Air-Freshener Wars

Anti-biscuit dunking is a crusade against any type of bad selling.  This pre-dominantly means lazy, arrogant or downright stupid tactics.  Here, unusually, is one example I came across today that, although I knew was wrong (and most definitely not to be recommended) I thought was well-worth mentioning so others avoid succombing in similar fashion.

In 70s Britain, cut-throat competition in the air-freshener aerosol can market saw two main players battle it out.  Cadbury-Schweppes in one corner, Reckitt & Colman in the other.  A salesrep, brand new to selling, was encouraged by his old-stager sales manager to adopt two tactics, which combined allowed the new rep to win a prestigious portable telly at the next sales conference, for raising his patch’s performance from the 64% when he joined, to 170% and finish top of the logs.

Faulty Stands

When delivered to the warehouses of supermarkets and chemist chains, the rep would ensure his items were always high up on pallets, where no-one could easily reach them.  He’d then find his opposition’s, and when no-one was looking, kick their products, so the display stands, invariably at ground level on the pallet, would be damaged.  They would be discovered at the store, and sent back, meaning lost competitor sales.

Faulty Cans

When walking round the warehouse, he’d also find his opponent’s pallets, and sneak in through the top.  Lifting the plastic cup-lid up, he’d then squeeze off the small round nozzle that you’d press down to release the spray.  He’d then replace the cap.  When they arrived in-store, it would be a while before customers noticed and when they did he’d gain more shelf-space.


Amazingly, after a few months, the competition rep realised, and returned the favour with the nozzles.  To counter the impact, the first rep went round the warehouse where the problem was identified, and used the nozzles he’d taken off his competitor’s cans, and put them into his.

Incredible.  The lesson is quite clear.  If something feels like Enemy Action, then it probably is.

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