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Analysis of Asprol


1.      Did Nicholas Kiwi need to develop a new product?  Why?

It was essential for Nicholas Kiwi to develop a new product for the reasons in coming sections.

Firstly, over-the-counter analgesics were a strong and growing market in 1988.  It offered opportunities to gain market share and generate high return on investment if proper strategies were used.  On the other hand, competition was dynamic due to new technology and changing consumer preferences.  Panadol was the market leader in the industry.  Nicholas Kiwi had to react to sustain or extend its competitive advantage in order to survive.  

Secondly, the evolution of marketing orientation that customer satisfaction was critical to organizational success.  Consumer needs and wants had been changed for convenient, effective and reliable products.  Aspirin powdered products were viewed as old fashioned and inconvenient especially it linked to addictive drug behavior.

Lastly, consumer behavior was motivated by safety needs of PSSP model in the pharmaceutical industry.  Proven evidences showing the side effects of aspirin had really concerned consumers.  But paracetamol was generally viewed as safe, effective and gentle to the stomach.  This resulted a strong trend of using paracetamol-based products while aspirin-based products were under threat and losing market share.  Nicholas Kiwi could not afford to limit in current products if they wanted to remain competitive and profitable.

2.      What aspects of the marketing of the Asprol product range were sensible?

Asprol range was sensible in offering paracetamol-based product to meet the consumer needs and wants.  The product was positioned in its benefit of .solubility and fast acting・ as competitive advantage over the market leader.  The product was sold through both chemists and the grocery trade to fit the market trend to purchase pharmaceutical product at convenient location.

The standard test marketing was in a good sense during product development.  The result of product performance could be used to forecast national sales and profits, to discover potential product problems, and to fine-tune the marketing program before commercialization.

It was also sensible to use both push and pull elements into an integrated promotion program to reach their retailers and consumers.  By means of push strategy, they used trade presentations and shelf unit-display to build a channel to push the product down to the consumers.  By means of pull strategy, they used television commercial, sampling and direct mail to build up consumer demand and motivation to seek for their product.  This aggressive strategy could help to differentiate their product, build market share and maintain consumer loyalty.

3.      Why did the Asprol range fail?

The use of blanket family name, .Asprol・ from .Aspro・, had confused consumers and was perceived as an extension of Aspro with aspirin ingredient.  Although the product was packaged in a similar fashion to Aspro and same colors as Panadol, consumers would have no reason to buy at premium price when they could get the specialty product from Panadol with lower prices. 

Offering a range of products for different segments was risky without considering consumer decision-making pattern.  Unlike Family Clear for adults that required routine response behavior, other ranges for infants and children were influenced by family decision-making before reaching the end-users.

The promotion activities especially the television commercial could not differentiate the product meaning failure to achieve persuasive communication to influence consumer attitudes and behavior.  Early withdrawal of the original television commercial was a big mistake making the product unsupported and lost of faith.  Doctors also refused to use the product because lack of intensive information about the new product and brand insistence to Panadol.

To conclude, poor management of new product development led to the failure.  It was either lack of extensive research on consumer needs and wants during idea generation/screening stage or no concept development and testing before product development. 

4.      What could have been done to avoid this failure?

The critical success factor is to provide right product in the right price, at the right time and the right place.  Consumer needs and wants should be the focus of all business and marketing activities/strategies.

Product   Branding is an identity of familiarity and product quality level.  Separate family name is suggested for different quality lines within the same product class.  An innovative packaging is important for product differentiation over competitors.  Targeting one segment like adult at introductory stage to minimize risk and only move on the other segments once this proved successful. 

Place               Distribution should be treated as a convenience or shopping product to reach consumers. 

Promotion     Promotion priority should be on professional to gain their support.  Their expertise and trustworthiness may help in delivering persuasive message through advertisement or word-of-mouth.  Direct competitive or comparative advertising using AIDA model plus credible reports from professional bodies is good for differentiation.  Position the product in a clear and distinctive manner in related to .a separate line in paracetamol ingredient but soluble and fast acting within a time・.  Look at consumer adoption process and different stages of readiness to modify promotion activities. Other promotion activities like broadcast sponsorship and hotlines would also advantage.

Price                Competition-based pricing should be used.  However, discriminatory pricing such as introductory offer could be a tool to build brand-awareness. 

5.      Imagine you have taken over the product management of the Asprol range in January 1989, prior to the decision to withdraw the original commercial.  What would you recommend Nicholas Kiwi do in response to the findings of the market research?

In response to the research findings, the original television commercial should be re-arranged to include highly credible sources like famous professional to deliver the message about product attributes (a separate line in paracetamol) and functions (soluble and fast acting within a time).  Safety needs is one of the concern so credible reports from professional bodies should be included to emphasize the safety of the products for infants to adulthood.

Intensive training or seminars should be held for doctors to encourage them to use the product.  Credible reports and comparison with competitors (or market leader V Panadol) should be advertised in pharmaceutical magazines or journals to build up learning process.  The word-of-mouth from the doctors may change the consumer buying behavior and encourage positive reinforcement.

Include some other promotion activities like broadcast or hospital sponsorship to build up brand-awareness.  Provide experienced and professional sales force to station at retailers time to time to push for sales and answer questions from consumers.  Set up customer service department to answer questions from consumers relating to the product.  These services should be coordinated and used as tools in creating customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Bibliography

Kotler, Philip & Armstrong, Gary (1989), Principles of Marketing, fourth edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey

McCarthy, E. Jerome; Perreault, William D. Jr. & Quester, Pascale G. (1997), Basic Marketing: a managerial approach, 2nd Australasian edition, Irwin/McGraw-Hill, Sidney

Wilkinson, John (1999), Marketing Principles: Trading & Exchange, Subject Information and Study Guide, University of South Australia


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