Black and sexy with Coral
Lilleborg really did its homework prior to the launch of Coral Black Velvet on 1 May. "Coral is a classic branded product case," says Marketing Director Arve Heltne. "The children's series Digimon is a different story. In this case we broke most of the rules."
It is not every day that Lilleborg launches a new laundry brand. In fact it hasn't done so for eighteen years. It wasn't a sudden impulse, either. Several years of systematic work lie behind this launch, and the process began where it should begin - with the consumer.
The customer who buys Coral Black Velvet doesn't have grass stains on her knees. Her active social life usually revolves around the city. She is between 20 and 35 years old, follows fashion trends and has a wardrobe full of modern textiles. Black makes her feel attractive, but only intense black is intensely attractive.
"Consumer surveys have shown that the fine laundry market is growing," says Marketing Director Arve Heltne at Lilleborg.
The trend is towards new textiles that need careful handling. Eighty per cent of all textiles are dyed, and black is a popular fashion colour. Customers are washing clothes at increasingly low temperatures, and they want alternatives to hand washing.
"Through our comprehensive surveys, we know what is actually put in the washing machine, which clothes are not washed in the machine and the extent to which consumers are interested in a new product," says Mr Heltne.
Efficient and gentle
The analyses showed that there was a market for a detergent that washes efficiently but at the same time retains the intense black colour of black textiles.
"We carried out a systematic review of our existing brands to find out if any of them could meet both these requirements," relates Mr Heltne.
The process began two years ago and they concluded that none of the OMO, Blenda, Milo or Smili brands could fill this gap without losing credibility and market force.
"It would confuse the consumer if we launched a Milo with enzymes to make it more efficient. At the same time, we were afraid of reducing OMO's efficiency if we launched a more gentle version," summarises Mr Heltne.
Along the "gentleness" and "efficiency" axes, there was therefore room for an entirely new brand.
"We have used the positioning tools developed by Orkla, which have been collated in the guidelines for Brand Focus and Brand Stamp," says Mr Heltne.
"So in fact you can say that you have followed the "textbook" to the last detail?"
"Yes," he replies, "in the final instance, brand building is only a matter of common sense, but here it has been systematised. The advantage of following the textbook is that it forces you to ask all the questions along the way. It gives the process an internal logic."
This doesn't mean that he is always equally 'law-abiding'. On 1 May, Lilleborg also launched toothpaste, soap and shampoo under the brand name Digimon (see also p. 16).
"That was our big exception. While we spent two years preparing for the launch of Coral, we spent only two months on Digimon. We know that these products will have a short life and our purpose was primarily to learn more about children," he says.
If anyone in Norway finds the brand name Coral vaguely familiar, they are right. Coral left the Norwegian market in 1989 after 25 years.
Since then, Unilever has established Coral Black Velvet as a major brand name in Europe, with Lilleborg as its manufacturer. All production takes place at Ski and the product has made a strong contribution to Lilleborg's export growth. This spring, Coral Black Velvet was also launched in Sweden and Finland.
The advertising that is now unrolling on the Norwegian market therefore comes from abroad. "Our task was to consider what was most suitable for Norwegian consumers and then translate and adapt the copy," says Mr Heltne.
At a later date, Coral will also turn up in contexts that until now have hardly been associated with laundry detergents. Perhaps as samples in the clothing chains, perhaps in connection with young fashion designers. And it is fairly certain to turn up in cooperation with the underwear manufacturer Triumph.
"At Orkla, we have a complete model for understanding consumer needs and motivation. We have a method for finding out exactly which position a product fills and a format for communicating this to our employees, agencies and customers. These tools were developed by us, for us. We are fairly advanced in this area," says Robert Sjøborg, Director of the Orkla Brand School.
"Today the tools and the understanding are in place, but we still have some way to go to achieve good, consistent advertising," says Mr Sjøborg.
Director Helge Bøkenes established the school nine years ago and tells of its beginnings: "At that time we gathered together different companies, different cultures and very different levels of expertise. We have now managed to combine a variety of experience from within the group and formulate principles from which we can all benefit.
It's stupid to re-invent the wheel every time, even if many people might wish to," says Mr Bøkenes.