Northeastern University Researcher Looks at the ‘News’ of Toothpaste

April 18, 2008

Marketing professor examines cross-national communication messages

Communicating to consumers what’s new about toothpaste is a repeat task marketers of the popular product must constantly think about. Markets in developed and developing countries present varying challenges but a Northeastern University researcher and his team found that there are startling commonalities as well. Marketing professor Samuel Rabino and his co-authors looked at Australia, Mexico, and the Philippines and discussed their findings in a new study, titled Creating “New News” Cross-Nationally in a Crowded Category: The Case of Toothpaste.

“The paper presents approaches to identifying effective communication messages for consumers in the saturated category of toothpaste in these three countries,” said Rabino, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing at Northeastern’s College of Business Administration and lead author of the study. “We’ve looked at both the differences and the similarities pertinent to consumer preferences and those of the makers and our findings support exciting opportunities for revolutionalizing new product development worldwide.”

The toothpaste manufacturers examined in the study faced several challenges, including how to identify breakthrough “news” for products in the toothpaste category in both developing and developed countries. A second issue discussed by the authors was whether the traditional segmentation strategy based upon forms, flavors and ingredients could be augmented by mind-set segmentation, the overarching segments that share common responses.

Co-authored by researchers Gillie Gabay, Howard Moskowitz and Kimmy Li, the analysis of results by country suggest that country-to-country differences cannot easily be overcome. On a practical basis, it may be necessary to change the rules by looking for different ways to find winning elements that work in the three countries.

Included amongst the ways to find similar elements is to look for commonalities among consumers, independent of country. By segmenting individuals world-wide and independent of country, it is possible to discover homogeneous groups of consumers, defined in terms of preferences or propensity to buy, that reside in three different countries. With the homogeneity comes the possibility of developing a single product concept for toothpaste that applies across all three country markets, communicating the same selling points.

“Because the mind-set is homogeneous, a single product concept can be more targeted, and can thus be transported worldwide,” added Rabino.

For more information, please contact Samantha Fodrowski at 617-373-5427 or s.fodrowski@neu.edu.

About Northeastern University College of Business Administration

Northeastern University College of Business Administration, established in 1922, provides its students – undergraduate, graduate and executive – with the education, tools, and experience necessary to launch and accelerate successful business careers.  The College credits its success to expert faculty, close partnerships with industry, and its emphasis on rigorous academics combined with experiential learning.

The College is highly ranked by several prestigious publications. BusinessWeek ranks the College 34th in its “Best Undergraduate B-schools" and #1 in internships.  The College’s Bachelor of Science in International Business program is ranked #16 by U.S. News & World Report. The undergraduate program is also distinguished by Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine as one of the U.S. top 25 entrepreneurship programs.  Financial Times ranks the College’s Executive MBA program in the U.S. top 50.  For more information about Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration, visit www.cba.neu.edu.

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston.  Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world.  The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions.  For more information, please visit www.northeastern.edu

For more information, please contact Samantha Fodrowski at 617-373-5427 or at s.fodrowski@neu.edu.

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