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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Candlex Malawi Limited is a local company in Malawi. Established in xxx, the company produces ..... one of its notable products is U-fresh, a laundry soap.

This paper reviews Candlex Malawi Limited's marketing strategy for U-fresh soap. Specifically, the paper looks at the objective, target segment before evaluating the market strategy and making some recommendations.

Background To U-fresh

To better understand the product under review, U-fresh will be analysed using a market mix concept. Marketing mix is a set of decisions about price, channels of distribution, product, communications, and customer relationship management that implements the marketing strategy (Winer, R., & Dhar, R., 2011). Many authors (Winer, R., & Dhar, R. (2011), Loudon D, et al, (2002), Kotler, P., 2002) recognize four components of a marketing mix namely product, price, promotion, and place, commonly referred to as the 4 Ps of marketing mix.

Product refers to the characteristics of a good or service that is being provided to the target market. The good or service must meet the needs of the target market. Price looks at how the buyer is being asked to pay for the good or service being offered. Determination of the price should consider the value that the buyer attaches to the good or service, and his/her financial status. Promotion is about how information about the product is being passed to the potential and existing buyers to influence them to buy the product. Finally, place addresses the issue of distribution of the product so that the target market can easily and conveniently access it (Winer, R., & Dhar, R. (2011), Kotler, P., 2002).

In line with the foregoing, U-fresh is a laundry soap tablet that comes in green colour. It is packaged in small cartons of 36 tablets for sale at wholesale. The wholesaling of the U-fresh in small quantities provides an opportunity for even small scale retailers to stock the product. The tablets are not wrapped at all. Retailers sell U-fresh per tablet. The soap produces a lot of foam, is effective in washing clothes and dishes, but leaves a mild unpleasant smell. The product characteristics above have made U-fresh a preferred brand of laundry soap for many households in Malawi, a country with half of its population living below the poverty line (http://www.indexmundi.com/malawi/economy_profile.html). Because of its simplicity in packaging, U-fresh is relatively cheaper than its competing brands. Furthermore, the fact that it comes in small quantities makes it a little more affordable to many.

Regarding place, U-fresh is mainly distributed through local retail shops. These are shops that are found in rural communities and are easily accessible, unlike in big retail shops in cities and towns where the target market is not found significantly. It is mainly advertised through radios and TVs that typically targets the rural masses. It is promoted with the slogan 'Laundry Made Simple.' The adverts are mostly in a local language, which is commonly used by the target market. TV adverts show local celebrities who are respected by the rural masses using the brand. This makes the brand more acceptable by the masses that look up to and respects the celebrities. Furthermore, in a country where the majority of households, especially in the target market of U-fresh, do not have tap water in their homes and rely on communal water points, promotional ads show happy women washing clothes at a communal water point. This is something that many households are associated with.

According to Kotler, P. (2002), the 4 Ps of market mix, namely product, price, place, and promotion correspond to the 4 Cs of the customer; customer solution, customer cost, convenience, and communication, respectively. True to this, U-fresh provides a solution to the laundry needs of its target market and the cost is low enough for the target market to afford. Furthermore, the product is conveniently placed in strategic places that are highly patronized by the target market. The use of local language and on media channels patronized by rural masses makes it easier and effective to meet the target market with the necessary information to influence them buy the product.

Though data is hardly available, observation shows that U-fresh has larger market equity than any other laundry tablet soap. To acquire this large market equity, U-fresh withstood stiff competition on the market. Two notable brands posed strong competition; Maluwa Soap and Azam Green Soap. A produt of Unilever Malawi, Maluwa Soap has been on the market in a pink colour since before the introduction of U-fresh soap. Upon the introduction of U-fresh Maluwa Soap lost its market share. In response, Unilever Malawi changed the colour of Maluwa Soap from pink to green, to resemble U-fresh. This did not help things as Maluwa Soap was eventually withdrawn from the market. Similarly, Azam Green Soap came on the market with attributes similar to that of U-fresh. Much as Azam Green Soap is still on the market, it has not been able to dislodge U-fresh.

U-fresh has been very aggressive in its adverts to outcompete other brands. For instance, it flew an emotional ad depicting wild animals in a park. One animal decided to dye its feathers to look alike to another animal. However, when it rained the dye was washed off and the true colour of the animal feathers appeared. This was a direct attack to Maluwa Soap which had changed colour to look like U-fresh. Rational adverts were used as well. One advert on TV showed two women washing clothes. In a few minutes time, a woman with using U-fresh had finished with her laundry, while the other woman using a copyright green soap got frustrated after hours of laundry but her clothes were not clean enough. The advert ended with the caption that said not all green soap tablets are as effective as U-fresh. This was a direct attack to Azam Green Soap.

U-fresh has been on the market for a long time, and it is now in its maturity stage. The soap has withstood competition. Its distribution has expanded and the market seem to be saturated now

In order to sustain or improve the market performance of U-fresh, it is important that Candlex Malawi Limited look into the following;

1. Improve the fragrance of U-fresh: There is a need to add a pleasant fragrance to the soap so that it can be accepted by many. In its current state, U-fresh leaves a mild unpleasant scent that does not go well with some segments of the market.

2. Package U-fresh in an attractive wrapper: Without any proper packaging, U-fresh looks of low value and less attractive. Proper packaging would make the soap more attractive and acceptable to many more so in these days of stiff competition on the market.

3. Adjust the price of U-fresh upwards to reflect a high quality: With the proposed improvements mentioned in points 1 and 2 above, the price of U-fresh needs to be adjusted upward. This will communicate a high value of U-fresh to its customers

4. Expand the target market segment for U-fresh ads: Instead of focusing on the low income populace in its ads (through depicting rural retails shops, women in a poor setting), U-fresh shouls also include medium to high income level households to reflect that they can also use the soap.

5. Diversify the distribution channel: So far the distribution channel of U-fresh is limited to small to medium retail shops, and is not found in big supermarkets. It is high time U-fresh was found in big stores. This will help increase

References

1. Kotler, P. (2002). Marketing Management (Millennium ed.). Boston Pearson Custom Publishing

2. Loudon, D, et al. (2002) Marketing Management, Text and Cases. Binghamton: Best Business Books

3. Malawi Economy Profile 2017, http://www.indexmundi.com/malawi/economy_profile.html [Accessed 22 November, 2017]

4. Winer, R., & Dhar, R. (2011). Marketing Management (4th ed.). Boston: Prentice Hall.

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