01 August 1999

UNILEVER CLAIMS to have regained pole position in the UK household detergent market after four years in the shadow of Procter & Gamble. In the no-holds-barred ‘soap war’ of 1994 Lever Brothers’ market-leading Persil Power was toppled by Ariel following P&G’s remorseless exploitation of flaws in the Unilever brand. This was eventually withdrawn after it was shown to weaken fabrics and cause colours to fade. However, since the recent launch of Persil Tablets, the tide has turned in favour of the Anglo-Dutch giant. The new brand, aided by a multi-million pound ad campaign, has captured pole position with almost 10% of the UK market. According to market researcher IRI Infoscan, one in seven households have tried the product with almost half making a repeat purchase. P&G, which still leads the washing powder sector as a whole, is currently piloting Ariel discs in the Grimsby area.