How Once The Ever-Present Colgate Failed To Impress The Masses?

Colgate is a well-known American oral hygiene company that produces toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwashes, and dental floss. 

Colgate oral hygiene products were initially sold by Colgate-Palmolive in 1873, sixteen years after the company’s founder, William Colgate, passed away.

Colgate is the only brand in the world purchased by more than half of all homes, according to a 2015 analysis by market research firm Kantar Worldpanel. 

Colgate has a global market penetration of 67.7% and a 45 percent global market share. 

With 40 million new homes consuming Colgate-branded goods in 2014, it kept the highest growth rate of all brands in the world!

But do you know that even such a big brand had its days of the dark!

When Colgate introduced its food products, it learned that name isn’t everything that works in the market!

Colgate Brand Extension

Brand extension is a marketing approach in which a company that markets a well-known product uses the same brand across many product categories. The newly introduced product will be called a spin-off. 

Brand extension has a lot of ramifications for a well-known brand. 

One reason for the popularity of brand extension is that it reduces the risks of launching new items because customers are initially more likely to accept products offered by existing brands. 

Regardless of the business, brand expansion is a dangerous decision because it requires the company to cross the uncharted territory of new competitors and maybe to launch items that, rather than utilizing and benefiting the established brand, work against it. 

This explains why businesses prefer to conduct thorough market research before deciding on a brand extension strategy!

For brand extension disasters, Colgate Frozen Dinner Entrees is believed to be the worst. 

Yes, Colgate made frozen foods!

Never heard of it? 

Well, here’s why!

Colgate’s Frozen Foods

In 1982, Colgate introduced Kitchen Entrees, a frozen food line in the United States. 

They wanted to cash in on the expanding ready-to-eat meal sector. 

To comprehend the failure of Kitchen Entrees, we must first understand the context in which Colgate executives assumed that consumers desired and would purchase frozen meals.

The expanding market for ready-to-eat meals prompted the Kitchen Entrees brand extension!

For many people, during that time, the opportunity costs of home-cooked food outweighed the benefits as the economy tightened. 

As a result, ready-to-eat meals were a convenient and cost-effective option.

Brand Identity

Colgate’s Kitchen Entrees marked a significant departure from Colgate’s brand identity among the company’s oral health product categories. 

Colgate became the global leader in oral care, with a substantial market share lead in toothpaste and a growing presence in toothbrushes and mouthwash after decades of marketing toothpaste and then other dental hygiene products. 

Because of its dominance in this market, its brand salience, or identity, is inextricably linked to dental care. 

Colgate’s brand identification is so inflexible in the minds of consumers that its top brand connotations are “toothpaste,” “white,” “T,” and “Toothpaste.”

The Failure

The image of Colgate in people’s minds is highly associated with “toothpaste,” “white,” “teeth,” “fresh,” “clean,” “red,” and “tube”. 

None of them resembles food or edible things in the slightest. 

Although the purpose behind Kitchen Entrees could have been that people would go out and buy its toothpaste after enjoying their frozen meals. 

In its “increasing efforts to spread the brand,” Colgate appeared to have lost sight of its own brand identity and relationship with consumers whose awareness of Colgate was limited to dental hygiene.

The product brand image of Kitchen Entrees did not align with Colgate’s overall brand image, which had been improved over time. 

This demonstrates Colgate’s constant efforts to promote a solid, one-dimensional brand identity, which translated into rigorous brand awareness and, eventually, consumers’ behavioral devotion to specific product lines under an overarching brand: dental care. 

As a result, while Colgate did an excellent job of promoting brand identification and sustaining consumer brand resonance as a top corporation in the dental products market, this functioned as a barrier to its expansion into frozen meals. 

The fault does not lie with Colgate’s brand identity but on Colgate’s failure to comprehend what customers thought of its brand.


The Takeaway

Colgate’s fundamental problem in this brand extension was a misperception of and alienation from its brand. 

Kitchen Entrees’ failure is a valuable lesson in how tough brand expansions can be, even for large corporations. 

In this situation, Colgate made the mistake of depending too heavily on its well-known brand without considering the associations that people had with it. 

Colgate’s hard and specific brand defined the failure of Kitchen Entrees as a prominent dental supplies company, supported by the corporation’s unreflective logo blunder. 

The company did, in fact, spot a rising need for ready-to-eat meals, which has now grown into a thriving global sector. 
Consumers did require and desire ready-to-eat meals, but not from a dental-focused corporation such as Colgate.