P&G created an entire system around floor sweeping through the Swiffer brand. But the Swiffer sweeper system is not the only one out there. S. C. Johnson’s Pledge Grab-It is a competitive system that was introduced the same month. It seems like there is no difference between them for the average person. Why, then, is Swiffer the brand of choice? Why do consumers so often refer to competing products as Swiffers, but nobody refers to the Swiffer as a Grab-It?
There are many parts to the answer. First, Swiffer was first to market, and P&G made a bigger deal of the product introduction. The market pioneer often gets an advantage in product and brand recognition. Even so, Pledge’s dry sweeper was introduced less than a month later, not giving Swiffer much time to establish a stronghold in consumer’s minds.
second is the strong advertising campaign by P&G, which was barely matched by the competition. In part, the first of a new type of product must do the dirty work of educating consumers, so additional advertising is needed. A “me too” product competes for consumers who already know what it does. But again, Pledge came out in the same month. In talking to industry experts, no one really anticipated the level of success from this product, and it may be that the competitors decided to spend their advertising dollars on other products in their strategic portfolios.
The third reason that Swiffer became the market leader and maintains that lead is because of its intellectual property. Intellectual property (IP) is a key strategic differentiator for a company. Many times, it is not the company’s products, infrastructure, workforce, or customer base that separate it from the competition, but its IP. Around the globe, countries recognize the power and importance of IP and provide legal means to companies to protect their know-how through the legal system.