Clearance -? leading acne product In US, Germany and Japan (deform 1375, was first-mover In approved treatment tort acne In these countries. Nippon-Vicki: wholly owned subsidiary of Richardson-Vicki in Japan Initial growth was very accelerated. – The firm was not associated with cold treatment as in the US, but with laxative segment. Not the ideal association a facial care product as such Clearance. Japanese markets for acne-related products: differences from US market – Cultural perception of acne: Differs from US. In Japan, it Is much more accepted, and considered a part of adolescence and growing up. Consequently, Japanese teens did not have the same desire and need to reduce their pimples.
Only 47% teens treated their pimples (“theaters” and “non-theaters”). Drugstores: small and personalized, based on word- of-mouth and recommendations, both by the drugstore staff and the doctors. All drug products stay behind the counter. – Product segments: Drugs: Specific chemical composition, claiming to treat and cure acne. Few competitors, mostly pharmaceutical firms. Could only be distributed In drugstores, behind the counter. These products were perceived as being a lot stronger than reality, and perceived to be used solely for extreme cases. Clearance was registered under the drug segment.
Quasi-drugs: Products with mild chemical composition, lamming only to prevent acne, and prohibited to be marketed as a treatment product. Fierce. Both local and foreign brands. Could be sold in supermarkets. Department stores and the central aisles in drugstores (were not required to stay behind the counter). Mash” products: Current largest share of the Japanese acne market, and expanding. Fierce competition, both local and foreign brands. Could also be distributed anywhere. The products were mainly cleansing bar soaps, creams, foams, all marketed tort general skin care (not necessarily tort acne specifically).
Analysis: or positioning considering market characteristics and distribution systems Clearance’s introduction In Japan was initially successful, but mostly because it had the first mover advantage. Being the first product to be adversities solely for acne treatment, Clearance initiated the market in Japan. However, as local and international competitors entered the market, Clearance’s strategy showed to be Inappropriate. Consequently its sales gradually decreased, never able to reach the Initial levels. One of the Issues was the decision to register Clearance as a drug, and the functional -way advertising of the product.
Neither of them was suitable given the cultural acceptance of acne in Japan. Due to that, Clearance was perceived as too strong, only to be used In extremes cases, which limited its target market. Also, being registered as a drug limited the distribution system to only drugstores, and could be indicated ‘ Off mouth. The decision to register Clearance as drug in the Japanese market was not advantageous. Another issue was Nippon-Vicki being associated with Cola (laxative product), which was not appropriate when they were trying to market a facial care reduce in Japan.
Given these facts and the fast growth of the wash segment relative to the others, Nippon-Vicki should have repositioned Clearance to the wash segment earlier, work on relationship with new distributors, and ultimately with a non- functional marketing campaign. Recommendation: brand and product repositioning, distribution Clearance needs to be perceived as a brand for daily use. For that, the product should go through a complete brand repositioning strategy. In spite of the presence of competitors, Clearance needs to enter the growing wash segment with OTOH creams and soaps.
First, that would increase the distribution outreach, facilitating consumer access to the product. Also, considering the relative acceptance of acne in teens in Japan, the wash segment instead of the drug category is more appealing to consumer needs, expanding its target market. A possible issue would be with relationship with new distributors (department stores, supermarkets, etc), since Clearance did not previously cultivate it. Clearance’s brand is already associated with a laxative product, excessively strong chemical composition and outdated marketing approach.
From now on, this product needs to be perceived as trivial product that can be used by anyone at anytime. Therefore, I recommend to change the name to “Clearance day-to-day’ or similar to take the seriousness out of the brand name, reduce association with the laxative product and Clearance’s previous advertising. This product should focus on the lifestyle instead of the functionality. Only by appropriately positioning Clearance in a new segment, reassessing its marketing strategy to appeal to the Japanese consumer will its sales increase. Horrid should follow with his strategy despite the post-campaign results.