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COLGATE BUFFS MURPHY'S LINE TWO NEW KITCHEN PRODUCTS TOUTED WITH SAFETY POSITIONING

By Published on .

Colgate-Palmolive Co. wants to make its mark in the household cleaner category with a new product line under the Murphy's banner.

National shipments of Murphy's Kitchen Care Liquid All Purpose Cleaner and Murphy's Kitchen Care Glass & Surface Spray begin this month. Both products are made with a neutral pH formula that makes them safer on household surfaces than most other cleaners.

They will extend the Murphy's Oil Soap products, known for their gentle cleaning power.

The company expects the new Murphy's Kitchen Care line to eventually double sales of the estimated $34 million Murphy's business. Sales of all-purpose household cleaners and sprays hit $1.2 billion for the 52 weeks ended July 31, according to Information Resources Inc.

"Safety on surfaces is a real distinction for our new products because from the consumer standpoint, safety is the No. 1 desired benefit-higher even than efficacy," said Suzan Harrison, general manager of Colgate's Household Surface Care Category.

Ms. Harrison pointed out that Colgate has taken "world-class technology" from its European operations and applied it to the Murphy's line. The same micro-emulsion formulation has made the company's Ajax brand the leading European cleaner.

By bringing an international technology-although under a different label-to the U.S., Colgate is trying out a new strategy.

In the past the company has not brought its successful international products or technology to the U.S. This signals the beginning of that approach, said Heather Hay, analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities, New York.

"To bring a product to the U.S. is a new twist on the strategy and you'll probably see more successful products overseas brought to the U.S.," she said. "I think this is an attempt on their part to generate more significant new product activity."

Colgate plans to spend $20 million in media and promotions during Murphy's Kitchen Care's first year on the market. Advertising from Genova Hartwick Juliano, Greenwich, Conn., is still in development but the message will focus on the line's core positioning of safety to surfaces.

The TV campaign could begin as early as mid-December, with a national free standing insert dropping on Dec. 4.

So far, Murphy's Kitchen Care line will have a safety positioning virtually to itself.

"There really isn't a direct competitor," said Colgate's Ms. Harrison. "Other brands out there-like Clorox and [Procter & Gamble Co.'s] Comet have great equity but they can't talk safety to surfaces.

"The way they've been positioned, they can't come into this territory. We're pretty well insulated from the competitive onslaught," she said.

At least for now.

If the line succeeds, Ms. Hay of J.P. Morgan predicts other marketers will duplicate Colgate's efforts.

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