Lever abandons Persil’s ‘New Generation’ label

Lever Brothers is ditching the “New Generation” tag from its concentrated Persil product. The decision comes as rival Procter & Gamble is understood to be considering dropping the Future label attached to its Ariel equivalent.

The name changes are a response to increasing consumer confusion and the proliferation of sub-brands in the past year, both factors that have hit sales. It is thought to be the first signs of a move by manufacturers to concentrate on their house brands instead of launching “new and improved” extensions faster than consumers can keep up.

“Ariel Future was a mistake from the start,” says one insider. “P&G was so obsessed with Persil Power that it rushed to bring Future into the UK. It over- reacted and is having to face the consequences. P&G should have called it Ariel Ultra 2 or New Improved Ariel Ultra, not Ariel Future.”

Procter & Gamble – which denies that it is planning to drop the Future label – is also relaunching its concentrated detergent Daz Ultra – to be called New Daz Ultra – in February. It is manufactured using the same technology as Ariel Future, but does not carry the “Future” tag. Sources suggest that P&G is also planning a new main wash brand to boost its portfolio.

At the same time, Benckiser is understood to be launching another stain remover early next year – probably an improved version of its Vanish brand. But sources suggest that the German manufacturer is also planning a new main wash detergent brand to exploit a perceived gap in the market.

Ariel Future was launched in January, and followed one month later by New Generation Persil – both in the wake of the Persil Power debacle.

When the discredited Persil Power was finally pulled from UK shelves, Persil held a 12.3 per cent value share of the total concentrated powders market (Nielsen). “New Generation” has only pushed that up to 14.6 per cent.

During the same period, the much stronger Ariel brand, which should have benefited from the failure of Power, had its share of the concentrated market eroded from 45.7 per cent, when it launched Future, to 37.3 per cent now. The winner has been own-label, which has grown from 13.3 per cent to 17.5 per cent since February.

New Generation represents the first time a washing detergent has been launched with a name that tried to be more than purely functional. But unlike cigarettes, alcohol or clothes, washing powder is not a reflection of a customer’s personality. They are only interested in whether the product works. Interbrand director of brand identity Andy Milligan says: “When a sub-brand is introduced, manufacturers focus on the specific functional performance-related benefits.”

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