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A brand is a "name, design, symbol, sign, term intended to identify and differentiate the goods and services of one seller or group to those of other sellers (American Marketing Association 61). It is the psychological and emotional relationship sellers have with their customers. A strong brand will always confirm the credibility of the seller, deliver the message undoubtedly, motivate the buyer, concrete user loyalty and also connect the seller’s target prospects emotionally.
Brand analysis describes efforts taken to establish the strength a brand has compared with its competitors. It is of great importance for a company to know its position in the market compared to its competitors. With this information, it would then come up with new branding strategies or improve its strategies in order to maintain its position in the market or outwit its competitor. This paper seeks to analyze two competing cough drop brands in the US Cough and throat remedies market (Marshall 96).
A cough drop is a candy that is medicated. It is also called a lozenge. It is manufactured to soothe throat irritation such as that caused by a cold or cough. The most popular cough drop brands in the United States including Halls, Fisherman's Friend, Vicks, Cepacol and Ricola. Our analysis will be between Halls and Ricola, focusing on Halls, the main brand, and Ricola as the competing brand; The Halls brand of cough drop dates back to the 1930s.
‘The first cough drop, Halls Mentho-Lyptus, was invented by the British company, Halls Brothers. Halls cough drops are manufactured by Cadbury-Schweppes. These cough drops were available in the US by 1950s. Ricola on the other hand is a Swiss brand of cough drop that includes herbal extracts with the menthol in their different flavors of cough drops. This brand analysis is done under different topics as discussed below’ (Marshall 73).
Product positioning and management strategy
In this section, we focus on the various modifications that have occurred to the two products. These will encapsulate the various product management strategies that have been used in the process of modifying products from these two companies (Parrish 124).
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In the 1990s, Hall’s Plus cough drop had a syrup center. This was followed by Halls cough drop variations. ‘Examples of these variations are Halls Defense Vitamin C cough drop in 1999 and a new flavor, Sugar Free Kiwi-Apple in 2006. The flavors contained Vitamin C and in addition acted as cough suppressants. There was also the launch of Halls Fruit Breezers that came in different flavors. Examples of the flavors include: Cool Creamy Strawberry, Cool Berry, and Cool Citrus Blend Tropical Chill Cool Creamy Orange. Halls also manufactures a sugar free line of mentholated cough drops’ (Parrish 134).
The active ingredient in most Ricola products is menthol and other parts made of herb mixture. This is usually a mixture of several herbs, as sixteen of them are mentioned in their websites. Ricola has several kinds of different products. These products are of different flavors. These are Cough Drops, Sugar Free, Cough Drops, Throat Drops, Sugar Free Throat Drops, and Nature’s Protection that contains daily value of Vitamin C, Ricola Refreshers, Ricola Breath Mints, Good Night Tea and Ricola Swiss Herb Candy (Parrish 142).
Both Halls and Ricola use various branding strategies and brand elements to position their brands in the market. Halls for example uses the multiproduct branding concept for its products. This involves using one name for all its products in a product class as shown above. Ricola has also adopted this strategy for most of its products. There has also been subsequent adoption of the fighting brand strategies among the two companies. They have on several occasions set low prices to take on, and ideally take out, the other. Halls has a competitive advantage in that its products is of more variety and of most flavors compared to Ricola’s products (Parrish 155).
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Both the companies are known to use the same mechanisms of promotions. This could either be through the mass media and website online marketing. They have same channels; the difference would be the aggressiveness and the manner of delivery of the message. Halls for instance, identifies its product as a "cough suppressant or oral anesthetic." In some parts of the world it is marketed as a mentholated hard candy. It is rather not identified as a medicine for coughs. This disassociates it from the competitor that seems to be a brand full of stingy herbs (Baum 103).
This also explains why Halls has also stopped the mentioning of the cough active ingredient from the packaging. The content is instead described lately as "extra strong original flavor hard boiled sweets." In addition to this Halls has been portrayed to suppress coughs and soothe sore throats in few second using the Halls’ Advanced Vapor Action.
Ricola on the other hand, was the first to advertise its products on television. This was in the 1980s. It was an era that sported a growing consciousness on the need for good dental hygiene. This increased the market demand for sugar-free products like the Ricola produced. In 1988 it shifted its packaging to small boxes. It has press releases, photo gallery in its website to capture the market. This captures the concept of website online marketing. Its active ingredient is menthol and, it bases its ads on the healing effects of its herbs (American Pharmaceutical Association 37).
