We’ve all seen the ad with the lickable Lynx chocolate man. But the Unilever-owned brand hasn’t just upped its advertising spend. It’s been heavily investing in trade promotion, too. 

The number of promotions for Lynx in leading grocery retailers increased from 46 in the first seven months of 2006 to 104 in the same period this year. As a result, it moved from 10th place in 2006 to third, with 18% of activity. 

In the process it overtook another deodorant brand, Sure, in the promotion stakes. Not that Unilever is ignoring Sure. Its share of spend is back where it was in 2006, having dropped to sixth in 2007 – proof that the Anglo-Dutch plc is putting serious money behind its toiletries. 

The most vivid example of this is Dove which, after a relatively small increase in promotional activity in the first half of 2007 (up from 149 promotions to 156), increased executions to more than 200 to support innovation. This moved the women’s skincare brand back up to first place ahead of Sara Lee-owned Radox. 

The fact that Dove, with such an increase in promotion levels over 2006 levels, accounts for a smaller percentage of trade spend in toiletries, shows what a battleground toiletries has become. As the multiples have sought discounts in non-food grocery items to offset rising food prices, Unilever appears happy to oblige, clearly seeing this as an opportunity to grow its market share. 

Not all the players appear willing to support discounting, however. Aside from Radox’s dip in spend, the most stark example of a slump in promotional noise involves two very traditional soap brands. This time last year, Palmolive was the third most heavily promoted brand, with 21% of overall spend. In the first seven months of 2008 it was the 12th. Imperial Leather, a PZ Cussons-owned brand, fell further still, to 18th place, as the number of promotions dropped from 111 to just 28 in 2008. 

Focus on Male Grooming p33