Brand Analysis: Halls vs. Ricola

A brand may be defined as the characteristics of a good or service that distinguishes it from products of other competitors. These characteristics can be product names, symbols, labels and logos, product designs or a combination of two or more of these features. Branding helps firms differentiate their products hence aids customers during purchases. It also assists in building the corporate identity.

The Halls brand is a mentholated cough drop produced by Cadbury Schweppes, which is a division of the Cadbury PLC. According to the company, it is a suppressant or oral anesthetic. It is primarily meant to dissolve slowly in the mouth to stop coughs and relieve irritating and soar tissues in the throat. For many years, it has been facing stiff competition from Ricola. However, in the recent past the cough drops market in US medicine healthcare industry has been characterized by global competition in which different firms scramble for the already diminishing market.

In response to this competition, Cadbury Schweppes had to invent new production techniques that would design competitive products that are easy to differentiate from those of its competitors. Cadbury Schweppes hit back its competitors by developing a line of products with diverse flavors, for instances, it developed the Cool Cream orange and Cool citrus blend brands. By doing this, it provided its consumers with a variety of products to choose from in accordance with their tastes and preferences.

In addition, the company observed that most consumers of its products were becoming health conscious. Consumers’ preferences were shifting towards taking drugs enriched with vitamins, especially Vitamin C. It thus responded by introducing the Halls Defense flavors that contained Vitamin C, in addition to acting as a suppressant.

Due to political waves and new political ideologies, Cadbury Schweppes had to launch non-mentholated suppressants as well, for example the Halls Fruit Breezers. This gave enabled it to conform to the legislative requirements and hence it gained an upper hand in the market as compared to its competitors who had not implemented these requirements. It equally had to produce sugar free mentholated cough drops to be conventional with the legal rule that producers of consumer goods should reduce sugar levels in their products. This course of action was taken to match with the governments fight against diabetics.

In my opinion, the company was able to employ strategic marketing process that has enabled it be the market leader. First, its attempts to be in line with changes in consumer behaviors and trends, the company came up with the sugar free mentholated drops. This is because more and more consumers were quite concerned with consumption of sugary products due to health factors. This was made possible after a careful scanning of the marketing environment. It took a detailed look into the external and internal factors that would build or destroy, increase or decrease its market share in the cough drugs industry. In contrast, Ricola had a blind marketing plan and put little consideration to these environmental factors.

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Secondly, the company devised a widespread and intensive advertising campaign to promote its products. According to Monle& Carla, this technique was developed by the firm’s executive marketing team and referred to Halls Cough drops as the “Vapor Action”.

Thirdly, as part of its marketing strategies and tactics, the company launched the internet advertising, a website from which potential customers would view the products, and even make online orders and purchases. This was viewed by many marketing gurus as the company’s ultimate response to technological advancement. It was observed that many people, especially the young generation, were intensive users of internet, and shopping was one of the major activities they transact online. Similarly, Ricola also developed its websites for its cough drops. From this observation, I can conclude both firms used internet marketing as part of their marketing strategies. Both firms had well designed and aesthetic websites with full motion graphics that were stunning and appealing to the eyes of their potential customers. however, Halls cough drops went a step further and uploaded short video clips of its product and past experiences from customers. This helped in developing customer confidence in the products.

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Fourthly, Halls applied varied technological techniques in its production processes. This enabled the company to innovate newer designs and versions of the product, for instance, the Halls Sweet Herbal Mint. Advanced production processes also helped improve the quality of the cough drops. This was in line with the government’s requirement for production of high quality goods consumable within the US markets. Ability to be in pace with technological advancements facilitated the company’s stake in the competitive market, and consequently earned it a high competitive advantage over its rival firms, especially Ricola.

Last but not least, Halls has opened new production branches in the UK. The firm aimed at exploring new global markets. In contrast, Ricola was only concentrated with the US market.

Brand Recommendations

In my attempts to improve the competitive position of Halls brand, I would do a variety of activities that would result in increased sales volumes, build and retain customer loyalty, heightened levels of customer satisfaction among others. First, I would develop a product line extension that shall ensure constant supply of varied goods. This will entail introduction of new products within the existing brand. According to Begemann, for effective brand extension, the reputation of the products must be upheld. In my point of view, provision of a variety of new products would guarantee meeting the ever changing expectations of various consumers.

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Secondly, I would widen the packaging techniques in order to bring about eye-catching outward appearance of the products. it is certain that most customers would be attracted to more appealing  and aesthetic goods than they would to ‘ugly-looking’ ones. As Kapferer puts it, packaging is carefully designed to capture the attention of the customers and can be achieved through variations in color, size, and shape among other physical features.

Thirdly, I would engage intermediaries who would help me build the new brands. This shall involve the deployment of packaging and design professionals who would bring into the business their vast knowledge in branding. Similarly, I would hire experienced consultants who would give specialized and expertise attention in developing and improving the new products. 

Last but least, a combination of the above factors would help create a “brand story”. This is a fictional knowledge created about the products to influence the customers’ views and perspectives. The products image shall be encrypted in the minds of the consumers via this band story. Finally, I can conclude that all branding efforts should be directed towards achieving the goals ad objectives of a firm, which in most cases, is profit maximization through increased sales volumes and low production costs. This can only be achieved when clear and effective marketing strategies are put in place, and brand creation is one of such major strategies.

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