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Colgate-Palmolive: Cleopatra Soap Failure in Canada

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Colgate-Palmolive: Cleopatra soap failure in Canada

A Case study

A brief history of Cleopatra soap

Cleopatra soap was first introduced in France in November 1984 with of 23% price premium compared to other rivals. At the end of 1985 market share of Cleopatra shot up to 15%. Success in France made them to go global. They thought, if Cleopatra has worked in France, it should do likewise elsewhere in the world. They chose Canada, especially Quebec, a French speaking state as its target.

1.Why it failed in Quebec?

The product captured only 0.9% out of expected 4.5% target market share after 1 year of launch in Quebec.The board assumed that the soap will be a success in any French speaking area, they failed to notice that market may or may not behave differently in different geographies. Market research was done in Toronto whereas product was launched in Quebec. Since the majority of the people in Quebec are off French origin, comparing their behavior with English origin people may not work ideally.

Even though the market forecasting strategy was wrong, they could have played better in the market. Due to various mistakes in the marketing mix, Cleopatra failed to capture market to the extent they expected. Below are the marketing mistakes.

2.Marketing mistakes of Cleopatra in Quebec:

During the research of the product, Coalgate brand managers did not enquirefor expectations from the customer for a premium soap.  Rather they questioned the consumers whether they would buy Cleopatra which was very objective.

2.1. Pricing of the product:

The marketing team launched the product with premium price just like they did in France. Since Canada’s Soap market ishighly competitive, pricing it higher thanits rival DOVE was not a good strategy. They could have increased the price after the product getting stabilized in the market. So majority of people who have tried the soap disliked the product because of relative high pricing. (Fig.1)

[pic 1]

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Fig 1. Pricing of Cleopatra and other brands and the negative effect of Cleopatra price in consumer’s interest

2.2 Brand Promotion:

Cleopatra’s strategy went against Canadian Soap marketing strategy which was to give heavy trade allowances and discounts to the retailers for the promotion and proper placement of the products on the shelves.  Instead, the marketing strategy was to go for media promotion through TV advertisement only.

2.2.1Effect of Ignoring retailers:

The retailers had the power to promote any brand by changing the shelf position of the product. As the strategy was to reach the customers through promotion and media, the retailers showed no interest towards the new Cleopatra. And kept the soap next to the generic cheap soap brands whereas the rival brand DOVE was given more visibility and shelf space. Fig 2.

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Fig 2. Shelf positioning of various soaps

Also, when the marketing team distributed 250,000 free soap coupons, only 21% of the people could claim it. In consumer research, 29% of 204 respondents said they could not get the product in stores.This shows that, the retailers started ignoring the product as they were not given conventional benefits like other soaps.Fig 3.

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Fig 3. Consumer research on Cleopatra soap

 2.2.2 Inappropriate promotion and incorrect product positioning:

The TV advertisement of the Cleopatra had strong Egyptian image. But the success of LUX soap came due to its strong European image. So, it is clear that Canadian people liked European image-based products better.



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