Toothpaste, deodarants, body sprays and other products are not that different from each other.
As such, it is up to marketing to create the differentiation in target consumers’ minds so that products can gain marketshare (which may also then increase the “B” in their minds so that the seller has more pricing power).
In fact, in categories like “body sprays”, where the total number of people using body sprays may not grow by a lot (true?), most gains in marketshare must come at the expense of other entrenched players in the market. There, product positioning and promotion become enormously important.
So with great interest, I read an article (on FastCompany.com) that talks about Axe’s impressive gains,
The Unilever product came to dominate the now $5 billion U.S. men’s body-spray market in 2007, only five years after entering it. It currently owns a 72% share of the body-spray category, 58 points higher than its nearest competitor, Old Spice. Procter & Gamble tried to keep up but couldn’t; one copycat, Tag, folded in 2010.
and details how these gains primarily stem from positioning (based on segmentation)
The Axe guy will spend about five years with the brand–Rubin says the core is from age 20 to 25, though high-school gym teachers would dispute that–and Axe’s success rests on studying that ever-changing group, rather than chase guys as they age.
and promotion (ads).
Its noteworthy that the positioning (which then influences the ads) is not static but is always considered a “work in progress” so that positioning is in sync with trends and influences.
But If positioning is more of a back-end activity, then promotion is a 100% front-end activity. And this is where Axe leveraged media very well – to the point that there are probably few people that haven’t seen (or can’t recall) at least one Axe ad.
As anyone with access to YouTube can attest to, most Axe ads are risqué + cheeky + creative, but don’t quite cross into offensive territory (depending on your sensibilities of course). As the article says:
It became (wink, wink) a magic potion that (nudge, nudge) totally transforms the moment. And that laid the groundwork for today’s metamorphosis, with ads so cartoonish that guys and girls are expected to enjoy them together. “Axe is deliberately not telling the truth, so they’re being truthful about being untruthful. And there’s an honesty there that this generation really relates to,” says psychologist Kit Yarrow, who studied teen purchases for her book Gen Buy.
If Axe ever decides to get into toothpaste, I wonder what those ads are going to look like…but I digress.
CPG marketing students: the full, long article is worth a read.