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Competition remains the most daunting challenge against businesses’ success. For this reason, marketing managers have realized that there is a necessity to shift their philosophy from product selling to focusing on customer-oriented strategies (Kotler & Keller, 2009). Moreover, marketers have realized that to survive amidst fierce competition, they ought to design strategies aimed at outperforming their competitors. Consequently, marketers must come up with strategies aimed at increasing customer value and satisfaction to retain existing and attract new customers.
According to Kotler and Keller (2009), businesses gauge their success by measuring the extent of their market share within the target industry. However, firms in any given target market can never attain equal market share due to variations in terms of objectives, resources, size, experience, and so on.
For this reason, their competitive position within the target market cannot be on the same level. Kotler and Keller (2009) underscore that firms play different competitive roles within the target market whereby a firm can either be a market leader, challenger, follower, or a niche. Furthermore, they emphasize that the market leader position is occupied by one firm that has the largest market share, whereas several firms compete for the remaining slots.
The US laundry detergent market depicts different competitive roles played by individual firms within a target market. Procter and Gamble assume the role of a market leader with its diversified and numerous laundry and dishwashing detergents with an approximated market share of 60 %( Datamonitor, 2011). However, it is imperative to clarify that even though Procter and Gamble lead the target market in many segments, some of its products assume the challenger role. For instance, in the segment of soap and facial tissues the company challenges Lever and Kimberly-Clark respectively (Datamonitor, 2011). Kotler and Keller (2009) also underscore that a market leader can either protect market share or expand to sustain a leadership position. Procter and Gamble have chosen the latter option by expanding its laundry detergent line.
Unilever comes in a distant second position as the market challenger with an approximated market share of 11 % (Datamonitor, 2011). Unilever is the best-suited firm to challenge Procter and Gamble because of its sustainable advantage owing to its wide capital resources (Datamonitor, 2011). Unilever being a multinational company can afford to be a fierce market challenger. Kotler and Keller (2009) underscore that market challengers are likely to suffer because leaders do not take them lightly and might resort to harmful counterattack measures.
Concurrently, Dial Corporations is the market follower in the US laundry detergent industry. According to Kotler and Keller (2009), some firms deliberately decide to be market followers for fear of being edged out of the market in case the leader decides to engage in harmful battles. Dial specializes in well-known detergent brands such as Dial, Tone, and other laundry products (Datamonitor, 2011). As a market follower, Dial eschews heavy investment by keeping its innovations minimal. Dial precautionary strategy is clearly explained by Kotler and Keller (2009) who underscore that followers take advantage of market leader strategies and end up being profitable without much investment. For instance, Dial antibacterial soap enjoys a large market share despite the company’s low profile in active marketing and innovative strategies (Datamonitor, 2011).
Finally, Church & Dwight via its Arm & Hammer and Oxiclean brands is the niche marketer within this industry (Datamonitor, 2011). However, its products compete with some brands from the leader. According to Kotler and Keller (2009), niche marketers must also maintain a low profile to avoid attracting the leader’s attention. On the same note, Church & Dwight strives to satisfy their market niche by designing new high-quality products (Datamonitor, 2011).
In conclusion, the US laundry detergent industry is a classical example of how firms assume competitive positions in a given target market. Competition in this industry is highly monopolistic, and no firm is guaranteed the same position ceaselessly.
- Datamonitor. ( 2011). US Laundry Care Market Case Study: How leading manufacturers can enhance perceptions of value. Web.
- Kotler, P., & Keller, K. (2009). Marketing management (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.