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Superbrands case studies: Andrex

Originally published in 'Consumer Superbrands Volume V', March 2003. The book reviews the UK's strongest consumer brands as judged by an independent Judging Panel.

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Market

Glamorous it may not be but, as an essential household purchase, toilet tissue is one of the UK's largest grocery product categories -- and it is a sector that is increasingly diverse and competitive. Consumers spend some £815 million on toilet tissue annually (Source: Kimberly-Clark). UK toilet tissue is generally recognised as the softest in Europe and, as such, it is often used for secondary functions such as make-up removal and nose blowing. All products in the category have improved, becoming softer, more absorbent and offering better wet strength. Due to such improvements, toilet tissue has become less restricted to the main purpose for which it is bought. The result has been heightened competition in both the toilet tissue and facial tissue markets, in addition to an increased number of players in these sectors.

Achievements

Andrex has been the leader in the toilet tissue market for over 40 years and has consequently become a household name -- driven by high profile advertising.

2002 marked 30 years of the Andrex puppy winning the hearts of the nation. Famous as the star of the UK's longest running consistent television advertising campaign, the puppy has now stolen the show in well over 100 commercials.

Despite its longevity, Andrex is still recording significant growth. Between 2001 and 2002 independent sources attributed a 16.6% increase in value to Andrex, ranking it the UK's fifteenth fastest growing brand (Source: ACNielsen 2002).

Andrex achieved the number six position in Marketing magazine's 'Biggest Brands' listing in August 2002 -- based on ACNielsen's annual Top 50 ranking of UK brands. Andrex was placed ahead of such brands as Ariel, Pampers and Robinsons with sales in excess of £240 million, a figure that was beaten only by Coca-Cola, Walkers Snack Foods, Muller, Nescafe and Stella Artois. Having been listed behind Persil in 2001, Andrex emerged from the latest ranking as the UK's biggest non-food brand (Source: ACNielsen 2002).

Product development and innovation is a consistent focus for the brand. In 1992, Andrex successfully launched a moist toilet tissue variant which contributed to a 45% growth in the moist category during its launch year. Andrex Moist toilet tissue has been brand leader since 1993 and enjoys a 61% value share within the moist category (Source: ACNielsen August 2002).

Most recently, in 2001, Andrex launched an Aloe Vera variant of the brand invigorating a totally new category in the paper products market. The same year, through relaunching the core brand with product improvements, fewer sheets per roll and a lower pack price, Andrex achieved significant increases in sales and overall volume share -- which was up to 25.8% in June 2002 from 21.8% the previous year (Source: ACNielsen August 2002).

History

Andrex was developed from a design for gentlemen's disposable handkerchiefs that were sold exclusively in Harrods, London's famous department store. The tissue took its name however from St Andrews Mill in Walthamstow, where it was first produced in 1942. Before soft toilet tissue such as Andrex was introduced, the market consisted of much harsher products often known as shinies, which were sold mainly through chemists -- famous brands included Bronco and Izal.

Andrex was endorsed by Hollywood film stars of the day who demanded that studios stock softer toilet tissue rather than the ubiquitous shinies. By 1961 the brand achieved market leadership; a position it has retained ever since.

The Andrex toilet tissue range has been greatly extended in recent years. It can be purchased in a range of colours and pack sizes which have been continuously developed since 1957 when Andrex launched its first colour variant; Magnolia. In 1966 a full range of coloured variants were introduced.

The famous Andrex puppy commercials were first screened in 1972. The original concept included a little girl running through her house trailing a roll of Andrex. However, this was blocked by television regulators who believed it would encourage children to be wasteful. So the little girl was replaced by a playful Labrador puppy and the campaign went on to become one of the best-known commercials throughout the country.

In 1978 the manufacturer of Andrex was awarded Royal Warrants of Appointment. By 1991 over 81% of Andrex sales were generated through multiple grocery outlets. A growing concern at this point was the increase in green products made from recycled paper, which then accounted for 20% of the market. Andrex responded by informing consumers through its advertising that it was an environmentally aware brand and took part in a programme of planting new trees. In addition Andrex mass production facilities converted to non-chlorine gas bleached pulps.

Product

Kimberly-Clark Ltd, the manufacturer of Andrex toilet tissue, is committed to maintaining its number one position in the marketplace. Development is continuously underway to improve product quality -- a priority due to the rising competition from retailers' own brand and other named brands. A number of relaunches have strengthened Andrex considerably. The 1996 New Feel relaunch reintroduced 1.5 million consumers to the product, resulting in a 7% rise in value (Source: ACNielsen 1996). The Softest Ever relaunch in January 1999 achieved a further 7% growth within the year (Source: ACNielsen 1999). In addition, the 2001 product enhancements and simultaneous change in price drove a 4% increase of the brand's volume share (Source: ACNielsen 2002).