Halls and Ricola are two competing brands of cough drops in the USA market. These two brands of cough drops are distributed into the market in the same way. The distribution of the two brands mainly uses the method of intermediaries and international partnerships to reach the customers in the various locations. These two brands are mainly after the same clientele in the same market thus utilization of any different methods of reaching the customers would see either of the company loosing part of its market share to the other. The producer companies of the two brands have also seen the diversification of commodities produced by both firm (William 174).
The two brands mainly employ methods such as traditional marketing, independent sales, grey channels such as petrol stations and tobacconists, convenience shops, cash & carry vendors, discounters, pharmacies, electronics stores and the mail order business. This is because these methods are convenient in reaching the customers to the brands without involving the company as much (Shaw &Welch 88).
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This is essential in ensuring that the company increases the profit margin by cutting costs and increasing sales. The use of new trends such as online marketing has also been utilized by both brands with each having accounts with online marketing companies such as Amazon. The producer company to Ricola has some major partnership with the company Valora of Australia which promotes the sale of Ricola brands in the Australian market. This has led to higher profits for the Ricola Company. Ricola has also partnered with other companies in the world to ensure the brand gets international recognition (Shaw &Welch 93).
Both brands have wide market recognition in the market. However, halls current strategies of international partnership tend to popularize the brand more than Ricola in the world markets. Halls brand is the most favorite in the American market hence it commands a bigger share of the market compared to Ricola's share pricing (American Pharmaceutical Association 60).
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The cough suppressant Ricola and Halls utilize the method of demand and supply interplay to price their products in the market. This is however, faced by a wide range of constraints such as marginal pricing by Halls manufacturers thus pushing out competitors such as resole out of the market. This price mechanism has its benefits and shortcomings. This method of pricing ensures continued profitability of both companies. The main objective with this pricing strategy is that it is limiting to new entrants into the cough drops industry. This strategy also has its negative implication on customers since prices set at time could be exploitative to the customer yet the prices cannot be lowered by the interplay of demand and supply in the market. The constraints experienced in the pricing strategy are respective government regulations on the prices of essential commodities in which cough drops belong. (Parrish 180).
The brand Halls faces various challenges in the effective maintenance of the profit margin and the market share while putting in consideration the various market forces such as competition and government policies. There are various recommendations to Halls brand of which if implemented can enable Halls brand to overcome the various challenges in the market (Shaw &Welch 106).
In the distribution of the commodities from the Halls brand the company should embrace more efficient methods to reduce distribution costs hence promote the lowering of the prices to Hall brand commodities. The Hall brand should also develop superior visual adverts for their products to create an appealing appearance to the consumers who at times may purchase commodities under the influence of attractive adverts. This could be a method to overcome the competition in the cough syrup market. The brand Halls should also look into diversifying the tastes of the commodities they sell in the various markets in the various markets in the globe (American Pharmaceutical Association 79).
This will help create an additional attractive feature to the cough drops especially to the young consumers who will avoid some drugs due to their bitter tastes. The implementation of this recommendation will help increase the market share of Halls products. This will not only increase profits to the firm but will also help maintain the position of Halls as the favorite cough drops company and brand in the American market.
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The continued top ranking of halls brand as the best brand will help create loyalty among the existing consumers as well as transform other consumers into individuals loyal to the brand. This will help improve the market share of the Hall brand. In marketing, the brand Halls should apply more of the social media to enable easy and cheap sale of commodities in the market. This will enhance the advertising strategies hence reaching to more people with little ease and at cheaper costs.
The use of social media cites will also enable rapid advertisement of new products in the market. This will give Halls brand a competing edge on the other companies. The Halls Company should also go into more partnerships with other international companies in areas where halls products have not gained popularity. This will enable an increased market share in some economies such as those of developing nations (Parrish 196).
The Halls brand should also put in place measure to ensure the brands commodities are packaged in environmental friendly packs to ensure that the brand keeps up with the views of the very sensitive society which is advocating for the purchase of commodities belonging to brands that embrace environmental protection. The brand Halls should also take extreme precautions to ensure that no production mishaps erode the good image of the brand. This is vital since the mistakes of the brand halls would be opportunity to the competitor (Shaw &Welch 150).
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Brands like resole would enjoy the extra market share in the market. The company that works close to the brand Halls should also participate in more welfare activities to help indentify itself with the clientele base. This will help boost consumer confidence concerning the brand hence increase the sales volume off the commodities from the Halls brand.
The brand Halls should also ensure that there is effective communication between consumers and the company to help demystify various theories as well as answer any query concerning the various products from halls.