Nairobi, Kenya, Jun 28 – When Ariel detergent brand came back to Kenya after a short hiatus, the market, especially the top positions, was saturated with other brands. Yet they had set their eyes on the ultimate leadership position. Seven years later, they are the leading brand in the detergent market.

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According to research, Ariel detergent is the current market leader claiming about 30% of the market share.

Just how did Ariel, a brand that was barely known 6 years ago wash its way to the top in the detergent market in Kenya?

The story begins with Ariel’s return to the country in 2009. The market was flooded and top positions fully filled. Then the scramble began.

During the Ariel Machine wash launch, Irene Mwathi, the communication manager at Procter and Gamble and Lydia Kakutwi, the Associate Brand Manager of Ariel & Downey shed some light on the strategies they employed.

Seven years after returning to Kenya, investing in research has been the key to the success of the company and it’s brands.

“As a company, before we make any plans to launch in a market, we really spend time in understanding the consumer and the market,” explained Irene Mwathi.

She added that answering these questions; “what is in the market currently & what are the gaps that are not filled?” plays a pivotal role in their successful penetration when they venture into new markets.

Even though there are many brands that equally have good products in the market, Irene believes that focusing on developing a product that solves the market’s problem has been their key magic bullet that catapulted Ariel to the top position.

“We focused on the stains that were prevalent here. We sent sample stains to our lab in the Brussels so that when we were making the product and when we came, we really connected with Kenyans. Our advertisements were and still are very relatable,” Irene pointed out.

Asked whether the Ariel ads on TV, Radio, digital and print, could have been one of the strategies that placed them at the top, ILydia Kakutwi admitted that they always want to stay top of mind when a consumer thinks of a detergent.

“To be top of mind of consumers, they need to see our brand in the morning when they wake up, when they go to work, and when they go home in the evening,” explained Lydia Kakutwi.

Recently, Ariel did a survey through a local research agency that found out that only 200,000 Kenyans have a washing machine. It was commissioned as part of their plan to understand the potential of the market before launching a machine wash.

“Yes, around 200,000 Kenyans have a washing machine,” she confirmed. “The reason why we needed this research was for us to understand the potential in the market. How big can it get?” she added.

While competition is to a company what a storm is to a ship, they have managed to thrive in the turbulence. Though the Ariel brand currently enjoys the dominant position in the market, they admit that competition has been stiff.

“You have to make sure that you are on your toes so that position one doesn’t blind you,” explained Lydia.

Key to their success has been a programme where they see around 1 million women in Kenya per month.

“We go to the women groups, we teach them how to use detergents and we are listening to them. We see around one million women per month. They, in turn, have become our brand champions,” she explained.

Procter and Gamble Kenya was launching machine wash, a detergent specifically made for washing machine.


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Author: Dannish Odongo

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