TAMPAX: POORLY MANAGED FRANCHISE MUST STOP SLIDE

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Tambrands' Tampax is in a precarious position.

The brand is still the market leader in tampons, but it is fast losing its grip on the No. 1 slot-a victim of corporate mismanagement and a marketing strategy that's out of step with the 1990s.

"Tampax is seen as old-fashioned by young women, while Playtex is viewed as hip and modern," says Robert LePre, a principal with New England Consulting Group and, from 1988 to 1990, corporate group VP-general manager for Tambrands U.S.

"The management [in the early 1990s] lost sight of-and didn't seem to care-who their customer is, and then tried to make money by continually pushing up prices," he says.

Corporate woes have certainly played a role in Tampax's problems. In mid-1993, new leadership was brought in but Tampax will need more than a shot of morale boosting.

Although Tambrands still dominates the $714 million tampon category with a 49.5% share through the second quarter of 1994, its share has yet to show an upturn back to the 60% level it held in 1989. Chief competitors Playtex Family Products Corp. and Kimberly-Clark Corp. have taken advantage of Tambrands' difficulties, introducing new products and slashing prices. As rivals cut prices, Tambrands raised them and also cut marketing spending.

Tambrands' executives acknowlege that much of the share erosion is due to cuts in U.S. advertising and promotion in the early 1990s, a factor they hope to remedy this year and into 1995.

"We are concentrating on increasing Tampax usage in the U.S., and to do that we are investing more in ... advertising and marketing," says Janey Loyd, VP-marketing at Tambrands North America.

Several new products will share a $25 million ad budget, handled by BBDO Worldwide, New York.

Women tend to remain loyal to feminine hygiene brands for many years after the onset of menstruation, so Tambrands had better act fast to restore its shrinking market share.

Says Mr. LePre: "It's not too late to turn around the company, but [current] efforts may be too little."

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