Knowing where to advertise will only get a company so far. The real innovation though is marketing a product that will stand out from other similar alternatives. There are a variety of techniques and methods to engage and entice the consumer. Major brands used to be reliant on simple marketing strategies such as producing clever/funny/thought-provoking adverts or endorsing high profile celebrities to promote their products. In recent decades, a more complex global market has subsequently been mirrored by a more complex advertising industry. Multinational corporations now have many more avenues to go down in exploiting domestic and international markets and this has led to a variety of different strategies being born.
Inventive advertising has been a key ingredient to many companies breaking into competitive industries or further increasing their current market share. Axe Body Spray is currently one of the leading male grooming brands in Japan after its successful launch in 2007. However, after initial success, market research showed that many Axe buyers would only make ‘occasional’ purchases. Therefore Axe focussed on increasing habitual usage through an engaging advertising campaign embodying the ‘help me or entertain me’ marketing mantra.
After further research, Axe realised they needed to understand the male morning routine better where male grooming products were most frequently used. 70% of Japanese consumers used their mobile phones as alarm clocks and therefore Axe launched the ‘Axe Wake-Up Service’: an automated wake-up service where, after registering your mobile phone number, you would be called in the morning to wake you up. The campaign further increased the company’s success because not only did numerous consumers visit the Axe website to register their number and the time they wanted to be woken-up but also the automated phone calls in the morning informed them of the Axe product and reminded them about their daily grooming routine. As a result, sales increased by 300% and the repeat purchase rate increased by over 65%. This example showed the success of thorough market research and the benefits of instilling energy and fun into advertising campaigns.
Customer involvement is another powerful marketing technique. The opinions of ‘real’ people and ‘satisfied’ customers can be really effective advertising tool if used to the right effect. Gillette has shown the success of such a strategy. 2010 saw the ‘Curse of the Gillette Three’ where both Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry (brand ambassadors along with Roger Federer) became embroiled in controversy. This misfortune led a reduction in consumer sales and a change of marketing tactics.
Gillette customers had become increasing sceptical about new products such as the firm’s tendency to add new blades (which became a target for parody in some areas of popular media). Therefore, Gillette reversed its advertising policy and began to embrace social media and blogging sites with its latest shaver: ProGlide. Videos and interactive features on Facebook were labelled a success and by sending products to well-known bloggers, complimentary reviews were read by millions of users following these blogs. The tagline was ‘Turning Shaving Into Gliding and Skeptics Into Believers’ and used interviews which regular customers to portray the success of ProGlide. Other features were added such as thinner blades, an ‘enhanced lubrastrip’ and an ‘improved blade suspension system’. The razor also became Gillette’s most expensive so far, signifying their confidence that consumers were willing to pay more for an improved product. Their self-assurance paid off with sales rising by 43% in Q3 of 2010. Gillette’s overall share price was also boosted by 3.4 points to 67.7. Therefore Gillette showed that consumers will often engaged more with people of the same rank/status rather than ‘untouchable’ celebrities. In fact studies show that 60% of US consumers deem endorsements with celebs unimportant in their personal hygiene choices.
However, some companies will not only attempt to change their marketing strategies but also the product itself. KFC’s recent repositioning of their well-known ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ led to a fall in sales. With consumers continually becoming more health conscious, KFC felt the need to follow their rivals’ examples and introduce healthier options. However, they compromised on the brand’s authenticity and heritage which had successfully drawn in customers for decades. A backlash from franchisees saw a further division between them and the KFC management team. Kentucky Grilled Chicken was promoted as a healthier product compared to its fried counterpart. It was a risky strategy that failed to pay off and the attempted brand realignment ultimately ended in a disastrous trend clash. This example shows how insufficient market research and compromising on important brand values can often back-fire if not executed in the right manner.
Domino’s Pizza had a similar problem: customer dissatisfaction with the taste of the product. Domino’s had been ranked highly for convenience and price but consumers preferred the taste of competitor offerings, meaning Domino’s lost out on potential customers who were willing to pay more for a higher quality product. However, Domino’s successfully rebranded itself, drawing attention to its past failings and reformulating its flagship offering. This transparency was seen to be greatly appreciated by consumers and helped them connect with the Domino’s Brand.
A survey during 2009 saw Domino’s ranked joint-last for taste out of the US’s major pizza chains but best for price. A new recipe (which reportedly took 2 years to perfect) was unveiled at the end of 2009 and a new survey saw the ‘New and Inspired’ pizza rated higher than those of its rivals. The new pizza was associated with the tagline: ‘Did we actually face our critics and reinvent our pizza from the crust up? Oh yes we did’. Therefore this honest, self-depreciating tone was used to successfully communicate the new improvements and benefits. This was also conveyed by a 14.5% increase in revenue and a 14.3% increase in sales later that year.
Therefore, through market research and improved marketing strategies, advertising can play a pivotal role in the success of major brands. By placing a product into the forefront of a consumers’ mind, companies can successfully exploit different demographics of today’s society. The internet is increasingly becoming the battleground for competing firms, tussling for a more dominant position in their respective markets. The amount of money being injected into the advertising industry shows how companies are becoming more aware of how influential the successful marketing of a product can be and this growing trend gives an insight into how the world’s leading firms will modify their attitudes in years to come.