From SURE To Rexona: Can Unilever Effectively Pull This One?

From SURE To Rexona: Can Unilever Effectively Pull This One?

By Blessing Nwobodo |

If there is one thing that irritates a consumer, it is to feel helpless and confused at the point of purchasing a particular brand. Most times, the confused consumer ends up rejecting the brand for another he/she believes is safer. This is exactly the case of Chika Nwanekezie, an undergraduate of the Lagos State University,  who recently visited a Chemist store to buy her favourite deodorant “SURE”, which she said has been her brand for several years.

To her consternation, the Chemist attendant pulled out a similar brand that looked everyway ‘SURE’, only that the name had Rexona on it. “They have the same packaging and the same iconic tick Logo. I was confused and again asked him to give me SURE, which was what I demanded for earlier.”

Despite the explanation given by the Chemist attendant that the two products are the same and from the same company, Nwanekezie would not bulge. She insisted on her favourite SURE brand.

Since the attendant couldn’t adequately convince her, even after informing her that Rexona has replaced SURE, Nwanekezie decided to settle for another brand of deodorant.

The SURE brand, from Unilever Nigeria is arguably the most popular and widely patronized deodorant in the Nigerian market, with a value share of over 28 per cent. Its popularity among consumers is supported by the fact that it is widely available in retail outlets, benefitting from Unilever’s extensive distribution network in the country.

Having successfully entrenched itself as a stronghold in the Nigerian Deodorant market with the name SURE, one wonders why Unilever Nigeria is extremely confident of replacing the SURE name for Rexona.  There is the saying after all, that ‘You don’t fix it when it’s not broken’ and, in other words ‘Why change the winning formular?’

Though SURE and Rexona are exactly the same and are manufactured by British-Dutch company, Unilever, the company markets the product under the Rexona name in a number of other countries. While it is known as SURE in the UK, it is marketed as Degree in the United States of America and Canada, as Rexena in Japan and Korea and as Shield in South Africa.

Speaking on why it is introducing Rexona into the Nigerian deodorant market, Category Manager, Skin Care and Deodorants, Unilever Nigeria Plc, James Inglesby, explained that it is a strategic move to tap into the huge opportunities that the Nigerian market presents, in order to further boost its market and mind share globally.  “The Nigerian market holds huge potentials for us.  About 170 million people live in Nigeria. That means we have 340 million armpits that need deodorant. Besides, what we are also trying to do is to help use Rexona deodorant bring people’s confidence back. Once people start sweating and smelling, they begin to lose confidence. We are here to restore that confidence,” he stated.

On why Unilever has chosen to rename SURE deodorant as Rexona, Inglesby defended the company’s decision, stating “The reason we brought Rexona to replace SURE is that SURE is only sold in UK. Rexona is a two billion Euros brand globally while SURE only makes 13 per cent of it. So, when you want to launch a new product, you bring the global leader, which is Rexona.

He also explained that bringing Rexona to Nigeria is of multiple benefits. “First, the product that you get now is designed for the UK market and not Nigeria. Also, we’ve looked into what other fragrances that Nigerians want before launching Rexona.

The other thing that we have is earning global sponsorship; everybody can see that we sponsored the World Cup. You can only do that with Rexona, you cannot do that with SURE, because it is only a UK thing, while Rexona is a global brand. It also allows us to bring in innovations, bigger innovations, quicker to Nigerians. That’s why we brought it. So what we offer now is a superior product that has been improved for Nigeria. The Sure deodorant that you know is now coming in improved format as Rexona,” he stated.

While Unilever has begun pushing out campaigns to re-orientate the Nigerian consumers and get their buy-in into Rexona, there could only be two possible outcomes from the move. Its either the consumers accept Rexona for SURE, and make it the leading deodorant brand, or reject Rexona to settle for competing brands, which could take advantage of the communication gap herein to tap from the pool of confused SURE consumers. What if the latter happens?

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