P&G Battery Marketing. Does Duracell’s Quantum Have the Juice to Overtake CopperTop?

Photo: Duracell website.

Photo: Duracell website.

Duracell has just launched a new battery.

Self-proclaimed as “the world’s most advanced alkaline battery,” please welcome Duracell Quantum.

Back in 2009, I wrote about Duracell Smart Power, and why I thought it was a strong brand positioning platform.  Judging from the company’s website, it seems that Duracell has abandoned this approach.

Innovation continues, though, with a new, red battery.

Here’s the description for Quantum on the company’s website:

Introducing Duracell Quantum. A revolutionary advancement in battery technology. Combined with a Hi-Density Core™ and PowerCheck™, it’s a Quantum leap in battery power. Only battery with Hi-Density Core™ technology for unbeatable long lasting power. Only battery with PowerCheck™. Instantly check your power level at any time.

And, here’s how Duracell’s CopperTop is described on the website:

Get dependable, long-lasting power from CopperTop batteries. These batteries have been engineered to deliver the power you need for all your household devices.

Photo: Duracell website.

Photo: Duracell website.

Quantum brings news, and perhaps real innovative benefits, but the message seems muddled to me.  Basically, the new Quantum is “unbeatable long lasting power” versus Copper Top’s “long-lasting power.”  And some undisclosed way to check the battery power level, although the website product photo seems to reveal a built-in indicator.

Overall, it’s fair to wonder:  can’t they do better than that?  First, it’s not particularly easy to compare the two batteries.  How about lasts x% longer or some other strong yet simple benefit?  And second, why not highlight the power level checkability feature in a standout, visual way?

Still, Duracell should get credit for:

  • New product innovation and news to the battery market.
  • Technology branding with Hi-Density Core™ (even though its consumer meaning is questionable – sounds like a computer processor).
  • Visual differentiation for the new battery – red versus black.
  • In-house competition.  Duracell is competing against itself, a la Gillette (not a surprise as they are both P&G brands).
  • Continuing to feature/leverage first responders in marketing communications.

But, at a reported 20% to 30% price premium to CopperTop (Andrew Adam Newman – The New York Times), and only initially available in AA and AAA formats, is there enough reason to switch to the new battery?  Why is this new battery really better and worth the extra price?  It just feels like something is missing.

Photo: Newspaper coupon insert 7/28/2013.

Photo: Newspaper coupon insert 7/28/2013.

And, guess what?  The coupons in the Sunday news insert announcing the Quantum launch are not valid toward purchase of the new battery.  So much for making trial easier.

Here’s the new commercial.  Same message:  It’s just better – take our word for it.

Headline

Duracell wants to pump up the battery market with the launch of Quantum, its self-proclaimed longest lasting battery.  Is there a meaningful difference versus its flagship CopperTop?  Are there enough benefits for consumers to pay more?

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success. Contact him at hchimoff at gmail dot com.

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10 responses to “P&G Battery Marketing. Does Duracell’s Quantum Have the Juice to Overtake CopperTop?

  1. The price at Costco is 30% higher for the Quantum over the copper top. According to Consumer’s Report the “Hi-density Core” Quantum is 12% more longevity over the Copper Top. P & G has done it again with their strong brand positioning platform. Does this price increase justify the results?

  2. Christina Davidson

    Hi these batteries look great. do you think i can still get some for our small fire hall in rural alberta. Who would I contact.

  3. Some interesting updates from a recent news report:
    1. Sales and market share are up for Duracell, aided in part by price promotions, new distribution at Sams Club and the Quantum launch;.
    2. According to the Marketing Director, “Duracell has shied from performance comparisons, because consumers are tired of the “longevity arms race” in ads over the prior three decades.”
    ** Read the article: http://adage.com/article/news/duracell-energizer-charges-sputters/245108/

  4. I found the batteries to be far weaker than their earlier models. I tested them out and actually wrote a review about it which you can check at my blog at http://blog.vimware.com/2013/10/duracell-quantum-batteries-unnecessary.html

    • Thanks for your comment Vim.

      You make an astute consumer observation, which underlies a weakness in P&G’s marketing: “I just want to know which battery is going to power one of my son’s toy trains for as long as possible without needing a replacement.”

  5. Package doesn’t state a milliamp rating. Neither does the battery. Makes the whole deal look bogus.

    • I emailed Duracell requesting these numbers for their AA and AAA Quantum cells, and they stated they will not publish them as mAH is not an accurate comparison. That is bull. I’m now more skeptical than ever about their advantages.

      • Thats because a battery is measured by capacity ask how many micro farads it has.

      • I stll believe mAH is an accurate comparison, and one which other battery types and manufacturers use. Farads or mAH, Duracell does not want to disclose information that enables objective comparisons of their products, and expects people to buy strictly on marketing presentation.

        From an article on farads:

        To get some perspective on how big a farad is, think about this:
        – A standard alkaline AA battery holds about 2.8 amp-hours.
        – That means that a AA battery can produce 2.8 amps for an hour at 1.5 volts (about 4.2 watt-hours — a AA battery can light a 4-watt bulb for a little more than an hour).
        Let’s call it 1 volt to make the math easier. To store one AA battery’s energy in a capacitor, you would need 3,600 * 2.8 = 10,080 farads to hold it, because an amp-hour is 3,600 amp-seconds.

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