Arm & Hammer – Discontinuous Positioning Saved The Day

Arm and Hammer Old baking soda.jpeg

The successful repositioning of the brand by extending usage through disparate ways saved the brand and grew the brand and business

Revising the promise of the brand. If the consumer allows the brand marketer to reveal a secret advantage of the brand, does it radically expand the customer’s connection with the brand?

When it comes to repositioning, discontinuous repositioning is the most daring and sometimes dangerous option. A complete departure from the previous. When compared to the past, this represents a break in the brand’s values. This is the branding version of taking a risky journey to a place where you don’t speak the language, face different competition, and face different business circumstances.

When done well, discontinuous repositioning may breathe fresh vitality into a brand, which can lead to significant financial gains. We can see it in three different shapes. 1) new applications 2) updated features 3) fresh opportunities.

An example of discontinuous repositioning is the long-standing Arm & Hammer brand of baking soda.

In 1846, Arm & Hammer started selling baking soda, a substance they had made for home baking. It achieved phenomenal popularity and eventually became well-known all over the world. In the late ’60s, sales hit a high of almost $16 million.

A change occurred in the market. There was a surge in the sale of pre-packaged meals. Convenience and quickness started to trump the old-fashioned home-cooked dinner in the marketplace. Arm & Hammer started to see a decline in demand.

Arm & Hammer needed to make a choice. They could retire the product and start again, or they could listen to the feedback of satisfied buyers to figure out where to take it next. Thankfully, they went with option two.

The executives at Arm & Hammer were aware that their baking soda deodorant had other benefits, like absorbing bad smells. They started analysing their clients to learn more about these other applications for their baking soda. They discovered that buyers were putting the goods in their refrigerators. If this worked, bad fridge odours would be a thing of the past.

Discontinuous Repositioning

Now that they knew this, Arm & Hammer got to work. They changed their marketing to make their product seem like a deodorant that everyone’s fridge would have. They repackaged the product to make it even more suitable for this use. In place of the original bag, it is now packaged in a box.

According to an advertising campaign, you could put a box in the fridge to get rid of smells and use the new one for baking. A whole new customer base for its goods was created as a result of this. This repositioning as a deodorizer may have reduced the purchase-repurchase replacement cycle.

Taking advantage of this trend, Arm & Hammer included a calendar to help you remember to swap out your box every three months and a reminder to do so on the side panel of the box. After that, a specialised container with spill-proof holes was added.



They had tremendous success with their repositioning. People were stocking up on baking soda and swapping out their containers every 30 days. By the late 1980s, sales had shot up to almost $300 million, a roughly 20-fold increase from their initial peak. Because of the positive results of this campaign, Arm & Hammer repositioned themselves as deodorizers. In the end, they came up with a plethora of solutions that all served the same basic function: to get rid of unpleasant smells.

It was promoted as an antacid too, which further extended the product’s usage and allowed for another continuous repositioning. When you need an antacid to help with acid indigestion, heartburn, or stomach distress, use Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Using only three common household items: baking soda, an antacid, and a deodorizer. Logically and efficiently, this astute market expands the reach and use of a basic product.

Arm & Hammer trademark products such as liquid laundry soap, kitty litter, dental care, gum, and deodorant antiperspirant are likely to be available in today’s supermarkets. With a deft marketing strategy, Arm & Hammer expanded the reach of a single brand to include additional products and services, appealing to a wider demographic.



Simplicity Marketing: End Brand Complexity, Clutter, and Confusion
Steven M. Cristol, Peter Sealey

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