Reckitt Benckiser – Cross-branding

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is the, often over-looked, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) producer that is responsible for brands such as Cilit Bang, Airwick and even Durex(!).  Their latest product-line decision coincides with spring: they are promoting their individual cleaning brands in one promotional campaign focused around the traditional ‘spring cleaning’ that is supposed to take place in British households.  RB hopes that consumers will purchase a wide variety of cleaning products at this time of year, and thus wants to encourage them to choose only their products.  This called cross-branding, and is just one approach a firm can apply to undertake when they operate a wider, long-term multi-brand strategy.

The theory behind a cross-branding strategy is that stronger brand equity can be created by aligning, or optimising, a firm’s diverse product-line around common beliefs and values.  This requires individual product attributes to all occupy similar positions in the consumers’ minds to be effective.  For RB, this means that all their cleaning products must emphasise efficiency, strength and effectiveness – all characteristics associated with the optimism of a ‘spring clean’.  The ultimate gain, however, extends beyond product brand equity: cross-branding generates greater brand loyalty, but across a range of brands.

RB operates in a highly competitive market where consumers often display habitual buying behaviour – when consumers repeatedly purchase familiar brands.  Hence, branding is particularly important for RB to gain loyalty (repeat purchasing does not mean consumers are loyal to a brand and thus competitive advantages over Unilever and Proctor and Gamble.  These competing FMCG giants are realising the importance of building corporate brands.  The former has always had the most significant corporate profile due to the strength of their individual brands, like Marmite, and highly successful marketing campaigns, such as Dove’s ‘real women’.  And I have previously mentioned how the latter has recently transitioned away from multi-branding towards corporate branding.

Unilever and Proctor and Gambles’ approaches differ from RB: they aim to generate brand loyalty across multiple brands by emphasising their own brand equity, as the producers.  Where as RB are trying to generate the same loyalty, under similar pressure, but through cross-branding.  This feels almost as a lost opportunity to promote their corporate brand.  I believe their advertisement should at the very least feature the company’s name or logo at the end.  This would be far more effective at generating multi-brand loyalty: consumers find it easier to remember one company as opposed to several brands.

Hence, by promoting RB as a brand, consumers would look out for products manufactured by RB and not their competitiors. Without promoting their corporate identity consumers behaviour will be similar to: seeing the ad, intending to purchase RB cleaning products and forgetting which brands inspired them to seek more variety.  This would simply lead to the total market sales for cleaning products to rise, not necessarily RB’s market share.  Overall, however, I really like the idea of cross-branding – it just seems as if RB missed a chance to kill two birds with one stone and improve their company image.


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