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Aqualisa was a high reputation Company and launched the Quartz shower, which is the first significant innovation product in the U.K shower market. This product solves the poor pressure, varying temperature, hard to install and other problems for customers. During the field tests, it was received many positive reviewers. Although this product seems satisfied with customers’ needs, the early sales results were poor. To change a marketing strategy or not is a key issue that Rawlinson is facing now. Analysis:
By analysis the competition in the UK market share (Exhibit 1), the company has three main competitors-Triton, Mira and Masco. The market share of Triton is about 30% and Mira is about 22%. Gainsborough (11%) and Aqualisa (7%)market share ranked in number three. All of these companies are supplying the similar products. It is difficult for Aqualisa to gain competitive advantage. Also only Triton succeeded in building brand awareness at the customers level. As a result, most consumers do not pay more attention on other brands. This is one of the reasons caused the sales decrease.
Besides, most consumers were complaint about their showers because of the poor pressure, varying temperature, hard to turn valves, leaky seals and worn-out showers. They were even uniformed about showers and there was little understanding of product options. Basic on bad previous experiences on other brands’ showers, it is difficult for them to accept a new product. For plumbers, they were distrusted about innovation products. Usually they have their own loyalty brands and were extremely reluctant to switch brands. However, plumbers are playing an important role in customers’ purchase decision for the shower products. It was influenced about 73% of the whole market sales. (Exhibit 2). Although Quartz value proposition both to consumers and plumbers is better than older products (Exhibit 3), the company did not build a good connection between consumers and plumbers. As a result, the sales did not arrive their expectations.
The other reason that caused the sales problems is that Aqualisa had a poor distribution. About 40% of Aqualisa brand was available in trade shops. Mixer showers are the most popular product in Trade shops (Exhibit 4). Actually their initial consumers were plumbers. Plumbers were work for developer, showrooms, contractors and even directly to customers. When Aqualisa sold its products in the trade shops, it has no time to learn and explain advantages of such a good product to the end consumers. Consequently, most plumbers were unfamiliar with the Quartz and they did not want to waste time to try the new product. In addition, most consumers trust plumbers to five them suggestion on buying shower product. So Aqualisa should pay more attention on the plumbers.
If plumbers realize the Quartz is better than other brands, the sales will increase faster. Another channel is the showroom. It is mainly sold to high-end customers and about 25% Aqualisa brand sold in showrooms. It is illustrates that the market penetration is very low in the showrooms. Also the bestseller products in showroom are mixer showers (Exhibit 4). So the biggest competitors for Quartz are mixer showers. For the DIY channel, Aqualisa products were even unavailable. It is necessary for Aqualisa Company to determine which distribution channels it should focus on and clarify the position of this product.
Moreover, the company did not have a good targeting strategy. If the company focuses on consumers directly, the risk is high and it will spend much money on advertising. Also only 6% mix showers is the commercial installation (Exhibit 5). It is illustrates that Aqualisa did not have s strong relationship with customers. If the company invests money on consumers directly, it cannot make sure it would be success. If the company target DIY market, it is difficult for the company to position the new products as premium brand. Usually in DIY market, the consumers are the price-oriented. For the developers, even if they could order large-volume, it is hard for them to buy Quartz because of the premium price. Target on plumbers and trade shops are important for Aqualisa. Plumbers have big influence on customers buying decision process and about 54% installation by independent plumbers (Exhibit 5). Also in trade shops, the main customers are plumbers. If the company can persuade plumbers to buy the new product, it will gain a rapid growth on its sales. Recommendations:
To gain sales momentum, the best way for the company to do is to focus on the plumbers. Try to educate plumbers and send free Quartz for them to test it and supply some discounts for them when they order large volume. Also it is can provide product guarantee for plumbers. What’s more, the company can create more marketing campaigns and bring the brand experiences to customers and increase their brand awareness of its new product.
Exhibit 1: U.K. Market Share Data: Units Sold (2000)
Exhibit 2: Shower Selection for Mixer Showers
Exhibit 3: Quartz Value Proposition
Efficient and reliable water pressure and temperature
One touch control with red light
Safe for their kids and elder people
Excellent design and much easier to install for DIY
Easy to install
Low cost, more profitable
Half-day to install
Young apprentices and no experience people can do it
Exhibit 4: U.K. Shower Market, by Product Type and Channel (Total Units Sold, 2000)
Exhibit 5: U.K. Shower Market, by Installation Method (Mixer Showers Only)