up. They also have an online presence on social media such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin where they have separate social media accounts for each country such as an Instagram account for India is called ‘Colgatein’. Colgate utilised these platforms to build a dental care support team within India, promoted its products by connecting with online social media influencers.
To diversify its consumer base, Colgate launched ‘Colgate Magik’ that encourages children to brush their teeth by making this routine a fun gaming experience for them.
Overall, Colgate has managed to remain India’s most trusted oral company for eight years by understanding it’s consumer needs and involving them within its product. A company that remains updated with evolving technology and considers the feedback of its customers can be as successful as Colgate is in India today.
By Pooja Srivastav
for similar articles visit — locnapps.com/blogs