Lever FabergÃ© is to axe its “dark wash” detergent Persil Black Velvet in June as the brand is failing to hit sales targets.
The withdrawal could surprise many in the industry at a time when Lever FabergÃ© and rival Procter & Gamble are battling for a point of difference in the fiercely contested detergents category.
An industry source says that Black Velvet, the only branded liquid detergent to prevent colour fading in dark clothes, is not performing as well as Lever FabergÃ© had expected, despite the lack of any direct big-brand competition.
“It is a surprise as sales for Black Velvet appear to be fairly stable. Own-brand versions have done quite well against Lever FabergÃ©’s line but it is pretty much on its own in the market,” says the insider.
The range is still available in Europe under the Coral Black Velvet brand name.Black Velvet has not benefited from any specific major advertising since it was launched at the end of 2001 with a budget of £2.5m (MW July 12, 2001).
The product targeted young, up-market consumers, and marked the first time that Lever FabergÃ© has targeted the gay and lesbian community, with ads appearing in the launch issue of Queercompany’s Fable.
Unilever admitted that sales had been slower than expected in the first three months of the year, but stuck to its full-year targets.