Cosco Glycerin Soap was once one of the most popular soaps in Bangladesh. After independence, Bangladesh’s first glycerin soap had gained immense popularity. Being a transparent glycerin soap, it was so popular that the soap being was gifted as a wedding gift. But with local and foreign beauty soaps pouring into the market in the 90’s, Cosco soap was gradually losing ground in the competition with these brands. As a result, currently, there is less & less availability of Cosco glycerine soap in the market. But, what happened to the once so popular soap brand that it has declined to the point of unavailability.
Overview of Cosco Glycerine Soap
Cosco is a brand of Commander Soap Co (BD). Limited, which started its operations in Bangladesh in 1948. Commander Soap Co. Ltd was once a leading soap and detergent manufacturing company in Bangladesh & the second industrial establishment in the Tejgaon industrial area of Dhaka. Cosco Soap was originally the country’s first transparent glycerin soap. As a result, the soap had gained popularity in the market since the 70s. Besides being used regularly in homes Cosco glycerin soap was used in educational institutions, offices, courts, and private companies as well. Cosco soaps were also given along with gift items at wedding ceremonies. Being affordable in terms of price and due to its long-lasting attributes, the popularity of Cosco soap among customers was constantly increasing. As a result, until 1990, Cosco Soap was the top soap in the Bangladesh market. But during the 90’s as the foreign brands entered the Bangladesh market and various local soap and detergent manufacturers started producing beauty soap, the market share of Cosco started declining. According to a 2016 report, at that time Cosco’s market share was 6 percent while Lux’s market share at that time was about 45 percent.
Cosco was launched as transparent glycerin soap. And, throughout its lifecycle and even today the soap hadn’t gone through any change or development. Even though domestic and foreign beauty soaps became popular in the market later in the 90s, Cosco did not bring much variation in their product line. Local and international brands like Lux, Meril, Keya, Aromatic have come up with different fragrances in their products as well as product variations according to skin type. Later, while other domestic brands lagged behind in product upgrades, foreign companies like Unilever regularly changed the size, color, and fragrance variations of their products, such as Lux and Lifeboy. But Cosco has never made a difference in their product since the beginning. As a result, the brand gradually lost its popularity to the customers and the demand for Cosco soap in the market also started decreasing.
From the beginning, Cosco has been using a simple packaging design of red, green and yellow for their soap packaging. On the other hand, the popular foreign beauty soaps in the Bangladeshi market, besides bringing variations in their products, have brought changes in the packaging. Brands used different color themes and plastic packaging to attract consumers. Although local brands started lagging in innovation & packaging, international brands regularly changed their product packaging. But Cosco’s packaging has been the same with no significant change since it first came in the market. As a result, the product failed to retain consumers’ attraction.
Lack of Promotion & Branding
In Bangladesh’s soap and toiletries industry, when local and foreign players started bringing their products, they were using media like newspapers, magazines, and radio for promotion. When the popularity of television was increasing, the brands focused their marketing and promotional activities on television as well. However, in Cosco glycerine soap’s case, it seems the company was not focused on effective promotion and branding for the brand. Since its inception, the brand had only promoted one TVC and one print advertisement. While all the other brands were constantly promoting new TVCs and print advertisements for their promotion. Celebrity endorsement plays a significant role in promoting products such as beauty soaps and consumers in South Asia, in particular, are pretty influenced by the lifestyle of celebrities. So foreign and local brands advertised and endorsed their products at different times through celebrities. But Cosco Soap was never engaged in such celebrity endorsements since the beginning of their journey. As a result, Cosco Soap failed to compete with other local and foreign brands to attract consumers. In addition, over time, other brands began to use digital media platforms for their marketing and promotion, but Cosco was never seen using a digital platform to market their products.
Lack of Awareness
Glycerin has long been used in glycerin soaps, due to its property that helps retain moisture for dry and sensitive skin. Even though Cosco glycerin soap was used regularly at home, it was also used in hotels and restaurants for hand washing. Because of its long-lasting characteristics, Cosco soap could be used for a long time. Thus, Cosco soap was becoming increasingly popular in restaurants for handwashing. On the other hand, beauty soaps produce a lot of foam, and because of their fragrance, consumers began to prefer those beauty soaps over Cosco soap. Consumers believed Cosco could not be an effective skincare product, having been used as a handwash. The company has never tried to inform its customers about the benefits of its glycerin soap. As a result, the use of Cosco soap as a skincare soap gradually declined. Cosco’s product line includes products like handwash, detergent, dishwashers as well, but no effort has been made to increase awareness among customers about these products.
Since the beginning of their journey, Cosco was the only soap manufacturing company. But as local and international soap manufacturing companies entered the market in the 90s, competition in the industry increased. Besides the availability of Cosco soap, soaps from other brands were also available in the market. Additionally, those brands also offered a variety of products depending on the product’s shape, fragrance, color, and consumer class. Which resulted in consumers choosing those brands over Cosco. To stay ahead in the competition, the brands have also emphasized branding, marketing, improved promotional campaigns and supply chain. Thus, even though the brand had no competitors at the beginning of its journey, however, as the number of competitors increased, the brand continued to lose market share due to a lack of proper measures to expand its market.