Colgate is a major American-based conglomerate that holds the dominant position in the international market of dental health products. As it stands, the company holds 47% of the world market, being the only company, whose products have been used at least once by 67% of all households (“About Colgate,” 2020). Its marketing strategy, in general, relies on appealing to all possible market segments while leveraging the massive power of its brand to facilitate bulk sales. The company utilizes a market penetration strategy to maintain its competitive advantage. The prices for the majority of its products are lower than those of closest competitors, those being Blend-a-Med, Crest, Listerine, and other premium-sector multinationals (Bhasin, 2018).
Against smaller domestic brands, Colgate has the advantage of being a world-famous brand name associated with toothpaste. The company engages in various public relations and promotion campaigns, including assistance to schools, dental clinics, and the poor. Additionally, Colgate participates in the Save Water initiative and various other ecological endeavors. Its presence on the Internet is relatively small in comparison to its size, and its CRM is limited due to the chosen business model.
Goods, Services, and the Desired Brand Image
Colgate is a major American-based brand and a part of a multinational conglomerate of companies Colgate-Palmolive-Unilever, which specializes in the production of various personal hygiene products (“About Colgate,” 2020). Colgate in particular is responsible for the production and promotion of dental care products, which includes toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwashes, and various other accessories for dental healthcare.
Colgate’s most popular products include the Colgate Zero family, characterized by the absence of artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners, Colgate Total, offering a well-balanced care against plaque and gingivitis, Colgate Optic White (which helps whiten teeth better than others), and Colgate Sensitive family (for sensitive teeth), among various others (“Toothpaste,” 2020).
The company’s desired brand image is to present itself as a perfect balance between quality and availability of the product, which it achieves with great success. Nevertheless, while Colgate enjoys great popularity among domestic households, it finds greater competition presenting itself as a professional tool used and recommended by dentists without paying them first (Bhasin, 2018). In addition, Colgate wishes to promote its brand as ecologically-friendly and corporate-conscious, participating in various humanitarian efforts to improve dental care in impoverished communities, and helping save water (“About Colgate,” 2020).
Target Market, Buyer Motivations, Demographics, and Psychographics
Toothpaste and other dental hygiene products have become an indispensable part of the day-to-day morning ritual. This opens an excellent opportunity for Colgate by offering it a vast market to acquire and explore. Effectively, the target marketing population for the company includes the entirety of the human population on Earth, though different products may be geared towards different customers, based on their socio-economic positioning, age, motivations for purchase, and unique dental conditions. Buyer motivations for purchasing Colgate toothpaste and other products are roughly characterized as the following (Danao, 2020):
- Good quality/price balance. Most customers do not really differentiate much between toothpaste, as they all look the same, taste the same, and feel the same. Therefore, they would be seeking to buy the most affordable toothpaste that offers roughly the same results.
- Dealing with specific dental conditions. While all toothpaste is more or less good at removing plaque, there are specific products that cater to unique issues a customer may wish to deal with on a daily basis. For example, the Colgate Sensitivity family of products (including toothpaste, mouth-wash, and a special brush) would be favored by individuals with sensitive teeth. Optic White, on the other hand, would be preferable for people wishing to obtain whiter teeth.
- Correspondence to age and preference. Colgate Kids tastes better and has attractive imagery that motivates children to buy it over others.
- Familiarity with the brand. Another psychographic motivator, as many individuals buy Colgate out of force of habit rather than objective comparison and a conscious choice.
Colgate’s demographics, thus, include customers between 5-80+ years of age, of all socio-economic standings and geographical localities, coming from all walks of life, and having a plethora of demographic and psychographic motivators to themselves. Because of Colgate’s wide reach, it holds 47% of the entire dental care market, and 67% of all homes have tried Colgate products at least once (“About Colgate,” 2020).
Colgate Overall Marketing Strategy
Colgate’s marketing strategy is built around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, planned behavior theory, and market orientation (Baker & Hart, 2016). It largely relies on increasing the availability of its products to the widest array of potential customers, while differentiating them enough to cover all the major points of interest in an increasingly heterogeneous population. In order to reduce the costs of the product for the customers, Colgate features a heavy reliance on extensive local supply chains complete with production values located at their largest national markets (Pan, 2019). Therefore, toothpaste sold in China would be produced in China, those in Europe would feature factories in all major nations as well. The US, being the birthplace of the company, has significant production values to supply the American market.
Colgate utilizes a culturally and economically appropriate strategy for any region they are occupying. For example, they change the designs of the same products in order to appeal to colors and motifs typically associated with said cultures. The design of the Chinese-branded Colgate Total featured red, white, and gold – colors associated with health and prosperity, whereas the rest of the world had white, blue, and green packaging (Pan, 2019).
Domestic production also allows balancing the price in accordance with the economic situation in the country – no matter the region, Colgate toothpaste tends to be on the cheaper end of the spectrum, whereas the positioning of other competitors lies in premium-quality pastes. Its primary competitors include Blend-a-Med, Listerine, and Crest, which demonstrate an emphasis on richer and more paying customers (Pan, 2019). It also explains why they, collectively, hold a smaller market share than Colgate. In the cheap toothpaste segment, the company largely faces a plethora of domestic brands, whose brands are not as recognizable.
