No doubt, very few brands will ever be able to match the popularity of WD-40 in the US. However WD-40 in Germany was initially in a different position. Caramba marketed since 1874 was in 2002 still the dominant market leader with a market share of nearly 50 percent. At that time WD-40 had less than 20%.
German professional and DIY target groups reacted somewhat sceptically to a product which used the well proven US-claim “more than 2000 uses”. This sounded too much like a fairy tale promise for a brand with limited awareness at that time.
Qualitative research insights lead to a re-positioning as “five products in one” capitalising on the core five functions of WD-40:
Stops Squeaks: WD-40's lubricating ingredients are easily dispersed and hold firmly to all moving parts
Loosens Rusted Parts and Frees Sticky Mechanisms: WD-40 loosens rust-to-metal bonds and frees stuck and jammed metal parts
Drives Out Moisture: Because WD-40 displaces moisture, it quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate moisture-induced short circuits.
Cleans and Protects: WD-40 gets under dirt, marks and grease making it easy to wipe away. It also loosens many adhesives, allowing easy removal of labels, tape, and stickers. WD-40 protects metal surfaces with corrosion inhabitant ingredients to shield against moisture and other corrosive elements
The re-positioning was successful: WD-40 market share increased from less than 20% in 2002 to 59% in 2008 in Germany. WD-40 sales volume increased by 500% during that time. This outstanding success was relatively accurately predicted by a sequential significance test (so called “significance trouser”). This method was originally a top US military secret. It is still nowadays used by a very limited number of experts. The successful WD-40 positioning “five products in one” was transferred to other countries.
The Coca Cola Zero and Heinz Green Tomato Ketchup case studies show other validations of the “significance trouser” in combination with our brand choice criterion.
Methods used: Explorations and “significance trouser”, advertising effect pre-test.
Paul Gill (WD-40), Dr. Ralf Mayer de Groot: WD-40: Mit kleinem Budget zum Marktführer (How WD-40 gained market leadership in Germany with a small budget), absatzwirtschaft 9/2008, S. 44 ff.; www.wikipedia.de: Stichwort „Signifikanzhose“(“Significance trouser”)