Andrex has maintained its reputation as one of the highest quality products on the market. There are six colours in the range and three standard pack sizes -- two roll, four roll and nine roll.

The newest extensions to the Andrex brand share the key attributes of softness and strength that have made the parent brand so successful. Andrex Moist toilet tissues, with natural aloe, are lightly moistened to cleanse and refresh, and are available in both tub and refill formats. Andrex Aloe Vera, available in four and nine-roll packs, has soft ripples that are enriched with both aloe and vitamin E for an extra level of care.

Recent developments

In 1999, after over 25 years of successful puppy advertising, it was felt that a new approach was needed in order to re-establish the well-known brand icon. That year, Andrex offered consumers the chance to apply for an exclusive Andrex Bean Puppy. More than one million buyers responded to the offer, helping to raise over £110,000 for the National Canine Defence League. It also reaffirmed the popularity of the puppy amongst customers. The promotion was awarded the Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP) Grand Prix Award for the most successful promotion of 1999 and helped reassert the position of Andrex as the UKs favourite toilet tissue brand. When, in 2001, the promotion was offered to customers again, Andrex still received over half a million applications for Bean Puppies.

The Andrex puppy has also now found a kennel on the internet. Consumers can meet the puppy and play online games and collect tokens for merchandise at the award winning www.Andrexpuppy.co.uk. The site has the younger visitor in mind and in addition to the other activities available, gives visitors the opportunity to email comments about their puppies in the bark back section of the site.

In 2001 Andrex was relaunched with new look packaging which replaced the Andrex logo with one of three phrases, inviting customers to Hold me, Feel Me and Touch Me in order to experience product improvements first hand.

Promotion

The Andrex puppy has become inextricably linked with the brand itself, symbolising the qualities of softness and strength that are at the core of the Andrex brand. The puppy has featured in nearly 120 commercials to date, generally appearing in the family home but also with various other animals including an elephant and a giraffe.

It was not until 1991 that the product was actually shown in the bathroom. The Little Boy execution was one of the most successful in the history of Andrex advertising and was voted the favourite commercial of 1991 by the public. It is still recalled by consumers, despite the fact it has not been televised for over ten years.

As a brand icon, the puppy is also used in a variety of other marketing and promotional devices. This has included calendars as well as a joint activity with Disneys 101 Dalmatians, and several soft toy promotions. In 1999 the Andrex Puppy Appeal raised £110,000 for the National Canine Defence League which helped them care for over 11,000 dogs.

To celebrate the 25th year of puppy advertising, Andrex sponsored an appeal for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, raising £270,000 for the charity. Andrex continues to work with the National Canine Defence League and a new fundraising partnership with the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind was announced in 2002.

Significant investment was made in sales promotion activity focusing on the puppy to support the 30th Anniversary celebrations in 2002. A national, on-pack 'Finders Keepers' promotion rewarded customers with the opportunity to win one of 30,000 special prizes 'buried' by the puppy.

Brand values

Despite an unglamorous product category, Andrex has achieved a remarkable position as the UK's number one non-food brand, its sixth largest grocery brand and the market leader for over 40 years. Moreover, the brand is still growing. Andrex has always developed high quality products that aim to provide the best value for families due to its key attributes: softness, strength and length. The renowned puppy advertising has been running successfully for over 30 years and ensures the brand is instantly recognisable.

Things you didn't know

  • 2002 marked 60 years of the brand and 30 years of the Andrex puppy, which first made its debut on our TV screens in 1972, in an advertisement entitled 'Puppy'.

  • The name Andrex comes from the St Andrew's Mill in Walthamstow, London where it was first produced in 1942 (rolled toilet tissue was invented in 1879).

  • In an NFO WorldGroup survey commissioned by Superbrands, the Andrex puppy was found to be the most preferred guest to attend a wedding.

  • The first press advertising for Andrex appeared in the early 1960s and featured the James Bond star George Lazenby holding a baby.

  • Around 1.5 million rolls of Andrex toilet tissue are sold in the UK each day -- enough tissue to encircle the world one and a half times.

  • The Andrex commercial Little Boy was the first of its kind to show the product in situ. It has also been the most successful puppy commercial in the history of Andrex advertising.

  • One third of Andrex purchasers never buy any other toilet tissue.

    © 2003 Superbrands Ltd

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