Promotions and Advertising Campaign
Colgate features a large advertising budget, which implements all of the available types of advertising, including radio, TV, billboard, and paperback, as well as the Internet and social media (Baker & Hart, 2016). The quality of these advertisements varies from average to very good, with its purpose being not specifically to increase sales but to reinforce the familiarity of brand image in the customer, as well as to inform them about the existence of new products. Efforts to increase sales of new products through aggressive advertising campaigns on the media have traditionally been ineffective for Colgate, resulting in massive resource spending during the launch of Triple Protection in China (Pan, 2019).
On-site advertisements and market penetration strategies, which included reduced prices for new products, have worked much better for the company, incentivizing it to try out new products while retaining Colgate’s main competitive advantage – affordability.
A typical on-site advertisement involves a large cardboard cutout with the brand logo painted large and visible, along with standard attributes of dental care – toothpaste, toothbrush, mouth-rinse (Danao, 2020). The stand attracts attention and makes people want to approach while simultaneously informing them about its purpose. At the base, it involves holding places for various products offered, along with price tags that are significantly lower than they usually are. Such promotions create a sense of urgency among customers.
In addition to a standard array of advertising, Colgate engages heavily in promoting its brand among professional communities. Many private and public dental clinics are offered payments for using and recommending the products to their customers (Danao, 2020). School toothbrushing programs in the US and Canada are typically funded and supported by Colgate. These advertising and promotional strategies in particular promote the two brands of toothpaste: Colgate Kids and Colgate Professional, geared towards different population subgroups (Danao, 2020). Finally, the company attracts environmentally-conscious customers by presenting the brand as recycle-friendly and participating in various green initiatives.
Public Relations Campaign and Recommendations
Colgate has an extensive public relations program, which features assistance to impoverished and remote regions, support of school-based dental interventions, and various ecological initiatives. In Canada and the US, the company features a yearly public action called the Colgate Dental Van, which approaches different locations, provides free dental products, and teaches children, undereducated, and impoverished citizens how to properly take care of their teeth (Danao, 2020). These vans also act as portable stations where people could get their teeth and gums checked. In addition, Colgate promotes recyclability by saving water and utilizing secondary plastics for some of its production. Finally, Colgate donates money and funds to water preservation programs in Africa, to support the local populace (Danao, 2020).
Thus, the company’s public relations company relies largely on painting itself as an environmentally-conscious and socially-inclined enterprise. However, despite investing much into these initiatives, Colgate does surprisingly little to ensure exposure of these good deeds to the general populace beyond the immediate recipients. The “Save Water” program saw enough exposure, as the little info bracket was printed on nearly every toothpaste box during the period when that program was active (Danao, 2020).
However, the Colgate Dental Van as well as the numerous school support activities did not see as much exposure beyond short mentions in local news bulletins (Danao, 2020). It is recommended for Colgate to increase its social presence and use its available means of promotion to provide insight to the general populace about the efforts made by the company to benefit public healthcare. Such notions would improve the existing public relations between the company and its target populations.
Despite having a considerable presence in the traditional advertising media, Colgate’s Internet marketing remains somewhat modest. It is in part with most of its competitors, big or small. They feature various fan groups in most social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, have a personal site featuring all of its products, allow for purchases to be made online, and utilize online ads to attract attention and offer brand familiarity to the users (Baker & Hart, 2016). Newsletters are being sent by e-mail to individuals interested in keeping updated about all things dental, though such are a few.
The reasons why Colgate does not enjoy superiority on the Internet is the relative cheapness of advertising and presence maintenance. Other competitors, such as Crest, Blend-a-Med, and others can match Colgate online (Danao, 2020). In addition, the majority of sales the company makes is done through traditional retailing in brick-and-mortar stores. Therefore, online presence and sales constitute only a small portion of Colgate’s turnover.
Direct marketing stands for the use of telephone, fax, TV-shopping, and door-to-door visits in an effort to facilitate sales without featuring a middle-man in form of a retail store or a delivery service. Due to the affordable nature of most Colgate products, the company does not feature many direct marketing strategies. The only situation where Colgate bothers with individual sales is in remote rural locations that, more often than not, do not even have a single multi-purpose shop to provide the populace with basic dental hygiene components (“About Colgate,” 2020).
Colgate has an elaborate system of customer relationship management, which follows a customer from a very young age and until they become working adults. Various initiatives and sampling promotion campaigns are utilized to familiarize individuals with the brand, products, and effects, offering them for very cheap or for free.
The company offers support groups for dedicated fans, along with minor fringe benefits for loyalty or buying in bulk. In addition, partnerships with Palmolive and Unilever allow Colgate to participate in complex customer relationship programs throughout the entirety of one customer’s journey (Baker & Hard, 2016). As a result, they maintain a fairly solid hold on their dedicated customers while offering the rest of the market a plethora of affordable products without asking for affiliation. In that regard, Colgate’s CRM is not too different from other companies due to the inherent limits of providing bulk sales as a multinational conglomerate (Danao, 2020). They make their money from expanding towards as many customers as possible, making personal catering to individual clients a relatively limited prospect.
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